The Good Hand of God was Upon Him
My dear reader, God is either for you or against you. This is true for all people everywhere and at all times. If God is for you, who can be against you? If God is against you, who could be for you? Thus, Christians speak of “relationship with God in Christ.” This relationship is said to be personal — He knows us by name from eternity (Rev 13:8; 17:8). We know and love His name because it is the Name above all other names (Eph 1:21; Phil 2:9).
In the eternal decree of God in eternity, His predetermined plan and for-love was set upon His chosen people, who are known as God’s elect from before the foundation of the world (Acts 2:23; Rom 11:5; Eph 1:4–5). This remnant people from every nation, tribe, and tongue and at every point in history has fulfilled God’s eternal purpose to bring glory to Himself (Rev 5:9; 7:9). Those people God predestined, He called to serve Him in their generation (Acts 13:36; Rom 8:30).
None of God’s elect have been perfect or sinless, except God’s elect and begotten Son, Jesus Christ, the Righteous (2 Cor 5:21; Heb 4:15). Therefore, the Bible gives hope to lost sinners that our merciful God is working His eternal plan in what is called the doctrine of providence. All things that come to pass are the product of God’s providence derived from what has been eternally decreed.
Not all people have faith in God’s revelation of Himself (2 Thess 3:2). They do not have faith because God has not sent His Spirit to those who were not elect, redeemed, or regenerated (Jn 14:17). These unbelievers were not given to God’s Son (1 Jn 5:12); therefore, they do not belong to Him (Jn 10:26). They have no love for God in their hearts (Jn 5:42) because there is no room for God’s Word there (Jn 8:47). Faith comes by hearing, and it is God’s Word that opens the ears of the spiritually deaf (Rom 10:17).
Ezra was a chosen man of God born into captivity at Babylon. Some 458 years before Christ’s incarnate arrival into the world, Ezra was created and conformed to perform tasks and fulfill a mission that would serve to point billions of people to Jesus Christ.
Ezra was a ready scribe in the house of Israel (Ezra 7:6), the name given to all people whose place is in Christ’s church in every age (Is 49:6; Gal 6:16). Thus, it is recorded that he was skilled in the law of Moses, and this was true because he set his heart to study the Law of the Lord — yes, to study, to practice, and to teach it in Israel (Ezra 7:10).
Just as God sent Zerubbabel on mission from Babylon to Jerusalem to rebuild the altar and temple, so Ezra was sent to bring the Word of God back into the rebuilt house of Yahweh. The result of the Word preached in the presence of God’s restored people, at God’s restored house, would be restored worship by Yahweh’s holy nation.
Because the kingdom of God is an invading enterprise in the kingdom of this world, God’s people have and always will face resistance from the reprobate children of the devil. Satan, the adversary of God, Christ, and His royal priests, has inspired evil men in every generation to attempt to thwart the will and work of God. History is heavy-laden with enemies of God — Cain, Lamech, Nimrod, Rehum, Sanballat, Herod, Caiaphas, Judas Iscariot are just a few recorded in the Bible.
One simple lesson we learn from Ezra the scribe, priest, governor, and judge of Israel is that when God is for you because He has written you into His plans, then it can be said that the good hand of God was upon you (Ezra 7:6, 10, 28; 8:18, 22, 31).
When the world imagined it had stopped God’s dread champion (Jer 20:11), by putting Him to death on a cross, God’s plan was revealed — to turn the evil of men for good. This is true for every believer in every situation. He causes it all to work together for good because His good hand is upon us for good (Rom 8:28).
God’s will must be done, and it requires God’s work to accomplish it all (Is 26:12; Phil 2:13). We are but witnesses to God fulfilling His promises to His chosen people in Christ (Acts 1:8).
Ezra had favor with Artaxerxes, king of Persia. Why? Ezra had an arduous elongated journey from Babylon to Jerusalem (a 4-month journey over the fertile crescent). It was a trip that included a significant load of recovered treasures and no armored security to assist the repatriated pilgrims to the Promised Land. It was a journey of faith, and it was successful against all odds. Why?
Ezra’s respectful rejection of the world’s help for his appointed kingdom task is our lesson for today, “The hand of our God is favorably disposed to all those who seek Him, but His power and His anger are against all those who forsake Him.” How then should we live in service to Jesus Christ, our Lord, who directs our tasks in His temple building project (Mt 16:18; Eph 2:20–22)?
Christian, you are victorious against all adversity, appointed by God for your sanctification. By faith, you follow Christ in His triumph (2 Cor 2:14; 1 Jn 5:4). Jesus overcomes all the world’s machinations to hinder the restoration of worship by God’s chosen people. You carry the riches of His mercy and grace in earthen vessels (Holy Spirit). You have the blessed assurance of His presence en route to the better country and the New Jerusalem, where living stones are gathered in perfect worship declaring, “Our God reigns!”
Finally, stay the narrow course to heavenly Zion. Abound in the work of the Lord, by the power that works mightily in you. And remember, never forgetting come what may, the good hand of God is upon you now, today, and always…and in every way.
Spokane Valley, Washington
May 1, 2022