Scripture Reading: Ezra 8:15-9:15 / Revelation 14:1-13 / Proverbs 31:1-9
God’s grace and favor was upon Ezra and the Israelites as King Artaxerxes decreed for the temple in Jerusalem to be rebuilt. The king allowed as many Israelites as would desire, the opportunity to return to Jerusalem. He not only encouraged them to return, he commanded offerings to be given by the citizens for the expense of rebuilding the temple.
There was an overwhelming response to the king’s decree and they brought huge amounts of valuables to the returning Jews. The king, his officials and Israel brought them 25 tons of silver, close to 4 tons of silver articles, 4 tons of gold articles and polished bronze which was as precious as gold.
This was a tremendous blessing but it also presented a huge challenge for Ezra. The road to Jerusalem was not safe as thieves and bandits often robbed unsuspecting and unprepared travelers. They were in great danger of facing greedy and brutal criminals who would stop at nothing to heist such a treasure.
What made the situation worse, Ezra declined the king’s offer of a military escort to Jerusalem and was now regretting that decision. He had boldly told the king, “The gracious hand of our God is on everyone who looks to him, but his great anger is against all who forsake him.” (Ezra 8:22) Ezra had been witnessing to the king about how great God was and he put himself in a position where he was going to have to “practice what he preached.”
He was extremely humbled and desperate for God’s miraculous intervention. Ezra’s solution… “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, with all our possessions.” (vs.21) Ezra desired to touch the throne room of God and get His attention. He was so serious in his petition that he called all of the returning exiles to fast.
They were unwilling to go forward with His wonderful provisions alone, they needed His divine protection. The only way God’s protection would be secured was through fasting. We often overlook the value and need for fasting. When we deny ourselves of extended meals, God begins to mold our humble souls, intensify His power in our lives and turn up the heat on the enemy!
There are times when fasting and extensive spiritual warfare is needed. Jesus told his disciples the strongholds of satan can only be broken by “prayer and fasting.” (Mark 9:29) Ezra’s testimony, “The hand of our God was on us, and he protected us from enemies and bandits along the way.” (vs.31) Ezra found God to be faithful to their prayer and fasting. Be sensitive to The Spirit when He directs you to fast. We must be willing to diligently and sacrificially seek the face of God by fasting. When WE do…GOD always comes through!