The Gracious Hand Of God
07 October 2016
Reading: Ezra 7-8; Luke 20
27 Praise the Lord, the God of our ancestors…28…for demonstrating such unfailing love to me by honoring me before the king, his council, and all his mighty princes! I felt encouraged because the gracious hand of the Lord my God was on me... (Ezra 7:27-28 NLT)
If this story wasn’t in the Bible, it would be a “Once upon a time…” fairytale! A pagan emperor invested the equivalent of several millions of dollars in sending a Jewish priest to a city 600 miles away to rebuild a temple to a God the emperor didn’t even worship! How unlikely is that? The king was superstitious and thought, “..why should we risk bringing God’s anger against the realm of the king and his sons?”
God used the king’s superstitious desire to “cover all the bases,” as motivation for him to send Ezra, and hundreds of other volunteers from among God’s people in exile, back to Jerusalem with incredible wealth and an assignment to rebuild the Temple of God. Ezra may have been the master of understatement when he said, “I felt encouraged because the gracious hand of the Lord my God was on me!”
Jesus reminded the Sadducees in Luke 20 that “God is the God of the living…” I’m writing this, so I’m living. You’re reading it, so you’re living. We’re living, so that means God is our God, just as he is Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob’s God, and just as he is Ezra’s God. And why shouldn’t the “gracious hand of the Lord our God” be on you and me as well?
Our lives are his, not ours. The purpose for which we live is his, not ours. The grace of life is his, not ours. So why not expect and receive the gracious hand of the Lord our God upon us and the work we do for him?
Father, Thanks for this encouraging reminder that the hand you place upon me and my friends is a gracious hand. Lord our God, let your gracious hand be on us as we carry out the purpose and fulfill the mission you have given us. You are the God of the living, our God, just as you are Ezra’s God. Let your grace be poured out upon us just as the favor of a king was poured out on Ezra. Commission us with purpose, stir us with passion, and send us out into our world with the “gracious hand of the Lord our God” upon us for good. Amen!