Ezra 8:21 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.
This story is one that benefits from footnotes to the text, because we don’t have a grasp of the units of weight mentioned. It boggles the mind that they were taking nearly 30 tons of gold and silver with them. Considering the general public safety of the day, that was like an open invitation to be slaughtered! Ezra had the right answer, even though it would be ridiculed even today: pray. I happen to be a proponent of concealed carry (and would do so if I lived in the US) but this is far more important. Weapons can be entirely appropriate at times, (Luke 22:36) but they aren’t the ultimate answer. Right now the world is a dangerous place indeed, on many levels. Prayer is essential! Perceived weakness can be very dangerous, and perceived strength can be a source of safety. Probably one thing the Lord used in keeping this group safe was the fact that they were clearly a Persian entourage, and Persia was far and away the greatest military power of the day. That probably contributed to bandits not wanting to mess with them. That said, it was no guarantee, as Ezra well knew, and prayer was certainly called for. There is a difference when you are facing a rival and when you are facing a genuine enemy. With school sports competitions, for example, it is entirely appropriate to pray for protection from injury and that every player would be able to do their best and the team coordinate well, but praying to trounce the opponents is out of place. However, that’s not the picture when it comes to enemies like ISIS, or even the home invader who’s after your stuff. We aren’t to be paranoid, but we must remember where our safety lies, and depend on Him.
I am very blessed that Japan has some of the best public safety in the world, but at the same time we are entirely in reach of North Korea’s missiles. That’s not something I can protect against, personally, but I can pray. My children and grandchildren are in the US, where I can’t be to protect them by any physical means, but I can pray. I am not where I can touch my brothers and sisters across the globe who are being persecuted for their faith, but I can pray. I need to remember that I am never helpless, because God is my Helper. To receive His help, I’ve got to be humble before Him, as Ezra knew. I am to make appropriate use of all that He places in my hands, but know that the necessary wisdom and strength are all His, and ask Him to impart them to me as needed. If I will do that, I indeed have nothing to be worried about.
Father, thank You indeed for Your protection. Keep me from stepping away from that protection by my willful disobedience. May I be humbly, gratefully obedient to You at all times, so that all of Your plans for me, and none of the enemy’s, be fulfilled, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!