This letter to Ezra contains many blessings from this pagan king. King Artaxerxes may not be an Israelite, but he certainly holds God in high regard. Many believers don’t have the same respect as this king. The time of exile must have made quite an impact on the kingly leadership of that day. Those who stayed faithful became tremendous testimonies to the majesty and grace of the great God we serve.
Anytime we can share our witness with others, we can make a difference. You never know who is watching. You never know how God is going to use any of the people you encounter. Ezra wanted to study and bring awareness to his own people, yet he was clearly spreading a message to non-believers as well.
It makes me smile to see so much tribute going to our wonderful God. With all the hate and animosity in our world today, it’s hard to fathom such generosity among nations. Although sharing military might and provisions following a natural disaster may be the exception.
The king was asking something of Ezra in return. Ezra’s authority extended beyond Jerusalem, to the “province west of the Euphrates River.” According to this letter, “Anyone who refuses to obey the law of your God and the law of the king will be punished immediately, either by death, banishment, confiscation of goods, or imprisonment.” It looks like that gives Ezra the ability to teach people outside Jerusalem about God’s laws so they could be obeyed.
There’s an “and” in that decree. How cools is it that the people are expected to obey both God’s law and the king’s law or be punished. I thought that was interesting that the king would include both requirements. What would our world look like today if both laws were enforced?
Maybe there should be more “fear of the Lord” like Artaxerxes had when he said he didn’t want to “risk bringing God’s anger against the realm of the king and his sons.” God’s anger. That is something I want to avoid, too!
What stood out to you in this passage? Maybe you’re still stuck on picturing what 550 gallons of oil and wine must look like! Reflect on the provisions our King Jesus has poured out on you.
Let’s pray. Father God, thank you for how you used the pagan kings to protect your people and help sustain them through the transition of restoration. I know you provide for me, too. I am so grateful. Fill my heart with love and grace so I can teach others about you and your Word. I want to live in your will and help others find their way back to you. Use my words and my actions for your glory. In Jesus’ name. Amen.