Trusting in God.
“That we might humble ourselves before our God to seek from Him a safe journey for us, our little ones, and all our possessions..”
Ezra and the families that were to travel with them faced a daunting task. They were going to travel from Babylon back to Jerusalem, a distance of approximately 1500 miles. The journey would take them four months and traverse a dangerous country. Although the caravan would be significant, they were still vulnerable to the marauding bands of thieves that roamed the wilderness. They were not trained soldiers who could fight. They were priests, laborers, and ordinary people, making them a target for thieves and opportunists who would see this caravan as a prime objective.
To add to the threat, they traveled with a vast sum of money. After collecting offerings from the Jews in Babylon, they would take 750 talents of silver and silver utensils. A talent weighed approximately 75 pounds. A talent of silver today would be worth roughly $27,000. Thus the value they would take with them would be around 20.25 million dollars of Silver. They also report that they would be carrying 100 talents of Gold. In today's value, it would be approximately 200 million dollars. This large sum of money would make them an irresistible target for thieves and vagabonds. It is no wonder that Ezra was deeply concerned for their safety.
Traditional wisdom would suggest that a caravan carrying this much wealth would ask for a large contingency of a military escort to provide protection. However, for Ezra, there was more at stake than their safety and the wealth they might lose if attacked. What was at stake was the reputation of God. In his conversation with the King of Babylon, Ezra had testified that the God they worshiped was omnipotent and that he cared for and protected his people. If he were to ask for a military escort, it would contradict what he had said. Therefore he affirmed and trusted God.
It is one thing to affirm our faith in God; it is another thing to maintain our trust when we are facing adversity and difficulties in life. Often we profess one thing in our statements and doctrines, but when push comes to shove, we do another. It is easy to praise God for his providential care for us when everything is going well, but it is a different story when our circumstances are dark and foreboding. This confronts us with the challenge of integrating our faith and doctrine into our life and perspective. Faith is more than just affirming truths; it is living by those truths and bringing them to bear in our attitude and response to life. We need to be able to relate the Biblical truths about God and his character to our daily life so that it shapes our views and actions. What we believe about God must be more than just affirmations we make about God; it must give clarity to our decisions and provide us direction in the struggles and questions we face in life. We must move what we believe about God and what we find in the Bible and place it into our daily circumstances. Then the Bible is not just an ancient record of God’s activity of the past; it is the living Word of God transforming and guiding us today.
For Ezra, his faith was more than just a statement; it was a way of life. He trusted in God's wisdom and power more than man's wisdom and power. He provides an example for us today. Are we merely affirming statements about God, or are we genuinely allowing God’s character to shape us? Do we give lip service to his character but turn to others for answers? Instead of seeking the wisdom of men, “seek God concerning the matter for He will listen to your entreaty” (verse 23).