THE GOOD HAND OF OUR GOD
By Patricia Jackson
The books of Ezra and Nehemiah are about the Jewish people whose past was scarred by sin and rebellion against God. God grew sick of their sinful lifestyle and refusal to repent. He allowed King Nebuchadnezzar to attack Jerusalem. During this conquest, the walls, gates, and homes were burned to the ground. The vessels of God were taken from the Temple and carried away by the heathen nation. The priests, rulers, and most were taken prisoner and carried off to Babylon.
Later Persia captured Babylon, and most of the captured Jews now lived in exile there. Seventy years later, the Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus, King of Persia, to build him a house (Temple) at Jerusalem and allow the captive Jews to return to their homeland.
Forty-two thousand returned to Jerusalem and Judah, every one unto his city. They built an altar of the God of Israel to offer burnt offerings thereon, as was written in the law of Moses.
They laid the foundation of the Temple of the Lord. However, they soon encountered resistance from local adversaries of Judah. It was several years later before the Temple was rebuilt and dedicated.
Eighty years later, Ezra, a scribe, requested of the King to go to Jerusalem. The King granted this request “according to the good hand of his God upon him.” (Ezra 7:9). Ezra had prepared his heart to see the law of the Lord, to do it, and to teach in Israel statutes and judgments. Approximately seven to eight thousand returned to Jerusalem with Ezra. V. 28 Ezra again says he was strengthened by the hand of the Lord my God upon him. In Ch 8, V 15-18, he prayed for ministers for the house of God and again recognized the good hand of God upon them. The people confessed and made a covenant with God to turn from their sins.
Nehemiah, King Artaxerxes cupbearer, learns that the walls and gates of Jerusalem had not yet been repaired. The city was open to attack and even captivity again. After praying for four months, Nehemiah requests the King to be allowed to go and rebuild the fallen down walls and gates. King Artaxerxes not only grants his request but provides a letter for him to obtain timber and materials. Nehemiah recognizes the King’s support was “according to the good hand of my God upon me.” (Nem. 2:8). Under the leadership of Nehemiah, with the help of the inhabitants, the walls and gates surrounding Jerusalem were rebuilt. The people drew lots to determine who would live inside the city.
These two men (in the books of Ezra and Nehemiah) understood that God had chosen them for important work, to bring his people home and restore the great city of Jerusalem and the Temple.
The same God that had his hand upon Ezra and Nehemiah can still be found today. When God has work for us to do, if we pray and submit, the work will be accomplished due to the good hand of God upon us. Have there been times in your life when you recognized that “the good hand of God was upon you?”
Patricia Jackson is the Assistant Teacher for the Ladies Class at Redeemed Free Will Baptist Church, Glenwood, NC. She is a grant writer for non-profits, a published author, and a retired Nursing Home Administrator. She lives in Rutherford County with her husband. Contact information: email address: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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