Cooperate fast I Ezra 7-8

Ezra, the Priest who used prayer to overcome difficulties and bring good things to pass, had received permission from the King to lead a group of exiles back to Jerusalem. Ezra and the people of God would soon begin a long journey; travel was dangerous, and the roads were frequented by thieves. Even messengers traveled by caravan to ensure their safety. They were to face many dangers without military protection during their nine-hundred-mile journey.

The possessions which were being returned to Jerusalem were significant; these were items that were consecrated to the temple worship. Silver and gold, temple vessels, and other items issued by the King, so it is no wonder that Ezra was concerned.

He did not want to confuse the King regarding their trust in Gods protection. Ezra Had spoken of His God many times and had said that “The hand of our God is upon all those for good who seek Him,” and He was ashamed to require of the king a band of soldiers and horsemen to help against the enemy in the way. So Ezra proclaimed a fast in order for the people to seek the Lord earnestly for safe passage.

It was a joyous time, the people of God were returning to their homeland. Ezra knew the dangers of the undertaking. He had made plans and now he is preparing for the trip of a life time; everything in order? Check, check, check,

“Now I gathered them by the river that flows to Ahava, and we camped there three days. And I looked among the people and the priests and found none of the sons of Levites there.” (Ezra 8:15)

As Ezra checked the various classes of people in the group ready to depart he discovered there were no Levites. The temple worship in Jerusalem needed Levites. Where were the ones that were to preserve the law of Jehovah, to see that the requirements were complied with, who would assist in the service of the Lord. Where was the Royal guard? Who would guard the sanctuary, open and close it, assist the priest? This was the responsibility of the Levites. Where were the temple servants?

Immediately he summoned men of understanding, those he could count on. There were a large number of Levites and temple servants there but none had volunteered to go and restore worship in Jerusalem.

Ezra 8:21

Then I proclaimed a fast there, at the river of Ahava, that we might humble ourselves before our God, to seek from him the right way for us, and our little ones, and for all our possessions.

“So we fasted and petitioned our God about this, and he answered our prayer.” Ezra 8:23

Ezra was very specific in his prayer 1. He requested a return of the exiles. 2. A successful journey. 3 The authority to return, to study and to observe and teach the law of the Lord. 4 The heads of households to accompany him 5. The Levites needed to work at the temple in Jerusalem. 6 Significant donations for the temple 7. The authority to appoint leaders. 8. Exemption of taxes for the temple workers 9. The return of some of the articles and silver and gold that had been taken from the temple, along with material and flocks needed for the sacrifice at the temple when they returned.

This may have seemed like a lot to ask for but God was faithful, Ezra says that “He answered our prayer”.

As we prepare to embark on our journey of fasting and praying, I pray that God would speak to you as you pray and consecrate yourself to the Lord.

Remember it is not all about you but it is about the worship due to God alone, about the exiles (The lost) the house of the Lord being built up and having sufficiency to do the work.

As we join together in prayer, where might you find yourself, in Ezra’s line of requests to God?

Let’s begin by worshipping our God who is faithful to answer prayer.  Then pray for a return of exiles and for Levites and temple assistants, the ministers of the Lord, workers who will set themselves apart for service of the Lord.


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