This is amazing! Artaxerxes was the most powerful ruler in the world. Ezra was a scribe, learned in the Torah and a direct descendant of Aaron. That might have given him status among the Jews; but what was that to Artaxerxes? And what he gave Ezra is mind-blowing: over three tons of silver, wheat, wine and unlimited supplies of olive oil plus ‘whatever else may be needed’ to complete the restoration of the Temple. Small wonder, then, that Ezra ‘took courage, since the hand of Adonai my God was on me’ (Ezra 7:18).
Often, when I’m faced with a situation that seems impossible, I ask God to change the people or the circumstances that are in the way – to change attitudes and minds. And He may. But what these stories tell me is that, when ‘the good hand of the Lord’ is on someone, the impossible may happen. So, what do I have to do to experience ‘the good hand of God’ on me?
Ezra was a man of prayer who lived in obedience to God. It’s upon such people that God’s good hand rests, because they’ve already put themselves ‘under His hand’. He sought God in prayer and, having met with Him there – having come under His hand there – Ezra moved as God’s hand moved: in obedience. And it was no small thing that he did: it involved a journey of over two thousand miles!
When Ezra went under the hand of God to Artaxerxes with his request, it was as if the hand of God hovered over the king, too. Some years later, Nehemiah had the same experience (Nehemiah 2:8). When, under the hand of God, he made his request to the same king, that hand, even though the king didn’t know it, was over him too. It wasn’t that these men took the hand of God with them; it was that where the hand of God went, they went too.
It’s a bit of a challenge, isn’t it? Day by day I need to discern the hand of God and put myself ‘under His good hand’. That’s a place of safety and security. Later Ezra says, ‘The hand of God was on us and He protected us from our enemies’ (Ezra 8:31). But it’s also a place of great blessing.
Prayer: Father God, I praise You that Your heart is to bless and protect me through this day. I willingly commit myself to trust and obey You in all that I do today. Please reveal Your good hand to me, so that I may do Your will, trusting in Your gracious provision for every need. Amen.
Please feel free to use this devotional to send on to your friends or share with your church fellowship. Provided full acknowledgement is made to Seeds of the Kingdom as the source, you are also welcome to use it in a non-commercial way and reproduce it in magazines or other Christian websites. The copyright for any commercial use of the material remains with Ellel Ministries International.