Blessed be the Lord, the God of our fathers, who put such a thing as this into the heart of the king, to beautify the house of the Lord that is in Jerusalem, and who extended to me his steadfast love before the king and his counselors, and before all the king’s mighty officers. I took courage, for the hand of the Lord my God was on me, and I gathered leading men from Israel to go up with me.
I gathered them to the river that runs to Ahava, and there we camped three days.
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 7:27-28, 8:15a, 21-23 ESV
Some trust in chariots and some in horses,
but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.
They collapse and fall,
but we rise and stand upright. Psalm 20:7-8 ESV
A movie called Braveheart tells the story of a Scottish hero named William Wallace, who fought against an English king named Edward Longshanks. King Edward had conquered Scotland, but William Wallace inspired many Scottish men to join him to fight the English and win freedom back for Scotland. The Scottish met the English in a battle at Falkirk, and Wallace was counting on the help of two noblemen named Lochlan and Mornay and their armies. These two men, however, had been given money by King Edward, and they betrayed Wallace and fought against him and with the English. Because of that, Wallace lost the battle. The noblemen and their armies that he had trusted in had betrayed him and failed him.
Ezra was thankful to God for the favor of the king, but he knew that it would be foolish to put all of his trust in the king and his soldiers and horsemen to protect him. He knew that the favor and help of any earthly ruler could change, and also that it could fail. He encouraged all the people with him to put their trust in the only one who would never fail them. Ezra and everyone with him gathered together and prayed and fasted for three days to ask the Lord to be with them and protect them and help them reach their homeland safely, and God heard their prayers.
We are thankful when God works through police or the government or the armed forces to help and protect us, but we know that no earthly power will always be able to keep us perfectly safe. We might call the police when we need help, and we should certainly pray for our government and our armed forces. But the Lord is the only one we can trust completely to always be with us and help us. God came to us in Jesus to conquer sin and death and all the forces of evil on the cross, and because of this we know that no matter what happens on earth, he will keep us as his own people and bring us into his heavenly kingdom, a kingdom that will last forever.
Dear Jesus, thank you for bringing us into your kingdom. Please protect us and keep us yours, now and always. Amen.
Gibson, Mel, dir. Braveheart Paramount Pictures, 1995. Film.