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May 25 Today’s Reading: Ezra 7-9
“Salt without Measure”
Take a careful look at the great bounty heaped upon Ezra, God’s priest, the ready scribe, raised up and appointed by God to lead his people in rebuilding the temple at Jerusalem. Artaxerxes, the heathen king of Persia, ordered that his treasurers supply Ezra and the people of God with everything they needed to do the work God sent them to perform (Ezra 7:21-26). Did that idolatrous heathen monarch assist the cause of God and the people of God? Surely there is bread for our souls here.
John saw a wonder in heaven when he saw the earth helping the woman (Revelation 12:16). This is truly a wonder that can be explained only by the sovereign grace and distinguishing goodness of our God! Wicked men are often made the unwitting instruments by which God accomplishes his good purpose of grace in predestination for his people, causing the reprobate to accomplish the very reverse of what they intend. The sons of Jacob intended to ruin Joseph, but only exalted him. So, too, when the Jews (full of envy, malice, and barbaric cruelty) crucified the Lord of life and glory, they became the instruments to accomplish the very purpose for which God created the world, — the redemption of our souls by the precious blood of his dear Son (Acts 2:23).
How we ought to admire and adore the Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob for the wonderful change he wrought in the minds of Artaxerxes and his princes, causing them to favor the cause of God and his people so highly. Not only was Ezra given authority to take with him all who were inclined by the Spirit of God to go up to Jerusalem, he was supplied with money and materials so liberally that he was able to perform all that God required at Persia’s expense! More than that, — Artaxerxes imposed upon all his subjects complete obedience to Ezra, requiring them to do whatever Ezra demanded to build again the house of God! — “The king's heart is in the hand of the LORD, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will ” (Proverbs 21:1). — “Surely the wrath of man shall praise thee: the remainder of wrath shalt thou restrain” (Psalm 76:1).
Salt and Grace
Salt was used in every offering made by fire unto the Lord. Because of its preserving and purifying properties, it was an emblem of divine grace in the soul. When Artaxerxes supplied Ezra the priest with everything needed to build the house of God at Jerusalem, he gave him “salt without measure.” And when the King of kings distributes grace to his chosen, among his royal priesthood, he gives grace without measure. — “That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 5:21).
He who gathers manna is free to gather all he desires. Though there is often famine in ours poor souls, there is never a famine in God’s Jerusalem. God’s children are never required to eat their bread by weight and drink their water by measure. Some things are measured to us; but not our blessings.
Our vinegar and gall are given us with such exactness that we never have a single drop too much, but of the salt of grace no stint is made. — “Ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you” (John 15:7). Our God is never niggardly in his gifts. Parents must hide candies and sweets from their children, lest they overindulge themselves; but salt may be left on the table. Few children will eat too much salt. And though we may get too much money or too much honor, we cannot have too much grace. When Jeshurun waxed fat in the flesh, “he forsook God and lightly esteemed the Rock of Israel” (Deuteronomy 32:15). But there is no fear of anyone becoming too full of grace. A plethora of grace is impossible. More wealth brings more care; but more grace brings more joy. Increasing wisdom brings increasing sorrow; but abundance of grace is fulness of joy. Therefore grace and peace and mercy and love are always multiplied to God’s elect, never subtracted and never divided, just multiplied (1 Peter 1:2; 2 Peter 1:2; Jude 2).
Child of God, go to the throne for a large supply of heavenly salt. It will season your afflictions, lest they be unsavory to you. It will preserve your heart, which corrupts if salt is absent. And it will drive away sin as salt drives away reptiles. We need much salt. So seek much and have much (Hebrews 4:16).