EZRA 8:21-23 – Then I proclaimed a fast there, at the river Ahava, that we might humble ourselves before our God, to seek from him a safe journey for ourselves, our children, and all our goods. For I was ashamed to ask the king for a band of soldiers and horsemen to protect us against the enemy on our way, since we had told the king, “The hand of our God is for good on all who seek him, and the power of his wrath is against all who forsake him.” So we fasted and implored our God for this, and he listened to our entreaty.
THEME OF THE DAY. REMEMBER GOD’S REPUTATION. Have we recently pondered the tremendous responsibility we have as Christians? Not privileges. Those are many, even countless – knowing God, enjoying God, communing with God, and eventually being in eternity with God are just four of the abundant privileges of bearing the name of His Son, the Lord Jesus. I am referring to our responsibilities before a watching world. These, too, are many. Sharing the Gospel, living holy and separated lives, obeying His Word, and loving His people are just four. But I want us to focus on one. It is revealed in Ezra’s words found in today’s scripture.
Enter the scene. Ezra, the leader of the Israelites, has called a fast. It was a fast for two reasons – to humble themselves before God, which was an acknowledgement of their dependency upon Him, and to seek His favor in protecting them on the dangerous journey they were undertaking. These are important lessons in and of themselves – the practice of fasting to humble ourselves and declare our dependency upon Him for life in this dangerous world. Perhaps we need to recover the practice of Biblical fasting as individual believers and churches. After all, our Lord Jesus says, “When you fast” indicating the assumption we do fast (Matthew 6:16). But there is another lesson from Ezra and this deals with God’s reputation. Ezra’s plea to God when beyond humility and dependency. Let his words settle into our thinking. After he gives the reason for the fast, he reveals what was behind the reason – For I was ashamed to ask the king for a band of soldiers and horsemen to protect us against the enemy on our way, since we had told the king, “The hand of our God is for good on all who seek him, and the power of his wrath is against all who forsake him.” Don’t miss what is happening. Ezra is far more concerned about God’ honor and reputation than he is about personal reputation or even safety. He is praying, “Lord, we cannot rely upon the arm of flesh, mere human protection and help. We said before a watching world that You are strength and protection. Please answer our prayers for Your sake.”
Friends, when we make a public profession of faith in Christ, we are not really the ones on display. Jesus is. Our profession of faith gives the world either the Biblical portrait of Christ or a false one. And this portrait is being painted every day of our lives in every relationship. People see Jesus through us. This is our greatest responsibility in the world – to represent Him well and correctly, not perfectly, but Biblically and sincerely. Ezra understood what was at stake by publicly announcing his reliance on God – God’s reputation and name. What a great truth to remember! To live with this awareness, we give the world an accurate picture of the Lord Jesus – One who is ready to save and be the God of all comfort now and forever.
PRAYER: “Father, help me to always remember I represent You before a watching world.”
QUOTE: “It is a big deal being a Christian. People will see or not the reality of Christ through us.”