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Saturday, September 17, 2016

Going Out On a Limb With God's Reputation (Ezra 8:22-23)

"I 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 anger is against all who forsake him." So we fasted and petitioned our God about this, and he answered our prayer."

Ezra went out on a limb when he "bragged on" God to a pagan king. He was unafraid to put God's reputation on the line. Ezra bases his statement on the revealed character of God. His view of God, like David's, interprets his circumstances. When David sees Goliath he can't help but brag on God, "The LORD who delivered me from the paw of the bear, He will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine." Shadrach, Meshack, and Abed-Nego also goes out on a limb when they brag on God, "our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king . . ." After going out on a limb in expressing his faith in God, Ezra fasts and prays that God will come through for him and his people. If God doesn't come through for them they are sunk! They know it and the king knows it.

God looks for those, like Ezra, who express faith in His character and promises. Nothing pleases God more than those who give Him the honor. He delights to respond by honoring them. He Himself says, "Those who honor Me, I will honor" (1 Samuel 2:30). When was the last time your bragging on God--during a difficulty or impossible situation--placed you in such difficulty that if God didn't come through for you, you were sunk?

Questions for today's Chronological Bible reading:
Ezra 8:15-10:44; 1 Chronicles 3:17-24
  • Why is Ezra concerned that there are no Levites accompanying the exiles who are returning to Jerusalem? (See also Numbers 3:5-13)
  • What does this tell you about Ezra?
  • Why had Ezra not requested military escort to Israel?
  • What is the first problem Ezra has to address after his arrival in Jerusalem?
  • What does his message tell you about his view of God?
  • Read Deuteronomy 7:1-6. Why had God commanded the people not to intermarry with those around them?
  • Describe Ezra's leadership and the people's response to his leadership.
Turning truth into prayer
Ask the Lord to expand your view of God and to help you live out of a larger view of God.