January 11, 2014


Ezra 7:11-28

Praise be to the LORD, the God of our ancestors, who has put it into the king’s heart to bring honor to the house of the LORD in Jerusalem in this way.
—Ezra 7:27


The last words about the apostle Paul are extraordinary. Acts 28:31 declares, “He proclaimed the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ—with all boldness and without hindrance!” Paul knew his authority came straight from Jesus.

In a similar way, Ezra was authorized by King Artaxerxes to assess and re-establish the people of Israel according to the law of God. Today’s verses describe how God worked through the king to bring God’s people into a new situation to serve him.

In exile, the freedom of the Israelites was restricted. But Ezra reported to Israel that their freedom to worship was now wide open. They could renew the kind of worship that reflected how God had saved them, freed them, and thus called for their obedience. King Artaxerxes and Ezra both knew they were God’s instruments. They both carried out their God-given roles for his purposes. The king gave Ezra the full protection of his empire to reaffirm Israel’s identity in the one true God, who rules over the kings of the world.

By “the God of heaven,” you are authorized to live an unhin-dered life of boldness and freedom. You are a letter of God’s grace and mercy! You have the full backing of the Lord, who promises to “be with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28: 20). Live the unhindered life today!

Master, help me to live the life you want—in my home, work, and neighborhood. Amen.

About the author — Reginald Smith

Dr. Reginald Smith is senior pastor at Roosevelt Park Community Christian Reformed Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he has served for seventeen years. He has also served as a pastor in Paterson, New Jersey. He and his wife, Sharon, have three daughters, Janelle, Katrina, and Mariah.

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