Ezra 7:6 says of Ezra the scribe, “…The king granted him all his request, according to the hand of the LORD his God upon him.” We don’t succeed by chance and certainly not by luck; when we do God’s word in faith the LORD brings us success. “For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the Law of the LORD, and to do it, and to teach statutes and ordinances in Israel” (Ezra 7:10). Notice the progression of events from verse 10… first he set his heart to seek God’s word, and to do the Word, and then teach it.
People of the Word (people of faith) think different, so they talk and act different. In Ezra 8:21-23 Ezra says “I proclaimed a fast there at the river of Ahava, that we might humble ourselves before our God, to seek from Him the right way for us and our little ones and all our possessions. For I was ashamed to request of the king an escort of soldiers and horsemen to help us against the enemy on the road, because we had spoken to the king, saying, ‘The hand of our God is upon all those for good who seek Him, but His power and His wrath are against all those who forsake Him.’ So we fasted and entreated our God for this, and He answered our prayer.” The king was willing to give Ezra whatever he wanted and needed, but because of how Ezra had already spoken about the LORD he was forced, in a sense, to look to God alone. We shouldn’t look for the easy way, but the right way; God was glorified to the king and kingdom because Ezra didn’t take any assistance from the king. There are way too many people looking to the governments of the world to help them and provide for them when they should be looking to the LORD.
I think Ezra 9:8 is such an interesting verse; Ezra says, “And now for a little while grace has been shown from the LORD our God, to leave us a remnant to escape, and to give us a peg in His holy place, that our God may enlighten our eyes and give us a measure of revival in our bondage.” They had just began to come back into the land and settle it; numbers where small in Jerusalem and Israel. Ezra recognizes that it was God’s grace that gave them a “measure of revival” while in their bondage. Still today, God gives a measure of revival to people and churches so they can recognize their bondage and have the strength to walk in new life. May the LORD pour out His “revival” into us.
Sometime’s the work of God stops when the Lord never intended for it to stop. Ezra 4:23 says the Jews were made by “force of arms” to stop building the temple. The LORD expected them to press through the opposition and not give in to circumstances. How often do people stop, slow down or change directions in life due to opposition, discouragement or just a because of a desire for something “better?”
After at least a year (probably much more), the prophet Haggai boldly confronts their lack of motivation. He says in Haggai 1:2-5:
"Thus speaks the LORD of hosts, saying: 'This people says, "The time has not come, the time that the LORD's house should be built.” Is it time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, and this temple to lie in ruins? Now therefore, thus says the LORD of hosts: "Consider your ways!”
The people who were at one time stirred and moved to do the work of God (see Ezra 1:5) had given up. As Haggai and Zechariah began to prophecy they refocused them on the truth of what God had said and “… the LORD stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and the spirit of Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and the spirit of all the remnant of the people; and they came and worked on the house of the LORD of hosts, their God” (Haggai 1:14).
I love what Ezra 1:1 says: “Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, so that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and also put it in writing, saying…” The LORD knows how to fulfill His Word regardless of any circumstance. If it wasn’t possible to fulfill, He could have never made the promise in the first place. He inhabits eternity (Is 57:15) and, He is the Alpha and Omega; He always will be faithful to accomplish the work He begins.
In chapter 3, verse 12 some shouted for joy while others wept; who was right? I don’t think one group was right and the other wrong; they were responding to what they saw based on their perspective. The older group had seen the glory of the first Temple and mourned that the new one paled in comparison in their eyes. The new generation just rejoiced in the progress they were making. It is good to get the perspective of different people in things, but most importantly, we must get God’s perspective. The LORD would soon speak through the prophet Haggai that the rebuilding of the temple did look “as nothing” (Hag. 2:3) to the former generation, but He promised in Haggai 2:9, “The glory of this latter temple shall be greater than the former.”
Read through the Bible with us in 2012! The reading plan can be downloaded below; we are reading in chronological order. Check back often to read the blog posts on the Bible readings and discuss things in the "comments" section.
2012 Bible Plan