TODAY’S SPECIAL: Ezra 8:21-32
TO CHEW ON: "There by Ahava Canal, I proclaimed a fast, so that we might humble ourselves before our God and ask him for a safe journey for us and our children and all our possessions." Ezra 8:21
Ezra hugged the king’s letter to himself. He could hardly believe it – permission to go back home! He opened the letter and read it again. Yes, there it was. Not only could he gather the people for the trip back to Jerusalem, but the king was also sending gold and silver to replace the temple furniture.
About sixty years had passed since the first exiles had returned to Jerusalem. King Xerxes and Esther were now dead and a new king, Artaxerxes, ruled in Babylon. Ezra, a man who had spent his whole life studying God’s laws, was the leader of the exiles.
Quickly Ezra spread the word that they could go home to Jerusalem. People packed their belongings and gathered at Ahava Canal from where they would set out. Soon the crowd had swelled to 1700 people. Everyone was eager to get going.
But Ezra was worried. The trip would be long. With all the gold and silver they were carrying, they would be a target for bandits. The king had offered to send some soldiers along to protect them. But after telling the king how powerful his God was, Ezra felt stupid accepting the king’s protection.
So now Ezra called everyone together. “Before we leave,” he told them, “we’re going to fast and pray for God’s protection on our trip.” And that’s what they did before they set out.
The 900-mile trip took four months. Though I’m sure everyone got tired and sore from walking all that way, every person and all their possessions arrived in Jerusalem safely. God answered their prayer.
Do you ever pray for God’s protection for everyday things like travel? God is able to protect us on our travels just like he protected Ezra and the exiles. Next time you set out on a trip – long or short – remember to pray for God’s travel protection.
PRAYER: Dear God, please protect me in all my travels today. Amen.
Travel was not common in Ezra’s time – before cars buses, trains and planes. The 900-mile trip between Babylon to Jerusalem may have been the first trip some of these people had taken. Chances are you’ve traveled much farther than that already in your life. Tell about some of your travels.
1. What is the longest trip you’ve ever taken?
2. Circle how you got there: car/van/truck boat bus plane train other ________
3. Name some other places to which you have traveled.
4. What is your favorite travel memory?
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
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