Ezra 8:22

“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 had been sent by King Artaxerxes to Jerusalem. At the same time, he was to take back to the temple of God everything that had been taken by Artaxerxes’ predecessors. Ezra 8:26, 27 describe the amounts of gold, silver, and copper that were being taken back: “…I (Ezra) even weighed unto their hand six hundred and fifty talents of silver, and silver vessels an hundred talents, and of gold an hundred talents; also twenty basons of gold, of a thousand drams; and two vessels of fine copper, precious as gold.” A talent was 75 pounds, as we would reckon it. So, the total weight of silver was 56,250 pounds (28 tons) and the gold came to 750 pounds. A dram was a Persian gold coin of indeterminate value, but, clearly, the value of the described basins of gold and copper was great. So, Ezra and his companions were about to take a journey from Babylon to Jerusalem, approximately 1678 miles (2700 km), carrying all of that treasure!

Since he had strong backing from King Artaxerxes, one might think that Ezra would have asked for one more favor; that the king would send along some of his army to protect them on the way. He and his companions had grown up under the oppression of the kings of the day. They were not trained in war. And, there were only about 1,700 of them. Surely, many enemies were along the way, and aware of Ezra’s journey and the great wealth that they carried.

Ezra’s thinking is seen in the verse above; he was ashamed to ask for protection. They had told Artaxerxes about the greatness of Jehovah, and that He would be their protection. Ezra was ashamed to now turn around and ask Artaxerxes for help. The time for his journey had come.

But Ezra said more to the king. Not only did he speak of God’s almighty hand for good on behalf of them that seek Him, he also told the king about judgment for them that forsook God. His power, for good to them who sought Him, would be turned against those who didn’t, and His wrath would fall upon them. One might say that Ezra had painted himself into a corner. At this juncture, he must either follow and trust God, or he would be guilty of forsaking God, and find himself under God’s wrath. In the verses around this one, Ezra and his companions fasted, and appealed to God for His hand of protection, and for His guidance in the way. They trusted God and sought Him.

Forsaking God requires knowledge of Him and His ways in the first place. Forsaking is not done in ignorance. It is an act of the will with knowledge of the Person being forsaken. Ezra really wasn’t facing a decision. He already knew what he was going to do, and that was to trust God. He didn’t ask for the king’s assistance for the trip to Jerusalem. He was ashamed to do so. He was going to trust God.

What a challenge Ezra’s declaration puts before us. Have we ever boldly declared our trust in God and His abilities in the comfort of our home, only to balk under different circumstances? Does our trust in God pale when our comforts melt away, or the face of the crowd is scowling? Ezra was in the position to show where he stood, and stand he did. Perhaps nobody would blame him if he allowed the fears of the trip overtake him, and he requested the king’s help. But, like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, he put his trust in his God, daring to stand with Him no matter the consequences.

Exodus 3:11, 12 records the conversation between Moses and God when Moses was sent by God to Egypt to lead out the Israelites. “And Moses said unto God, Who am I, that I should go unto Pharaoh, and that I should bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt? And he said, Certainly I will be with thee; and this shall be a token unto thee, that I have sent thee: When thou hast brought forth the people out of Egypt, ye shall serve God upon this mountain.” The evidence that Moses was wise in trusting the LORD would come when he came back, after the Israelites had left Egypt. Ezra was similarly rewarded upon the completion of his trip to Jerusalem. As recorded in Ezra 8:31, “Then we departed from the river of Ahava on the twelfth day of the first month, to go unto Jerusalem: and the hand of our God was upon us, and he delivered us from the hand of the enemy, and of such as lay in wait by the way.” Our reward for trusting may come after the fact, but it shall surely come. To trust Him more!

Simply trusting every day,
Trusting through a stormy way;
Even when my faith is small,
Trusting Jesus, that is all.

Refrain

Trusting as the moments fly,
Trusting as the days go by;
Trusting Him whate’er befall,
Trusting Jesus, that is all.

Brightly does His Spirit shine
Into this poor heart of mine;
While He leads I cannot fall;
Trusting Jesus, that is all.

Refrain

Singing if my way is clear,
Praying if the path be drear;
If in danger for Him call;
Trusting Jesus, that is all.

Refrain

Trusting Him while life shall last,
Trusting Him till earth be past;
Till within the jasper wall,
Trusting Jesus, that is all.

Refrain (Edgar P. Stites)

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