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  • Writer's pictureRev. Kim Taylor

Pastor's Ponderings: Old Testament bible study on Ezra 8:26-34 (February 15, 2024)

February 15, 2024


Thursday morning Bible Study on the OT book of Ezra 8:26-34


Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,


Welcome to the season of Lent in the Church Year.  For the next six weeks, we will journey with Christ in His ministry to see the conflicts which developed between our Savior and the religious leaders of Christ's time, and to reflect on our own desperate need for Christ's forgiveness and Love.  There will be mid-week services at Noon on Wednesdays, recorded to give you an opportunity to share the service at a later time.  You can link to it on YouTube at the church website, godsplaceforgrace.org.  Note: next Wednesday there will be no recorded service.  That date is February 21.  All others will be available on the day they are recorded.  Don't miss this Saturday's 2PM Free movie. We will meet in the sanctuary to see this free movie.  Snacks provided.  This is an excellent family movie, or if you are a dog lover, this movie is for you.  Please join us for worship on Sunday at 10AM.  Today prayers please for the victims of the shootings in Kansas City, especially for the family and friends of the woman who was killed, and of course for the 20 wounded.   




A holy bible open to the Old Testament book of Ezra
The Old Testament book of Ezra

Today we continue in the 8th chapter of the book of Ezra.  In it we find a list of the people who were from priestly families who Ezra encouraged to join him on his trip to Jerusalem.  Each of them will be responsible for a large, valuable portion of the money gifts and the Temple furnishings.  They will be carrying them on the journey and are responsible for their safety.  When you look at the amount of silver, gold, and furnishings, they are sizable.  Each talent weighed between 75 and 100 pounds.  Though the amount might seem legendary in it weight, altogether the silver was about 65,000 pounds.  NO wonder that Ezra was more than a little worried about traveling without an army guard.  Now add in 10,000 pounds of gold.   In today's values the gold would be worth $3,190,400!  The silver would be worth $239,400!  Neither of these includes the furnishings of gold, silver, and polished bronze.  The monetary value for which each priest was responsible was huge.


As we look at this passage there are a number of places where we can see God's hand at work in this journey which Ezra was taking on:


1.       God moved Artaxerxes to agree for everything that Ezra requested.


2.     It was God who moved Ezra to speak to Artaxerxes boldly about the fact that this journey would not need armed guards, because God Himself would keep them all safe.


3.     it was God who guided Ezra to send out for priests to accompany them, and God moved priests to consent to go along.


4.     It was God who protected all of the people and the wealth they carried on the journey to Jerusalem.


Ezra knew that all of this was the movement of God / His Spirit that guided this entire endeavor.  I can speak to this all very personally.  I too have felt that imperceptible and invisible presence of the Holy in my own journeys in life, including the call to serve the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ in the midst of the people of American Lutheran Church in Tucson.  I also know that very same Holy presence of God moved the call committee and the congregation to offer me opportunity to be this congregation's pastoral leader for thirty-three years now.  Another example would be how often people have asked me what Melody and I were thinking of when we adopted four boys late in life.  The only thing that I am able to say, is that we both came to know it came from God, and was right, and good, and just, not only for us, but for our adopted children too.  This is exactly how God's gift of faith works in our lives.  For Ezra it meant taking on this movement of wealth and people to get both back to Jerusalem, and to, once again, get things moving for the rebuilding of the city and the temple.  It also meant that he trusted God in all of it.  This is what our faith life is supposed to be like too.  Take a few moments to ask yourself when you have heard that that quiet small voice that fills you with the courage to do what is right, and good, and just before God. 


As an aside: You might wonder the reason for the purification offerings to God.  All of these people who returned from Persia had never lived in the promised land.  They were therefore considered unclean, with a built-up defilement in them, because of their lives away from the temple and God.  I know that the number of animals destroyed by burning them on the altar, were offered in multiples of twelve to represent the whole of the people of Israel.  We might remember that Jesus had plenty to say about the nature of being clean.  The sacrifice for which God is looking is a contrite and humble heart of love, first for God, and then for one's neighbor.  Perhaps all of this points to what is coming through Christ when we see His ministry unfold before us in the New Testament.


Thanks for letting me share with you today.


With the Love and Hope of Christ, Pastor Kim

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