Scripture: Ezra 7-8, Luke 20
Ezra 8:21-23 There 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. I 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. So we fasted and prayed for God to protect us, and he answered our prayers.
Ezra had boasted to the king that God “blesses everyone who trusts Him.” Then he found himself in an interesting position. He was leading a large group of exiles back to Jerusalem from Babylon, and they were carrying a fortune to be used in the construction of the temple and worship there. How much of a fortune? Over 25 tons of silver and almost 4 tons of gold! I calculated the value based on today’s prices for gold and silver.
- $13.5 million in silver at $16.81 per ounce.
- $153.6 million in gold at $1277 per ounce.
Carrying that much wealth would make you a target for every robber in the country! We’d want an armored car today with armed drivers. Or an armed police or military escort.
Ezra considered asking the king for “a troop of calvary to protect us,” but was ashamed to ask after bragging about God’s blessing and care. So instead, he asked the exiles to join him in prayer and fasting. They asked God to protect them, and “He answered our prayers.” They made it safely to Jerusalem with all that wealth intact.
Here is a tension we live with: when do we trust God and when do you take wise precautions? I don’t think this story is an argument to throw caution to the wind, or to fail to plan ahead. Instead, I think it is an argument to trust God more fully.
I think there are moments when God wants to display His power and love through us. Perhaps Ezra sensed that God wanted to show the king that He was watching over the exiles and cared about their project, so Ezra took a leap that he normally wouldn’t.
So the question for me today is: Where can I trust God more fully? Where does God want to show His strength in my behalf? Where do I need to simply pray and fast and trust Him?
Prayer: Lord, give me opportunities to trust You today, and help me to do it!