Talk about a Book of Scripture that’s heavily “loaded” with practical information and application … and EZRA rises to the top of the discussion!
That’s why I have called today’s Lesson “One More Episode!”
“Then I proclaimed a fast there, at the river of Ahava, that we might afflict ourselves before our God, to seek of him a right way for us, and for our little ones, and for all our substance. For I was ashamed to require of the king a band of soldiers and horsemen to help us against the enemy in the way: because we had spoken unto the king, saying, The hand of our God is upon all them for good that seek him; but his power and his wrath is against all them that forsake him. So we fasted and besought our God for this: and he was intreated of us.” Ezra 8:21-23
The noun “fast” is “tzsom” in Hebrew, “an abstaining from food.” Dethroning (“afflicting” meaning “humbling”) the flesh in order to exalt God and seek His Will, His Face … in nearly any given matter.
But if you read our Text carefully, it becomes evident that this fast is for a singular purpose, for “protection” as granted by the Hand of God! For His overshadowing Presence and Power! Safety from any enemies along the way, the proposed route back to Jerusalem.
Clearly Ezra’s actions are based on his firm conviction that … “the Hand of our God is upon all them for good that seek Him.” And fasting here is another way of “seeking” the Lord God.
Apparently … God acknowledged their fast and heard their prayers, based on Ezra’s observation, his pristine faith. “So we fasted and besought our God for this: AND HE WAS INTREATED OF US.” That is, He graciously heard us!
God has guaranteed them protection!
But WHY did Ezra want GOD to protect them?
Had not King Artaxerxes promised them (the Jews) all the help they needed? Surely, including armed guards?
Here’s why …
“For I was ASHAMED to require of the king a band of soldiers and horsemen to help us against the enemy in the way: BECAUSE we had spoken unto the king, saying, The hand of our God is upon all them for good that seek him; but his power and his wrath is against all them that forsake him.”
Ezra’s concern for the reputation of God!
Ezra’s firmly held belief that they did not need the army of an earthly King … because they had the (protecting) Hand of the Almighty God!
Once you brag on (praise, extol) God … you need to stand by your words!
Literally … “If God be for us, who can be against us?” Romans 8:31
Then too, Philippians 4:13 … “I can do ALL things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” Please notice the word I have capitalized.
Pray, fast, trust God … not leaning on any man; and see what God can do!
He, the Lord, safely conducted Ezra and his thousands to the Land of Judah!
— Dr. Mike Bagwell
It is believed that Ezra and his company would have sung the Psalms of Degrees as they marched to Zion! Including Psalm 121 which reminds us … “The LORD will not suffer thy foot to be moved: he that keepeth thee will not slumber. Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep. The LORD is thy keeper: the LORD is thy shade upon thy right hand. The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night. The LORD shall preserve thee from all evil: he shall preserve thy soul. The LORD shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore.”
Hallelujah, what protection!