Ezra Chapter Eight

Dearest Reader,

Grab your favorite mug, your Bible, and a journal, and learn with me from Ezra the Scribe.

Before, in chapter seven we saw Ezra as a world-changer. Today, Ezra prepares for the pilgrimage back to Jerusalem. Let’s sit with Ezra a bit and learn.

I believe we can learn much from his preparations in chapter eight:

  1. In verses 8:1-14 he gathers
  2. Verses 8:15-20, Ezra looks around, realizes what he’s missing and seeks help
  3. Verses 8:21-30, Implores God through fasting and prayer
  4. 8:31-36, Makes provision for their sacrifice

Also, there’s a golden thread I want us to unravel.

Ezra seeks and relies on God.

Gathers: Ezra 8:1

These are the heads of their fathers’ houses, and this is the genealogy of those who went up with me from Babylonia, in the reign of Artaxerxes the king” 

Looks around, realizes what he’s missing and seeks help: Ezra 8:15-20

“I gathered them to the river that runs to Ahava, and there we camped three days. As I reviewed the people and the priests, I found there none of the sons of Levi.

Then I sent for Eliezer, Ariel, Shemaiah, Elnathan, Jarib, Elnathan, Nathan, Zechariah, and Meshullam, leading men, and for Joiarib and Elnathan, who were men of insight, and sent them to Iddo, the leading man at the place Casiphia, telling them what to say to Iddo and his brothers and the temple servants at the place Casiphia, namely, to send us ministers for the house of our God. 

And by the good hand of our God on us, they brought us a man of discretion, of the sons of Mahli the son of Levi, son of Israel, namely Sherebiah with his sons and kinsmen, 18; also Hashabiah, and with him Jeshaiah of the sons of Merari, with his kinsmen and their sons, 20; besides 220 of the temple servants, whom David and his officials had set apart to attend the Levites. These were all mentioned by name.” 

Implores God through fasting and prayer: Ezra 8:23

“So we fasted and implored our God for this, and he listened to our entreaty.” 

Makes provision for their sacrifice: Ezra 8:28-29

And I said to them, ‘You are holy to the Lord, and the vessels are holy, and the silver and the gold are a freewill offering to the Lord, the God of your fathers. Guard them and keep them until you weigh them before the chief priests and the Levites and the heads of fathers’ houses in Israel at Jerusalem, within the chambers of the house of the Lord’.”

Ezra seeks, relies on, and trusts God in all he does. 

Under the layers, can you find the thread to verse twenty-three and beyond? Ezra seeks, relies on, and trusts God.

When we rely on someone or something, we depend confidently on it. Trust in it.

Our young Scribe emphatically relies on his God. He trusts beyond himself in God.

Incidentally, I absolutely love how different translations word verse twenty-three:

  • ESV: “fasted and implored” 
  • NKJV: “fasted and entreated” 
  • CSB: “fasted and pleaded” 
  • NIV: “fasted and petitioned” 
  • NLT: “fasted and earnestly prayed” 

Implored, entreated, pleaded, petitioned, and earnestly prayed.

Hence, I ponder the question, “When was the last time I prayed with that kind of urgency?”  

You too?

Before we do anything we should be imploring, entreating, pleading, petitioning, and earnestly praying to our Heavenly Father. To do anything else is to rely on self-sufficiency. Self-sufficiency reeks of pride. Smells suspicious, as if to say, “I can do all things apart from God.” When we know we cannot.

Apart from God, we are nothing. Soon we find ourselves on a twisting path to self-destruction. How do I know? Experience, Dearest One. I. Have. Been. There. Been there and experienced first hand the pain and heartbreak of self-destruction.

Reflection:

I asked you earlier to grab your journal, I hope you did.

Sit a bit and ponder these questions:

  • What areas of your life do you need to seek God?
  • Where are you utterly dependent on Him?
  • Is there any area of your heart you are self-reliant in?

Lastly, reflect on this statement in verse thirty-one:

“The hand of our God was on us, and he delivered us”

  • Where do you see God in this story?
  • And, where do you see yourself?

Do you see God working? If so, can you, will you trust Him with your life?

When we unravel the thread we can pare it down to one statement:

“When we seek God, rely on and trust Him, his hand is on us”

As surely as we see God working in Ezra, He is working in our lives as well. Through Ezra, we see a God who is reachable and personal to us.

I want that God, don’t you?

Share your thoughts in the comments below or send a private email to tlmashburn@yahoo.com. I would so enjoy hearing from you.

Lastly, I am here to encourage you, equip you, and guide you as you redefine your wilderness.

Your Wilderness Guide,

 

* Catch up here.

*Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotes are in the English Standard Version from Bible.com

PS: My first book, Mornings In The Word, is available now. Order your copy today.

“There is no space to live well or love well, much less pursue the God who created us to be in fellowship with Him. We close the gap between what we need and what we want with more. Our spinning lives and broken hearts are empty while appearing full. We paste a smile on our face and tell anyone who asks we are okay while inside we are shattering a million different ways.” -Mornings In The Word