Then we departed from the river of Ahava on the twelfth day of the first month, to go to Jerusalem. And the hand of our God was upon us, and He delivered us from the hand of the enemy and from ambush along the road. Ezra 8:31
In Ezra 8:22, we read that Ezra did not ask the king for protective escorts on his journey back to Jerusalem. Instead he rallied all who travelled with him to fast & pray for God’s protection.
What if Ezra and those who traveled with him got ambushed? Would he be considered irresponsible for not asking the king for escorts? These escorts could well have prevented or soften the impact if they were attacked along the way. Since Ezra had direct access to the King, one could argue that this could be the very reason he was placed in such a position – so that he could help the people of God get the best support for their cause.
However, let us be mindful that when we have more dependence on human means, the less we tend to depend on God. There is a fine balance we need to establish – depending on God versus depending on the means He provides. Many times, God provides the means to help us through circumstances. Our problem is that we often appreciate the means so much that we forget the one who gave us the means. As such, when provided with the means, we ought to use it. But we ought to keep our eyes fixed on the one who provided the means. When we are not provided with the means, we ought to exercise faith in Him who provided us with the opportunity to trust Him instead of the means He provides.
God knows exactly what we need according to the measure of faith He has given us. Let us seek Him whatever our circumstances may be.
For I was ashamed to request of the king an escort of soldiers and horsemen to help us against the enemy on the road, because we had spoken to the king, saying, “The hand of our God is upon all those for good who seek Him, but His power and His wrath are against all those who forsake Him.” Ezra 8:22
Ezra had a dilemma. He was to return to Jerusalem to re-construct the city with a group of Jews. There will be danger on the journey home. Should he “buy insurance” by asking the king for an escort of soldiers to protect those travelling with him against bandits & robbers? If he did, would this show that he had no faith in the God whom he worshipped? If he did not, what if they were indeed ambushed along the way? Hence, he got those who were with him to fast and seek God’s hand of mercy and protection.
This is is a good example of the exercise of faith and diligent seeking of God. However, it does not represent a direction that we should shun insurance or seek medical attention when required. Faith must be held in balance with human responsibility. We need to weigh all our situations before God and seek His guidance on these matters. Even if we used the means provided by God, eg medicine, our faith should not rest with these means, but in the God who provided these means.
Daniel’s friends who were thrown into the fire testified to King Nebuchadnezzar that they had confidence that their God will rescue them – Dan 3:17-18. But even if that did not happen, they will still not bow down to idols. This is the essence of true faith.
Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, so that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and also put it in writing, saying, Ezra 1:1
It says “…the Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia…”. God controls the hearts of kings. To God we must pray that He willl stir up the hearts of our national leaders and leaders in the world that they will uphold justice and not impose laws that will affect the kingdom of God. Pray also that these leaders will be humble and realise that their position of authority is bestowed by God. Therefore, they ought to rule with compassion and mercy.