Have you ever read the book of Ezra? It’s not exactly a best seller of the books of the Bible. It doesn’t seem to get much air time. And the first time I read it, I was a bit dismayed.
It’s mostly historical and I didn’t find Ezra to be an exceptionally impressive character. (I have since discovered that his story really climaxes in Nehemiah.) I mean, yes, as people go, he was extremely devout both to God and his people. He was highly favored by God, which suggests that he was a pretty impressive person. But up against David, Elijah, Moses, Ruth and Esther, well, he didn’t stand out to me. But I knew it must have been included in the Bible for more than just historical significance, so I read it again. This time I not only chose a different translation, I also sat down prayerfully before I started reading. I asked the Father to lead me to read through the spirit instead of relying on my own mind. (Something I have learned to do every time I read the Word of God.)
I didn’t even make it to Ezra’s appearance. For those who aren’t familiar with the book, Ezra isn’t even mentioned in the first half of the book. It’s all about the children of Israel trusting in God and rebuilding the temple. There are lots of names and numbers and it’s so easy to be put off by the lists and lineage we often find in the Bible. But look past the names you might have trouble pronouncing and get to the guts. The guts that tell us loud and clear that if we put our faith in God, he will move.
When my husband was pursuing his Master’s degree, he applied for in-state tuition in his second year. We had most definitely relocated to North Carolina. It was our home. And in-state tuition would save us thousands of dollars! He had to submit a slew of paperwork and then go up against a board of individuals. They questioned, they doubted, they pretty much told him that he wasn’t going to be granted in-state tuition. Some loophole they were trying to employ. And as he’s telling me about his disappointment, a word I heard from Pastor Coyne at Harvest World Outreach Church in Greensboro, North Carolina came to me. He preached on having favor with authority – all authority.
As children of God, we are favored. Sometimes it doesn’t seem that way. Sometimes it might even seem like you have it harder than your friend or co-worker that isn’t saved. And, honestly, sometimes you will. Being “blessed and highly favored” doesn’t mean your life will be easy. Ask any woman who’s ever given birth and they’ll tell you that it wasn’t easy or comfortable, but it was still a blessing. And you, child of God, are favored.
This teaching was on receiving favor from authority – even ungodly authority. That is, those in positions of authority over you that don’t worship your God. In Ezra we see that realized. Cyrus, king of Persia, decreed that the Jewish people were to rebuild the temple. And then, and I love this, “…everyone whose heart God had moved prepared to go up and build the house of the Lord…” (1:5). But the Jewish people have always had a hard time because they’re favored and nobody likes to see someone being favored over themselves. Their favor has garnered them many enemies throughout history. In this case, the local people sought to end their endeavor. And they succeeded – for a while.
We have to remember to continually persevere in our pursuit of Christ. Through all the terrain, all the seasons, and all the trials that come our way. King Darius favored the Jewish people and allowed them to continue rebuilding the temple. Not only that, but he supplied them with financial support and protection against any adversaries.
When my husband came home from his meeting with the board, we prayed. We declared that we had favor with all authority over us through the power of the Holy Spirit in the name of Jesus Christ. And the next week, they overturned their decision and granted him in-state tuition.
Now, I’m not going to promise that if you pray then your boss is going to give you that promotion tomorrow. I am going to remind you to refuse to be afraid of any person that stands against you. If you know you are in the will of God, no man can stand against you. God has given us authority here on earth. Dominion.
Photo Credit: David Spinks