Ezra 7-10: Putting Your Money Where Your Mouth Is

Put your money where your mouth is. It’s a phrase we all have heard, but I admit that I’ve never really thought about what it meant.

Of course it means something like, “you can talk a big game, but can you back it up?” or “are you willing to lose something valuable to prove your claim?” It’s a gambling term.

Well, in Ezra chapter 8, Ezra and the people of Judah really put their money where their mouth was. Ezra had been sent by the king of Babylon to reorganize and reform the religious lives of the people of Judah. Part of this reform involved bringing the Levites back to Jerusalem. Apparently, this was a difficult and dangerous task, because starting in verse 21 of chapter 8, Ezra records:

Then I proclaimed a fast there, at the river Ahava, that we might humble ourselves before our God, to seek from him a safe journey for ourselves, our children, and all our goods. For I was ashamed to ask the king for a band of soldiers and horsemen to protect us against the enemy on our way, since we had told the king, “The hand of our God is for good on all who seek him, and the power of his wrath is against all who forsake him.” So we fasted and implored our God for this, and he listened to our entreaty.

Ezra had refused to ask for help because of the bold claims he had made concerning His God. So, instead of sucking it up and going to the king and saying, “on second thought, could we take some of your soldiers just in case God doesn’t come through for us,” he puts his money where his mouth is. Ezra calls for fasting and prayer, pleading with God for protection and safety.

At first glance, this might look like an act of pride. It seems a bit like Ezra is too proud to ask for the kings’s help. After all, Ezra would probably not have been sinning if he had asked the king for protection. God provides all kinds of help for His people, and the kings guards may have been God’s means of protection for Ezra.

But it can’t be pride, because this passage clearly states that Ezra called a fast for the humbling of the people. Ezra is not prideful, he is calling on the Lord to do exactly what He does, care for those who seek Him and condemn those who forsake Him. Ezra expects God to protect them because Ezra expects God to faithfully care for His people. Ezra is not gambling. His God is a sure thing.

But what do we do with this? Because taking this attitude too far leads to groups like the Christian Scientists. They believe that medicine is useless because God heals however and whenever He wills. They don’t get treatment for any disease or affliction and many die from things that are extremely treatable.

The thrust of this passage is not to say that all human means of help are bad, but that ultimately, any help that we receive, any progress we make, any breath of air we take into our lungs is given to us by God, and He will always care for those who seek Him out.

So, be encouraged, seek the Lord and He will care for you, and His care is eternally secure. We may fall by the sword or by cancer, but our lives are hid with Christ on high if we have indeed He sits on the throne of our hearts.

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