The Hand of God

August 12, 2021 — Krystal Craven
Devotional title text overlaying a silhouette of a man with a hand over his shoulder.

In Ezra 7, during the time of Artaxerxes, Ezra was a scribe among his people in Babylonia. He ended up being sent by the king to Jerusalem to the remnant who had gone and rebuilt the temple in order to teach the people the Law of the LORD, but there’s something very distinct that we see recur throughout this chapter:

“He was a scribe skilled in the Law of Moses that the LORD, the God of Israel, had given, and the king granted him all that he asked, for the hand of the LORD his God was on him.” (Ezra 7:6)

“For on the first day of the first month he began to go up from Babylonia, and on the first day of the fifth month he came to Jerusalem, for the good hand of his God was on him. For Ezra had set his heart to study the Law of the LORD, and to do it and to teach his statutes and rules in Israel.” (Ezra 7:9-10)

“Blessed be the LORD, the God of our fathers, who put such a thing as this into the heart of the king, to beautify the house of the LORD that is in Jerusalem, and who extended to me his steadfast love before the king and his counselors, and before all the king’s mighty officers. I took courage, for the hand of the LORD my God was on me, and I gathered leading men from Israel to go up with me.” (Ezra 7:27-28)

The hand of the LORD his God was on him.

Ezra found favor with the king, and in his journey, and took courage BECAUSE the hand of the LORD his God was on him.

Digging another layer down, we see Ezra’s heart was set to study, do, and teach God’s law. Now Ezra was already described as a scribe skilled in the Law of Moses, yet his heart’s desire was to continue to study and really dig into the Law of the LORD in order to do it himself and teach it. This reminds me of David’s Psalm, “Blessed is the one who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.” (Psalm 1:1-2)

Ezra’s heart was in the right place before the LORD, and the LORD gave him favor by putting His good hand on him. Just as we see in the next verse of Psalm 1, “He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.” (Psalm 1:3)

Lastly, we see that in light of this, Ezra took courage and stirred others to good works to go with him. Ezra didn’t have Jesus, the Messiah’s redemption on the cross to look back on the way we do, but he had the promise of the Messiah and the goodness and faithfulness of God to look forward to and he acted upon it, taking courage and walking in the way the LORD had paved before him recognizing God’s good hand on him.

We now, have Jesus as our High Priest and in Hebrews are told to “draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet, as is the habit of some, but encourage one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” (Hebrews 10:22-25)

My dear friend, set your heart on the things above, drawing near to God, and taking courage because His good hand on you will lead you as you walk in the path He leads as you stir one another to love and good works. Just as a dear pants for flowing streams, may your soul pant and thirst for the living God (Psalm 42:1-2) and may you take courage and encourage others all the more since we can fully see the Day drawing near.