Ezra 5-7 takes place after God has given His people a second chance in Jerusalem. Many who were exiled are home from Babylon attempting to faithfully rebuild the Lord's temple, and they are facing major setbacks and opposition. We can't help but realize that God's second chances, His great projects, take an unpredictable amount of time (His time, not ours).
Even when it seems things aren't happening, God is working things out in His plan. God sends two prophets, Haggai and Zechariah, to be encouragers and keep Zerubbabel and Joshua moving forward on the rebuilding project. Before we know it, the new King Darius, is working on their side, and it's all officially in writing. The Lord's temple gets completed, and God's people celebrate in a big way!
God's timing, especially as it jumps around in the Bible, can be impossible to understand. But according to my Life Application Study Bible, 60 years passes between chapters 6 and 7 in Ezra. The first exiles have been in Jerusalem for 80 years, and Ezra wants to bring even more of God's people back from Babylon to the Promise Land. And so, Ezra makes the trip.
We finally get to know a little bit about the man behind the book we are reading. Ezra is a priest, a scribe, a scholar of God's word, and he is the credited author of several books in the Bible (1 & 2 Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, and Psalm 119). As we will see, Ezra is a great and faithful leader for God, somewhat of an "unsung" hero. There's so much we can learn from his example.
Ezra works to teach people about God and His Word for their lives. I love how Ezra is so busy devoting his life to God, he has no idea how successful he is along the way. He gives all credit and praise to God!
27 Praise be to the Lord, the God of our ancestors, who has put it into the king’s heart to bring honor to the house of the Lord in Jerusalem in this way 28 and who has extended his good favor to me before the king and his advisers and all the king’s powerful officials. Because the hand of the Lord my God was on me, I took courage and gathered leaders from Israel to go up with me.
I am reminded how possible it is for all of us to do the very same thing in our work. That is, even though we may not all be scholars of God's Word or priests, we can give God room and credit in our lives, no matter what we do for a living. And like Ezra, when we devote ourselves to God, His hand can accomplish awesome things through us.
A prayer for today-
Thank You for using faithful people like Ezra to help grow my faith.
Forgive me for all the ways I limit myself to my own abilities and forget that I can do so much more when I rely on You, Lord.
Open my heart to the ways I need to be more like Ezra.
I praise You, Lord, who has the power to transform hearts and work miracles. I am so grateful for the way Your hands are at work in my life.
[Take some time to think about and thank God for all He does for you and through you day to day.]
Every good and perfect gift is from You, Lord.
In Jesus' name I pray,
Grace and peace,