A non-believer going the extra mile
Week 20: 11/05/2023. Thu
Reflecting on pagan behaviours frequently have much self-evaluation value. The Persian king Artaxerxes not only allowed the Jews to return to rebuild the temple and worship the LORD, he offered to help with words and actions.
Indeed, king Artaxerxes was serious about the Jews' learning of the "Law of Moses" (7:6)–the king sent a scribe (Ezra) "skilled in the Law of Moses" from Babylonia to Jerusalem to make sure that they lived "according to the Law of your God, which is in your hand" (7:14).
Artaxerxes was creative and diligent. He sent a letter of authority, held in the hands of Ezra, to pre-empt opposition and to show support in words and deeds. He was generous with his own resources, royal resources which he was NOT obliged to part with to help Ezra and his people. We see here the LORD arranging for pagans to help out.
Ezra, on the other hand, lived by example. "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" (7:10). Best to have a swimming coach who knows how to swim. We see here the LORD arranging for people whom He has ordained in His divine will to help out.
Not only was Ezra a descendant of Aaron, their first high priest (7:2–5), he now teaches the LORD's laws to Israel, just like Moses did. In this sense, Ezra embodies both Aaron and Moses to this new community being recreated. We see God's grace and providence to assist this community to start anew. Would you join them afresh, coming out of the pandemic?