A few days ago, I spent some time praying with my pastor. At one point in time, as he was praying for me, he laid his hand on me. It was his way of blessing me, affirming me, and connecting with me. We see this often in the Bible, too–that when people prayed for others to impact their world–people laid hands on them as they were commissioned to go.
As I was reading my Bible this morning, I came accross this passage where God’s hand was on the Old Testament leader, Ezra:
“Ezra arrived in Jerusalem in August of that year… for the gracious hand of his God was on him. This was because Ezra had determined to study and obey the Law of the Lord and to teach those decrees and regulations to the people of Israel,” Ezra 7:8-10.
This, of course, was when Ezra was sent to Jerusalem from Babylon to begin rebuilding the temple in Jerusalem. The passage goes on the explain the lavish generosity of the heathen king Artaxerxes to make sure everything was provided for the complete resoration of the temple “for the God of Israel.” As I was reading this, it made no sense that a carnal king would put so much out for a temple hundreds of miles away…except for the fact that God moved in the leader’s heart to do so.
Great things happen–supernatural things happen–when God’s hand is on us.
Notice, however, WHY God’s hand was on Ezra:
- Because Ezra had determined to study and obey the Law of the Lord
- Because Ezra had determined to teach those decrees and regulations to those who needed to know
Without belaboring the point, let me be sure we don’t miss a couple of essentials:
In reason #1, is was studying AND obeying that mattered. How easy it is to think we’re quite spiritual because we’ve learned something…or because we’re full of head knowledge…or because we have a degree…or because we have so much wisdom and experience in ministry matters…or because we know a little bit more than the person next to us. The KEY, however, is that we OBEY what God has said. We also see this in the Great Commission passage where Jesus’ last words instruct us to go about “teaching them to OBSERVE everything I have commanded you.” We sometimes think the emphasis is on the teaching (or learning), but it’s really on the obedience piece.
In reason #2, Ezra had determined to teach others what he had learned. I have found that, when I learn IN ORDER to pass it along, it brings a whole new dimension to my learning. Of course, we can never learn just for others while overlooking ourselves (that’s covered in reason #1), but a purposeful dimension, a ministry and body-life dimension is inserted into the equation when we plan to share our learning with others. And God loves it when we do this, as is clearly seen in this passage.
So–if you want God’s hand on you…if you want supernatural things to happen in your journey…if you want God-stories to tell to others, do what Ezra did. You too will find God’s strong hand upon you.
And that’s always very good.