Ezra’s challenge was to lead a small group of people and priests, singers and servants, women and children, carrying a treasury of gold and silver from Babylon to the temple under construction in Jerusalem. The journey would take them across a desert wilderness ripe with bandits. An armed guard of the king of Babylon was his on request, and it would not be wrong to call upon it. Nehemiah would a few years later (Nehemiah 2:9), but Ezra had told the king, “The hand of our God is for good on all who seek him, and the power of his wrath is against all who forsake him” (Ezra 8:22). How could he make such a claim, then turn to a pagan king for protection.
Instead, Ezra prepared for battle by getting on his knees. As he set out, he first paused three days and “proclaimed a fast there, at the river Ahava, that we might humble ourselves before our God, to seek from him a safe journey for ourselves, our children, and all our goods” (Ezra 8:21). And God listened. Instead of the king’s protection, they marched under the banner of God, “and he delivered us from the hand of the enemy and from ambushes by the way” (Ezra 8:31).
Israel had known leaders large in faith and big in sin. Samson’s physical strength and moral weakness; David’s love of God and Bathsheba; and Solomon, whose godly wisdom failed to restrain his passion for the pleasures of wine, women, and wealth. It was due time for a man of faith so simple and true–he was almost wonderfully dull. Ezra comes off as a bookish scribe, “for Ezra had set his heart to study the Law of the Lord” (Ezra 7:10), but he boasted of his mighty God, then walked his talk.
Mighty God, worthy of praise, may I shout Your Name as loud as the heavens proclaim You. May I sing of Your goodness and live righteously in this land. May my life announce Your grace to a world awaiting judgment. May I display in what I do my confidence that You are God Almighty, maker of the heavens and the earth. May I get on my knees and fight for righteousness.
You are God and there is no other. I trust my life fully and solely in Your hands, and there is no better place, because You are faithful and true, the first and the last, able to keep me from falling and present me faultless before the presence of Your glory, because at the cross, You paid the price for my sin and clothed me in Your righteousness. How great is my God.