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October 5, 2019

Please read today’s Scriptures and use the comment section on this page to share your insights from today’s reading. You can also just mention a verse that impacted you or post a question!

Read (and Hear) the Bible in One Year
Christian Standard Bible for 2019

Text: Matthew 9-10
Audio: Matthew 9-10

You can use the audio Bible as a guide to help “set the pace” as you read along.

Ezra 8 (ESV)

These are the heads of their fathers’ houses, and this is the genealogy of those who went up with me from Babylonia, in the reign of Artaxerxes the king: Of the sons of Phinehas, Gershom. Of the sons of Ithamar, Daniel. Of the sons of David, Hattush. Of the sons of Shecaniah, who was of the sons of Parosh, Zechariah, with whom were registered 150 men. Of the sons of Pahath-moab, Eliehoenai the son of Zerahiah, and with him 200 men. Of the sons of Zattu, Shecaniah the son of Jahaziel, and with him 300 men. Of the sons of Adin, Ebed the son of Jonathan, and with him 50 men. Of the sons of Elam, Jeshaiah the son of Athaliah, and with him 70 men. Of the sons of Shephatiah, Zebadiah the son of Michael, and with him 80 men. Of the sons of Joab, Obadiah the son of Jehiel, and with him 218 men. 10 Of the sons of Bani, Shelomith the son of Josiphiah, and with him 160 men. 11 Of the sons of Bebai, Zechariah, the son of Bebai, and with him 28 men. 12 Of the sons of Azgad, Johanan the son of Hakkatan, and with him 110 men. 13 Of the sons of Adonikam, those who came later, their names being Eliphelet, Jeuel, and Shemaiah, and with them 60 men. 14 Of the sons of Bigvai, Uthai and Zaccur, and with them 70 men.

15 I gathered them to the river that runs to Ahava, and there we camped three days. As I reviewed the people and the priests, I found there none of the sons of Levi. 16 Then I sent for Eliezer, Ariel, Shemaiah, Elnathan, Jarib, Elnathan, Nathan, Zechariah, and Meshullam, leading men, and for Joiarib and Elnathan, who were men of insight, 17 and sent them to Iddo, the leading man at the place Casiphia, telling them what to say to Iddo and his brothers and the temple servants at the place Casiphia, namely, to send us ministers for the house of our God. 18 And by the good hand of our God on us, they brought us a man of discretion, of the sons of Mahli the son of Levi, son of Israel, namely Sherebiah with his sons and kinsmen, 18; 19 also Hashabiah, and with him Jeshaiah of the sons of Merari, with his kinsmen and their sons, 20; 20 besides 220 of the temple servants, whom David and his officials had set apart to attend the Levites. These were all mentioned by name.

21 Then I proclaimed a fast there, at the river Ahava, that we might humble ourselves before our God, to seek from him a safe journey for ourselves, our children, and all our goods. 22 For I was ashamed to ask the king for a band of soldiers and horsemen to protect us against the enemy on our way, since we had told the king, “The hand of our God is for good on all who seek him, and the power of his wrath is against all who forsake him.” 23 So we fasted and implored our God for this, and he listened to our entreaty.

24 Then I set apart twelve of the leading priests: Sherebiah, Hashabiah, and ten of their kinsmen with them. 25 And I weighed out to them the silver and the gold and the vessels, the offering for the house of our God that the king and his counselors and his lords and all Israel there present had offered. 26 I weighed out into their hand 650 talents of silver, and silver vessels worth 200 talents, and 100 talents of gold, 27 20 bowls of gold worth 1,000 darics, and two vessels of fine bright bronze as precious as gold. 28 And I said to them, “You are holy to the Lord, and the vessels are holy, and the silver and the gold are a freewill offering to the Lord, the God of your fathers. 29 Guard them and keep them until you weigh them before the chief priests and the Levites and the heads of fathers’ houses in Israel at Jerusalem, within the chambers of the house of the Lord.” 30 So the priests and the Levites took over the weight of the silver and the gold and the vessels, to bring them to Jerusalem, to the house of our God.

31 Then we departed from the river Ahava on the twelfth day of the first month, to go to Jerusalem. The hand of our God was on us, and he delivered us from the hand of the enemy and from ambushes by the way. 32 We came to Jerusalem, and there we remained three days. 33 On the fourth day, within the house of our God, the silver and the gold and the vessels were weighed into the hands of Meremoth the priest, son of Uriah, and with him was Eleazar the son of Phinehas, and with them were the Levites, Jozabad the son of Jeshua and Noadiah the son of Binnui. 34 The whole was counted and weighed, and the weight of everything was recorded.

35 At that time those who had come from captivity, the returned exiles, offered burnt offerings to the God of Israel, twelve bulls for all Israel, ninety-six rams, seventy-seven lambs, and as a sin offering twelve male goats. All this was a burnt offering to the Lord. 36 They also delivered the king’s commissions to the king’s satraps and to the governors of the province Beyond the River, and they aided the people and the house of God.

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Next: Ezra 9

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This Post Has 2 Comments
  1. Ashamed to Ask?

    As I was reading today's chapter, I couldn't help but be struck by Ezra's sensitivity to what impact asking the king for protection would have not only on their testimony of the power of God but also to the character of God Himself. 

    Ezra 8:21-23 says, "Then I proclaimed a fast there, at the river Ahava, that we might humble ourselves before our God, to seek from him a safe journey for ourselves, our children, and all our goods. 22 For I was ashamed to ask the king for a band of soldiers and horsemen to protect us against the enemy on our way, since we had told the king, 'The hand of our God is for good on all who seek him, and the power of his wrath is against all who forsake him.' 23 So we fasted and implored our God for this, and he listened to our entreaty."

    If God is able to protect His people from their enemies "by the power of His wrath for all who forsake Him," why rely on the king's soldiers and horsemen for protection, right?

    While this is a principle that is true and can be trusted, that does not mean we are never to ask for help, or protection, or provision from someone in our time of need – since God helps, protects and provides through means (which includes through people). He can (and does) provide in miraculous ways but He more often provides through people. 

    We see that God did protect them in Ezra 8:31 which says, "Then we departed from the river Ahava on the twelfth day of the first month, to go to Jerusalem. The hand of our God was on us, and he delivered us from the hand of the enemy and from ambushes by the way."

    As I've mentioned in prior comments from previous chapters, there are people who trust the Lord so much they refuse medical treatment of any kind. They don't take any medication and any ailment they have is (in their minds/beliefs) from God and as such, if it's His will to heal them, He will. If not, they will suffer and even die. This led to the death of many people (including children) who have suffered from treatable illness, disease or injury.

    What does the Bible say about this? An excellent article on Got Questions deals with this in an article titled, "How should a Christian view prescription drugs?"

    https://www.gotquestions.org/Christian-prescription-drugs.html

    We should not be ashamed to ask for help – but when we do, we should realize it is ultimately God who either provides what we ask for or not. 

    With that said, it is wonderful to not ask for help but to trust God. Just because we can ask for help doesn't mean we always should. I have prayed many times in a situation and felt that I should leave it up to God and not ask anyone for help. (This was not when my doctor wanted to put me on blood pressure meds or when I had a medical emergency).

    For me, it has more often than not been a financial situation that I was praying about. I don't just wait for money to fall from the sky from the generous hand of God. I work. Michelle works. We do what we can but trust God when that’s not enough. But there are times when things come up that require prayer and waiting on God because there is literally nothing we can do. Other times I have let people know of a need and God has provided through the generosity of others. 

    As Alistair Begg often says, in Scripture, "the main things are the plain things and the plain things are the main things." We need to guard ourselves from reading a verse in the Bible and building an entire belief system on it – or assume the proper application of "truly trusting God" is that we never ask for help from anyone (including doctors). 

  2. This morning as I read all of the book of Ezra through today's reading, chapter 9, what God impressed upon me was His faithfulness. After all His people had suffered while in exile, He had been faithful to keep His promise to glorify Himself through them and to preserve them.

    We can see that now, looking back and reading the Old Testament, but if we lived in exile with Israel at that time, suffering the loss of our homes, our land, and even our lives, would we have believed God was still faithful? Or would we have lost hope? Would we have believed God had forsaken us? Or perhaps that the God of our fathers was impotent, perhaps even nonexistent? 

    Ezra's faith in God was not destroyed, and in fact was being encouraged and strengthened by what God was clearly doing in the heart of King Artaxerxes.

    So in verses 21-22, Ezra recognizes that it is his faith — as the leader of the journey to Jerusalem — that is now being tested. Knowing the journey will be fraught with danger,  he knows they will need protection. But whose protection? The protection of a pagan king? 

    What I'm walking away with from this chapter today is Ezra's response:   

    "Then I proclaimed a fast there, at the river Ahava, that we might humble ourselves before our God, to seek from him a safe journey for ourselves, our children, and all our goods. For I was ashamed to ask the king for a band of soldiers and horsemen to protect us against the enemy on our way, since we had told the king, 'The hand of our God is for good on all who seek him, and the power of his wrath is against all who forsake him.' So we fasted and implored our God for this, and he listened to our entreaty."

    Ultimately, he doesn't ask for help from the king, and instead leads the people on the journey under God's protection alone, arriving safely in Jerusalem. I imagine the people who went on the journey gave glory to God as He delivered them from their enemies all along the way!  

     

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