The Hand of the Lord his God

I mentioned yesterday that I was going to study Ezra. I did. But I didn’t do it last night when I said I would. I got tired of Google Chrome not working properly and decided to give the Opera browser a try. So I spent my time setting that up. Very poor priorities indeed! I did, however, read some history about the book of Ezra. One interesting fact that I learned last night is that in the ancient Hebrew texts, Ezra and Nehemiah are one book. I’m not sure why they eventually were separated, but I assume it is because one often quotes the priest Ezra and the other quotes Nehemiah. (We don’t know who the author is.)

So I did finally read a bit of Ezra this morning. I begged God to teach me despite my poor ordering of priorities. He is so faithful and has shown me much! I wish that I could sit with it all day and learn more and more, but the daily duties of life (specifically my dirty house) are calling. What amazing thing did I learn?

The hand of the Lord was on Ezra. And there seems to be no special reason! Ezra was a descendant of Aaron. The Bible says that he was a “scribe skilled in the law of Moses” (Ezra 7:6). But it doesn’t say much else. We learn later, as God continues to use Ezra and reveal Truth to Ezra that he was a man of good character, but the emphasis in the book is that God had granted him great favor.

this Ezra went up from Babylonia. He was a scribe skilled in the Law of Moses that the LORD, the God of Israel, had given, and the king granted him all that he asked, for the hand of the LORD his God was on him.

Ezra 7:6

For on the first day of the first month he began to go up from Babylonia, and on the first day of the fifth month he came to Jerusalem, for the good hand of his God was on him.

Ezra 7:9

and who extended to me his steadfast love before the king and his counselors, and before all the king’s mighty officers. I took courage, for the hand of the LORD my God was on me, and I gathered leading men from Israel to go up with me.

Ezra 7:28

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, 18;

Ezra 8:18 (Emphasis added to all above verses)

Throughout Ezra’s ministry, he always reminds himself and those around him that the hand of the Lord was upon him. And I love that he sometimes says the “good hand.” He recognized that there was nothing in himself that made him worthy of God’s use, but that God had chosen to grant him favor. Favor to complete God’s purposes for Israel. It was great favor for the nation because in the end it drew them back to worshiping Him. The book ends with great repentance of all of the tribes of Benjamin and Judah. It’s pretty amazing.

I don’t know about you, but often when I look at the lives of the “giants of the faith” I think that I see reasons why God should have used them. And I don’t see myself as one that would be used in such a way. Elizabeth Elliot is one I find myself thinking about this way. She has been used in amazing ways. And she has lived an amazing life. A hard life, but she has been faithful through it. I don’t see myself that way. My life has been fairly easy and I don’t think that I’ve been very faithful in it. Yet, like Ezra, God chooses who He wants to use, not based on any merit that he/she may have. We have no merit in His sight! We only have an ever-growing pile of demerits before Him. And it is only because of Christ’s righteousness that any of us can stand before Him! He simply chooses.

And that is humbling. That He would choose to use me for anything is incredible. Yet, He allows me to teach Sunday school. He allows me to work with the children’s choirs. He allows me to be a mother. What greater use could there be than to raise up two boys to know and follow the Lord? It is a job that I am not worthy of. It’s a job that I cannot do on my own. It is a job that only He can accomplish. And I am honored that He is choosing to do it through me. Wow. With that in mind, I feel driven to fall on my face before Him. To worship the King of kings!

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