God’s Faithful Word of Prayer
Ezra 8:21-36: The book of Ezra is considered a sequel to Chronicles and describes the return of some of the Jewish exiles from Babylonia and the restoration of life and worship in Jerusalem. Ezra, an expert in the Law of God, helps the people reorganize their religious and social life in order to safeguard the spiritual heritage of Israel. Today’s reading is Ezra’s prayer in which he asks the people to fast and to pray for God’s protection as they journey back to Jerusalem.
Today's Scripture: Ezra 8:23
So we fasted and prayed for God to protect us, and he answered our prayers.
Ezra Leads the People in Fasting and Prayer
21There by the Ahava Canal I gave orders for us all to fast and humble ourselves before our God and to ask him to lead us on our journey and protect us and our children and all our possessions.22I would have been ashamed to ask the emperor for a troop of cavalry to guard us from any enemies during our journey, because I had told him that our God blesses everyone who trusts him, but that he is displeased with and punishes anyone who turns away from him.23So we fasted and prayed for God to protect us, and he answered our prayers.
The Gifts for the Temple
24From among the leading priests I chose Sherebiah, Hashabiah, and ten others.25Then I weighed out the silver, the gold, and the utensils which the emperor, his advisers and officials, and the people of Israel had given to be used in the Temple, and I gave it to the priests.26-27This is what I gave them:
silver - 25 tons
100 silver utensils - 150 pounds
gold - 7,500 pounds
20 gold bowls - 270 ounces
2 fine bronze bowls, equal in value to gold bowls
28I said to them, “You are sacred to the Lord, the God of your ancestors, and so are all the silver and gold utensils brought to him as freewill offerings.29Guard them carefully until you reach the Temple. There in the priests' rooms weigh them and turn them over to the leaders of the priests and of the Levites, and to the leaders of the people of Israel in Jerusalem.”30So the priests and the Levites took charge of the silver, the gold, and the utensils, to take them to the Temple in Jerusalem.
The Return to Jerusalem
31It was on the twelfth day of the first month that we left the Ahava Canal to go to Jerusalem. Our God was with us and protected us from enemy attacks and from ambush as we traveled.32When we reached Jerusalem, we rested three days.33Then on the fourth day we went to the Temple, weighed the silver, the gold, and the utensils, and turned them over to Meremoth the priest, son of Uriah. With him were Eleazar son of Phinehas and two Levites, Jozabad son of Jeshua and Noadiah son of Binnui.34Everything was counted and weighed, and a complete record was made at the same time.
35All those who had returned from exile then brought offerings to be burned as sacrifices to the God of Israel. They offered 12 bulls for all Israel, 96 rams, and 77 lambs; they also offered 12 goats to purify themselves from sin. All these animals were burned as sacrifices to the Lord.36They also took the document the emperor had given them and gave it to the governors and officials of West-of-Euphrates Province, who then gave their support to the people and the Temple worship.
Why did Ezra lead the people in fasting and prayer? Have you ever fasted and prayed? What spiritual disciplines do you practice?
Holy God, I trust in you. With a humble heart I praise your holy name. Thank you for your steadfast love and care. Draw me close to you and teach me your ways. Amen.
Those practicing spiritual disciplines
Nehemiah 9:1-25: The people confess their sins.