Read Deuteronomy 30:1-6
. What promise was given here to the Hebrew people? What must this promise, among others like it, mean to men like Ezra and Nehemiah?
Ezra and Nehemiah knew the prophecies. They knew that God was going to bring the people back from captivity. We saw in Nehemiah 9 that they understood their history and the reasons for their troubles. At the same time, too, they knew God’s graciousness and leading, despite their sins.
Thus, they trusted in the Lord, that He would make the return from captivity successful. Those promises, however, didn’t mean that they would not face many challenges along the way. In much of this quarter so far, we have looked at the trials and tribulations that they faced, even amid the promises of God.
Read Ezra 8:16-23
. What was the challenge here, and how did they respond to it?
Despite the promises, Ezra knew just how dangerous the journey was. Thus, the fasting and the humbling before God were ways of acknowledging just how dependent they were upon the Lord for their success. At this time, with so many dangers ahead of them, the idea of asking the king for help and protection had at least occurred to Ezra. But in the end, he chose not to do that, in contrast to Nehemiah (Neh. 2:9
), who did have an escort to protect him. Ezra obviously felt that if he had asked, it would have brought dishonor to the Lord, for he had already said to the king, “The hand of our God is upon all those for good who seek Him, but His power and His wrath are against all those who forsake Him”
, NKJV). In this case, it worked out well for them, for he later wrote (Ezra 8:31
) that the Lord had protected them, and they made it to their destination safely.