Now after these things, in the reign of Artaxerxes king of Persia, Ezra the son of Seraiah, the son of Azariah, the son of Hilkiah,…
Ezra was wonderfully blessed in his desire and effort to restore Jerusalem and rebuild the temple. Seemingly, the power and the blessing which served Ezra so signally was all from "the king," but really it was all from Ezra's "God," whose will disposed the king's heart, whose providence guided every step, and whose power and Spirit gave efficiency and success to every plan and effort. And so it is in all human planning and effort. The success is just in the measure of "God's hand upon us." If we rise up to build, and do not first enlist His gracious approval, providential interposition, and Spirit's agency, our best efforts will miscarry or prove disastrous. If we plan a revival, and put in requisition the agencies, and will the conversion of sinners, we shall be sadly disappointed, if we do not first, by prayer and preparation, array God the Lord on our side, and get hold of His "outstretched arm of salvation." It is easy to work, and glorious are the results — all human agencies so readily fall into line and aid us — when the hand of the Lord our God is upon us. The application, the lesson, is therefore obvious —
1. Prayer lies at the foundation of all wise planning and all successful effort to advance Christ's kingdom in the world.
2. God's hand must be upon us — His providence must be enlisted in our behalf — there must be co-operation between the Divine and the human.
3. The secret of declension, of abounding evil, of the lack of converting power in the Church, of the dearth of revivals, is to be found in the fact that God's hand is not upon us, because of the lack of faith and prayer.
(J. M. Sherwood, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Now after these things, in the reign of Artaxerxes king of Persia, Ezra the son of Seraiah, the son of Azariah, the son of Hilkiah,