by Heike Staiger

Today we would like to have a look at Ezra to see the kind of role model he was, when it came to putting Faith into Action.

Ezra was not only a priest and skilled scribe; he was the leader of the second return of the Jews from the exile in Babylon. We see how the Lord used this man in a mighty way!

Our focus today is on Ezra 8:21-23, but before we look at this passage in more detail, let’s briefly consider the overall situation.

God’s promised miracle

The book of Ezra begins with a miracle, promised by God: the return of the Jews from the exile in Babylon1 which was led by Zerubabbel and Jeshua. We learn of the building of the altar, the resumption of the sacrificial offerings made to the Lord, and the laying of the foundation of the temple in Jerusalem. We read about the resistance in rebuilding the temple, and how prophets of God stood up and encouraged the Jews to continue this work.2 Again, resistance arose, and the matter was brought before King Darius, the king of Persia. He helps the Jews and thus the building of the temple can be completed. Now Ezra comes into the picture …

Ezra leads the people

Ezra moves to Jerusalem with a commission and royal authority from the king of Persia, Artaxerxes. The time has come! The second return of the Jews to Jerusalem begins! We read of all the heads of families returning with Ezra and how numerous the families who are represented.  But the people were not only carrying their belongings. They were also transporting unimaginable riches destined for the house of God, the temple in Jerusalem.

If we imagine this … Ezra and the people who returned set out on their journey with 24 tons of silver, 7,500 pounds of silver articles, 7,500 pounds of gold and much more.3 What a tremendous amount of riches!

We read that ambushes and enemies4 could be expected along the way, and with this vast quantity of treasures, an ambush would be more than worthwhile. The journey could be very dangerous due to carrying their possessions and the treasures for the temple of God. The trip also took four months.5 What a responsibility to bring these riches to Jerusalem!

Wouldn’t it be the most natural thing in the world to ask the king for his help? He could send soldiers to travel with them and guard and protect the caravan and the treasures – after all, Ezra went with a commission from the king.

Ezra puts his Faith into Action

But Ezra did not act according to human thinking! He put his faith into action and we can understand why he was a man whose life had a deep impact on his people.

Ezra was ashamed to ask the king for help to support them against their enemies, for he said to the king, “The hand of our God is upon all those for good who seek Him…” (Ezra 8:22b NKJV). Isn’t this a strong statement in the face of what could be very threatening and dangerous circumstances?

By his action, Ezra shows that he believes what he has said. He does not seek help from the king, but He trusts God!

As he camps by the river Ahava, with the people who return with him, Ezra requests those gathered to fast and pray to ask God’s protection for this journey.6 God is the hearer of prayer. He answers and rewards their faith! That is our God, and He will do the same today!

There were indeed enemies and attacks planned against the travellers – but the Lord protected them and they experienced His preservation. It was not by human help that they were saved, but by God’s protecting hand.

And the hand of our God was upon us, and He delivered us from the hand of the enemy and from ambush along the road.” (Ezra 8:31b NKJV).

Where do you look for help?

Perhaps we too, are facing challenges or difficult circumstances that seem unsolvable …

Where do we look for our help? In what do we put our trust? Do we look first and foremost to people for help? Do we hope for the next raise in our salary to meet financial needs? Do we trust doctors to find the best medication for a sick body? (By this I do not mean that we should not take help from people, e.g. from doctors, but there is a difference between trusting in people, and trusting in God and receiving help through people.)

In whom and what do we put our trust?

May we be like Ezra who put his Faith into Action.

He spoke of God’s protection. Then he prayed and trusted God completely that He would give that protection!

Our help comes from the Lord, to whom nothing is impossible!

1 to be found in Jeremiah 29:10

2 to be found in Ezra 5:1-2

3 to be found in Ezra 8:26-27 NLT

4 to be found in Ezra 8:22.31

5 to be found in Ezra 7:96 to be found in Ezra8:21 NLT