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May 26 Today’s Reading: Ezra 10-Nehemiah 2
“We have trespassed against our God.”
What a remarkable man of faith Ezra was! What a great leader God gave his people in this man, Ezra! Believing God, he was ashamed to ask for the help of the king and the protection of the king’s soldiers against the enemy. O my God give me grace to follow Ezra’s example! If we believe God, we ought to be ashamed to seek, let alone crave the help of man.
Yet, when Ezra prayed for the people, confessing the sins of the nation, he began by confessing his own sin. Have I not reason to do the same? Going astray from my mother’s womb, speaking lies, I sought and formed strange alliances with anything and everything opposed to God all my life. Never would I have put away those strange wives of Babylon had not the Lord Jesus, like another Ezra, have come with grace in his lips and love in his heart, and by his Holy Spirit convinced me of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment. He, by omnipotent mercy, cut me off from everything I chose, divorced me from the wicked objects of my ardent devotion, betrothed me to himself, and made me forever his!
How I thank you, my God, my Savior, my omnipotent, ever-merciful Bridegroom, that you would not take “no” for an answer from me; but graciously forced yourself upon me, and sweetly forced me into your arms of mercy by your all-conquering love! Yes, our Maker is our Husband. The Lord of Hosts is his name.
As we leave Ezra and enter Nehemiah, we are again met with the brief, historic records of a small remnant left in captivity in great affliction and reproach. The men and women who make up this small remnant are, to all natural appearance, utterly insignificant. Compared with other nations, Israel and Judah are nothing. Yet, the histories recorded by God upon the pages of divine Inspiration give no consideration to any other nation. In fact, the great nations of the earth, the vast empires of the world are not even mentioned in the Book of God, except as the recorded history of God’s church is mixed with the truly insignificant history of the world.
Pharaoh, Artaxerxes, and Nebuchadnezzar, Egypt, Persia, and Babylon are never even mentioned in the Word of God, except in a collateral way as having some connection or interaction with the people of God. Those mighty, flourishing kingdoms, those monarchs who terrified the world, all the world’s great philosophers, all the rich and mighty people of the earth are glossed over in Holy Scripture almost as though they never existed, as if they were totally insignificant. Why
In the language of Scripture, “Behold, the nations are as a drop of a bucket, and are counted as the small dust of the balance: behold, he taketh up the isles as a very little thing” (Isaiah 40:15). Learn, O my soul, learn this lesson. Holy Spirit of God, write it upon my heart. — The only nation of concern to God is his church, that holy nation of his redeemed, his elect, “the Israel of God.” All other nations and all other people exist only to serve the interest of the nation. Ham exists only to serve Shem and Japheth. O blessed, free, distinguishing grace! — “Happy art thou, O Israel; who is like unto thee, O people saved by the Lord!”