Focus Verse: 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 great anger is against all who forsake him.” (22)
God’s gracious hand is for all those who acknowledge Him in all their ways. It is against those who refuse to look to Him. Because Ezra and those who were with him trusted in God for protection, they did not ask for the king’s soldiers. God honored their faith by hearing their prayer and by protecting them from enemies and bandits on their journey.
Focus Verse: Lord, the God of Israel, you are righteous! We are left this day as a remnant. Here we are before you in our guilt, though because of it not one of us can stand in your presence.” (15)
When we do wrong, our guilt often pins us to the ground and desires to keep us there. It is only by God’s grace that we can stand in His righteous presence.
Focus Verse: Then Ezra withdrew from before the house of God and went to the room of Jehohanan son of Eliashib. While he was there, he ate no food and drank no water, because he continued to mourn over the unfaithfulness of the exiles. (6)
The times when I screw up (and they are many and close between), I can’t say that I go to such great lengths as Ezra did to show how sorry I am for my sins. Ezra prayed and confessed. He wept and threw himself down before God. He did not eat any food or drink any water. He mourned (not for his unfaithfulness), but for the unfaithfulness of his people. We should not be comfortable with sin. It should distress us. Our outward act of repentance may not be so dramatic as Ezra’s, but our hearts’ inward act should certainly be so.
Focus Verse: And I heard the altar respond: “Yes, Lord God Almighty, true and just are your judgments.” (7)
These seven judgments of God are severe, but they are just. We may not like what God’s wrath has wrought or will wreak in our lives or in the lives of others, but we should have the attitude that the altar and the angel had. God is just in His judgments, true and just are they. It will be easier to have this attitude when we realize that God’s wrath is not directed toward us, but toward our sin. God wants the best for all of us and He showed that by sending His Son.