Wednesday, 10 August 2016

The Hand of the Lord


“This Ezra went up from Babylon; and he was a ready scribe in the law of Moses, which the LORD God of Israel had given: and the king granted him all his request, according to the hand of the LORD his God upon him.” (Ezra 7:6)
Neither Ezra, who was a scribe, nor Nehemiah, who was apparently a butler, had been prepared by either study or experience to supervise a great construction project, rebuilding the temple in Jerusalem and the wall of the city, both of which had been destroyed many years before by the armies of Babylon. Yet God called them to these ministries and led them and protected them as they carried them out.
They were both careful, then, to give God the credit for what they had accomplished. No less than six times in Ezra and twice in Nehemiah they reminded their readers that God’s hand had been upon them as they supervised the work (see Ezra 7:6,9,28;8:18-22,31; Nehemiah 2:8,18).
There had been many difficulties and much opposition, but as Paul would later say: “If God be for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31).
We also need to be careful to give God the credit for anything He enables us to accomplish in His service. Even such a great and useful Christian as the apostle Paul had to say: “But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me” (1 Corinthians 15:10).
We remember, however, that the hand of the Lord can be a chastening hand as well as a guiding and providing hand. When a certain false prophet tried “to pervert the right ways of the Lord,” Paul said: “The hand of the Lord is upon thee, and thou shalt be blind” (Acts 13:10-11). And so it was. “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Hebrews 10:31).

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