Reading Through the Bible, Friday, May 6. Ezra 7-9.

    Over eighty years after the first wave of returning refugees to Judah, Ezra led another return from Babylon.

    Ezra was a direct descendant of Aaron, the first High Priest of Israel.  He was a good man, “well versed in the law of Moses.”  He was such a spiritual man that he caught the attention of the King of Persia who called him a “teacher of the Law of the God of heaven.”

    Ezra had so exalted the God of Israel to the king that when he led the return, he writes that he “was ashamed to ask the king for soldiers and horsemen to protect us from enemies on the road, because we had told the king, “The gracious hand of our God is on everyone who looks to him, but his great anger is against all who forsake him.” But their journey went without incident.

    The immediately impressive thing about Ezra’s return was how immediately, almost overnight, Israel’s situation was changed.  She went from being oppressed to being the ruling people of Canaan (called the “trans-Euphrates” people).  In fact, though they had been opponents of Judah for eight decades, Artaxerxes not only squelched the opposition, but required the Trans-Euphrates people to be obedient and supportive (financially) of the Jewish people.

    God is always present, but when He acts in a decisive way, it becomes obvious who His people really are.