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CHAPTER 8 (ESV)
15 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. 16 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, 17 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. 18 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, eighteen; 19 also Hashabiah, and with him Jeshaiah of the sons of Merari, with his kinsmen and their sons, twenty; 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.
21 Then I 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. 22 For I was ashamed to ask the king for a band of soldiers and horsemen to protect us against the enemy on our way, since we 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.” 23 So we fasted and implored our God for this, and he listened to our entreaty.
- Ezra’s return to Jerusalem was delayed as he waited for the response of the Levites on the call to join the returning team. God called the Levites to take on a special role, but few were willing to pay the price. Imagine if you were one of the Levites at that time. Are you willing to accept Ezra’s call to return to Jerusalem? Have you been used to the life in Babylon that you don’t feel the importance and urgency of returning and rebuilding the temple? Rebuilding the temple was a huge task that required great courage in leaving your “comfort zone”. Only if you see the vision will you have the strength to take on the challenge. This is the same for Christians to rebuild our holy life today. Are you willing to leave your comfort zone and respond to God’s calling?
- Ezra knew that God would protect His people but he did not take it for granted. He knew that prayer was the way to receive God’s blessings so he humbly fasted and prayed with the people, and God listened to their prayer. Fasting made them humble because hunger reminds people to rely on God. Fasting could also save them more time for praying and meditating. Our prayer is often superficial with too much emphasis on word decoration. Solemn prayer requires our focus and concentration. It can completely change us and help us understand God’s will. Without earnest prayer, we will treat God as a tool for digging a well when we are thirsty. Reflect if your prayer is of depth and strength or it is superficial.
Ask God to give you courage and strength so that you can leave your comfort zone and respond to God’s calling to actively face the challenges of spiritual growth. Ask the Holy Spirit to teach you and help you to pray in spirit and in truth, and to build an intimate relationship with God.
“Mighty to Save” – www.youtube.com/watch?v=sR8rlTIU8_Y