Thursday, June 11, 2009 – Ezra 8 – The Preparation and the Journey
The Book of Ezra is about restoration and rejuvenation after captivity and exile. Today we take a look at the preparations that were made before the return to Jerusalem . . . and a description of their journey home.
Today’s passage is reminiscent of the Hebrew return from enslavement in Egypt. In the Exodus story the Twelve Tribes migrated south willingly to escape famine and to reunite with their brother Joseph who had been sold into slavery. That journey and return was taken willingly, although not cheerfully! The Ezra description is a story of return from deportation, ruin and a separation from God. It is a different and more violent kind of disconnection. It is a rupture which goes deeper, perhaps lasts longer, and may have more lasting effects. But no matter the reason for going or the reason for returning, each trip is full of danger and Ezra tells us something important in verse 22: For I would have been ashamed to ask the king for troops and horsemen to protect us against enemies along the way, since we had said to the king, “The favoring hand of our God is upon all who seek him, but his mighty wrath is against all who forsake him”.
As New Testament people we understand that God’s wrath is now expressed as God’s jealous love for us, his people; yet still we can take a lesson from Ezra’s words: Do we not have the same cause to believe in God’s saving power when we set out on a journey to return to him?
We notice the attention to detail and the care with which Ezra undertakes his responsibility to shepherd these people home. He thinks ahead about provisions, transport, and contingency plans. We might do well to do the same. As followers of Christ when we think about our preparation and our journey of return to restoration we find the task quite simple: All that we need lies in one place, one person . . . Christ. This may sound too simple but it is true. As Paul tells us in his letters to the Romans and the Ephesians, as does the writer of Hebrews, Christ is our high priest, our providence, our armor. As John tells us, Christ is our sustenance; he is love. As we know from our personal archive of miracles, Christ does not abandon, Christ does not reprove; but rather, Christ abides, heals, saves and restores.
How blessed are we to be New Testament people. How blessed are we to know Christ!