“Lord, in all that I do today let it be in harmony with Your Will. Lay you gracious hand upon me so that I will have the courage and strength to accomplish what you would have me do. I seek Your way God, help me not to stumble or become distracted during my search for You.”
Key Verses: Ezra 7:6;9-10 NIV
- this Ezra came up from Babylon. He was a teacher well versed in the Law of Moses, which the LORD, the God of Israel, had given. The king had granted him everything he asked, for the hand of the LORD his God was on him.
He had begun his journey from Babylon on the first day of the first month, and he arrived in Jerusalem on the first day of the fifth month, for the gracious hand of his God was on him. For Ezra had devoted himself to the study and observance of the Law of the LORD, and to teaching its decrees and laws in Israel.
Eighty years before the arrival of Ezra, in approximately 538 BC, Cyrus the Persian had issued the proclamation that Jews may return to Jerusalem. Two years later, in 536 BC, seventy years after the first deportation of Jews to Babylon had taken place, nearly 50,000 Jews returned to the Promised Land under the leadership of Zerubbabel and the prophetic ministry of Zechariah and Haggai.
To rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem.
It is interesting, and revealing I believe, that God did not immediately send a high priest at the completion of the Temple. The temple, completed after some stops and starts in 515 BC, awaited the arrival of its chief minister from the ordained priestly lineage of Aaron, Ezra, until 458 BC…57 years. Talk about “waiting on the Lord”! Can you imagine how the builders must have felt shortly after the completion of the Temple, after the joy of completing the very place of God that they had been denied during 70 years of captivity and the 23 years of rebuilding, to wait on the Lord for Ezra?
But God had a purpose even in what must have been a very painful wait for the first group of returning Jews, He was preparing hearts through the ministry of Zechariah and Haggai, and preparing Ezra so that, in His time, the High Priest could return to the reconstructed Temple with the blessing and grace of the Lord’s hand upon him.
And Ezra’s mission?
To minister to the prepared and longing hearts of God’s chosen people.
How often does the Lord minister to our hearts in the same way, through cultivating a longing and desire which long surpasses our perceived immediate needs? We come before Him in prayer about things which we desire in the moment…and His wisdom and compassion prevails, but in His time rather than our time. He is glorified by His provision for us when our longing and desire for His intervention surpasses anything that we could accomplish through a few hurried prayer requests. Have you ever received provision in your life which could have been perceived as based on the strength of your faith or the power of your prayers? Or does God wait until there is no other explanation for His provision other than His grace, mercy and compassion alone?
I think sometimes God knows exactly how long it will take to prepare our hearts to humbly and joyfully receive His provision in our lives. He knows the exact moment in which we realize that it is not through our acts of contrition or eloquence of our prayers, but instead by the very hand of God, which, in grace and compassion, the desires of our prepared hearts are provided according to His Will…for His Glory, rather than our own.
In the case of nearly 50,000 Jews almost three millennia ago, it took 57 years to prepare their hearts to receive God’s grace for His glory. I wonder, as I pray for my needs today, how long it may take Him to prepare my heart to receive His grace and provision in my life…for His glory?