On Monday I didn’t write because I was simply exhausted from too many days in a row of being on the go.
I spent the extra time that morning reading the entire book of Esther and I loved every single word of it.
Today I knew I wanted to write something, so I just read a shorter passage as I move on through finishing the Old Testament and guess what.
I loved every single word of that too.
And I came away with something to share, even though I only read a page and a half this time.
I love the Chronological Bible because it is putting the books of Scripture in time order and helps me gain new understanding as I am able to place God’s Word into the time frame of the history of His people.
My reading today covered the miraculous and gracious letter of commendation and the equally miraculous and gracious gifting of provisions given to Ezra by King Artaxerxes. All of that amazing information is outlined in Ezra 7.
How a pagan King wrote a letter of passage and gave a ton of material goods to Ezra so he could take a group of people back to Jerusalem and rebuild.
How this King mentions the God of heaven so many times, you start to think you lost your place and are reading the same sentence over and over.
And all of Chapter 7 is good stuff.
However, my thought for today comes from his passage:
There by the Ahava Canal, 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. I was ashamed to ask the King for soldiers and horseman to protect us from enemies on the road, because we had 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.” So we fasted and petitioned our God about this, and He answered our prayers.
I have several thoughts about this as I read that familiar passage of Scripture.
First of all, Ezra says that in order to humble themselves, they proclaimed a fast.
Yesterday I used the passage from 2 Chronicles 7:14…If My people who are called by My Name will humble themselves….
I will put myself in the examining seat here and say that I do not often make the connection between “humbling myself” and “fasting.”
I think I get humbled when I trip up socially or spiritually.
I can feel humbled when I complain about some small first world problem and then realize some people exist every single day without even the most basic of necessities.
But to intentionally humble myself usually ends up with me being hypersensitive to trying to play down anything that is looking like a blessing…piously bowing my head and chirping about how grateful I am to God for all He has done…trying to point to others and to Him so the spotlight is off of me…and while all of those things are definitely good things…they are not what Scripture is suggesting is the means to humbling myself before God.
Ezra …. proclaimed a fast…..so that…the people might humble themselves before their God.
Not sing praise songs to feel His presence more….
Not lay everything out and dedicate it to God and ask Him to bless it….
Do without food so that they would be humbled before God.
Let me tell you.
That is hard to do.
Right now we have a box of peaches that I believe God Himself sent to us from Heaven straight to the fruit section of our local Sam’s Club.
We bought them on Sunday and I have had at least one every single day.
And right after I eat one, I stare longingly at the remaining orbs of deliciousness and plan when I will be able to eat another.
I think about them when I am away from them.
And while I thank God for every bite of them, who do you think I am exalting in all of this?
My wants. My appetites. My happiness.
So do you see that by denying myself the fulfillment of my need to eat one of those today, I would be intentionally humbling MYSELF before my God?
The peaches are not evil.
My enjoyment of them is not wrong.
But to be intentional about denying myself one by fasting today, would be to … by faith…obey a spiritual law.
In fasting we ARE humbling ourselves before God.
The example is clear in Scripture.
There are so many other things I want to share about this so come on back tomorrow…that is enough for us to … wait for it…chew on today <3