Today's post was written by Brook Hills member, Vickie Margene.

Ezra has never been on my short list of preferred books of the Bible and definitely not on my theoretical list of New Year's resolutions. (Quite frankly, I gave up that practice years ago due to a severe lack of measurable success.) And I've read Ezra at least three times now, if my reading through the Bible plans held firm, which I believe they did. However, this is the first time I really seem to have connected with it. Several times this past week, I noticed variations of that key phrase "the hand of God was upon him," and I considered what that must be like.

Ezra is a history book, taking us into captivity with God's rebellious people, but revealing how he worked to bring them back to Jerusalem, back to the temple, and back to himself. Perhaps the first step was the most amazing, for God intervened in the heart and mind of Cyrus of Persia, suggesting that a wise leader would not disregard the god of a deeply religious people living among his own, especially not a god like Jehovah. So he ordered men to return to Jerusalem and start the process which would re-institute the worship of the One True God. Therefore, the task Ezra undertook was a great one, and there was opposition. But the good hand of his God was upon him, and he headed for Jerusalem, unprotected by the resources of Cyrus and loaded with the riches needed to rebuild the temple. That good hand protected them along the journey, equipped them for the task, and enlightened them in their desire to follow God's leading.

And we - also strangers living separated from our heavenly home - find ourselves subject to God-ordained leadership which may not truly know our faith. But we too must be confident that the good hand of our God is upon us and upon those leaders. We, therefore, enjoy his protection, his strength, and his enlightenment. Like Ezra but in our own time, we are called to build God's church, steward His resources, and to reach out for a people who will know God, study His Word, and live as His Son lived, even in the face of opposition, but always under the good hand of our God.