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Bible Commentaries

James Nisbet's Church Pulpit Commentary

Ezra 8



Verse 31-32


‘The hand of our God was upon us.… And we came to Jerusalem.’

Ezra 8:31-32

I. If Ezra had been a coward, he would never have accomplished what he did.—Had he looked at the difficulties in the way, he never would have started for Jerusalem, for the journey was long and dangerous. It lasted for four months, and he knew that there were many robbers in the way, and that he was especially exposed to them, for he carried about four million dollars in treasure in his caravan. But he trusted in his God, and took courage, and in the end he succeeded in getting to Jerusalem in safety.

II. What he did in his line of duty we may do in ours.—A Christian worker told me of all the difficulties in the way of Sunday school work in his village. As a result, he had given up trying to do much. But he was only an example of many in these days. They say, ‘There is a lion in the way; a lion is in the streets,’ and then they lie down and go to sleep, instead of starting out to kill the lion. Now what we need to learn from Ezra is that difficulties are not to daunt us, but to stimulate us to more of effort. The world has many examples of mere boys and girls who have succeeded because they have faced the difficulties that confronted them, and have overcome them. What we want to know first is that we are in the path of duty, and then we must let no obstacles daunt us.

III. There is another lesson that we may learn from this story of the experiences of Judah, and that is that mere outward things will not insure our spiritual welfare.—The Temple in Jerusalem had long been completed, but Ezra found that the people had gone off once more into idolatrous marriage alliances, and there was danger that they would fall into idolatry themselves, as their fathers did. To this Ezra put a stop. Just so we are in danger all the time of mistaking the outward for the inward. How many church buildings have we in the United Kingdom? Are our people, then, all that they should be? Far from it. In spite of churches and chapels there are still millions in the land who never go inside a place of worship. But do all that go to church live as they should? Alas! no. There are many thousands of church-goers who are anything but what they should be. These people ‘have a name to live, but are dead.’ They mistake the outward for the inward, and so are hypocrites. How stands the matter with you? If things are not right, then learn from this incident that nothing but true inward worship is well pleasing to God, and no amount of church-going will make up for genuine heart-worship.


‘Ezra was ashamed to ask for a band of soldiers because he had boasted to the king of Jehovah’s power and faithfulness. There was really nothing inconsistent between the testimony Ezra had borne to the divine power and faithfulness and a request for a bodyguard, yet it was possible that the request might be misconstrued, and therefore, yielding to a fine sensitiveness for the honour of God and the welfare of His cause, the noble priest resolved to transcend policy and trust everything to the unseen horses and chariots of fire. Occasions still arise when devout men find themselves in similar perplexity, and when they must determine whether they will trust themselves and their interests to ordinary human safeguards or rest simply on pure faith in the unseen.’


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These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Nisbet, James. "Commentary on Ezra 8:4". Church Pulpit Commentary. 1876.

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