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It only takes a few words to say a lot.
Ezra the priest, teacher of the Law of Moses, was one of the exiles serving out the Hebrew nation’s time in captivity. He has been sent back to Jerusalem with the task of rebuilding the temple. He has the imperial stamp of approval and support of the king of Persia whose favour was divinely inspired (Ezra 7:6).
But even with the support of the king and with the help of all those who journeyed with him, Ezra’s task is huge. The invasions of Israel’s enemies has left behind nothing but ruins and a hostile population of foreigners who have been been exiled to Israel to keep the weeds from overrunning the place.
Ezra, as a teacher and a priest, is likely given to quieter and more solitary pursuits. But here he is. And as he faces the challenge he senses again the presence of the Lord. He remembers how God has already moved to make all this possible. Who else could have caused a pagan king to release his prisoners, return all the precious items that had been ripped out of the temple during the destruction of Jerusalem, and financially support the rebuilding of a nation that could potentially become an enemy at a future date? And that's only the beginning of the list.
Because of this overwhelming evidence, Ezra “took courage…”
There are some things in life that aren’t worth looking back at. On the other hand, there are other things that need to be held close to our hearts and cemented in our minds. The faithfulness of God is one of those precious things that we need to always remember because those memories give us, as in Ezra's case, courage to face whatever new challenges come our way.
Hebrews 13:8 tells us that, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” What He has been to us in the past He will continue to be to us.
But there is another encouraging thought that comes with the comment about Ezra. Some people may not have a “past” with God’s faithfulness. They have yet to discover and mark the milestones in their lives that have been placed there by God to get them to this present point in their lives. They have recently come to faith and all this is new to them—this is milestone 1 in their spiritual journeys. And it is here at the first marker that these people need to know that the God whose hand has touched their lives with salvation will not abandon them tomorrow, the day after tomorrow, or any time between now and eternity. That’s where a little verse from Philippians comes in handy.
“…being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6).
God’s hand on your life and mine gives us immense reason to take courage. He will not fail.