Then the time of departure has come. There is no detailed account of the journey of about four months. On that journey Ezra and the ones who went with him have often been in danger. We hear nothing more about this. Ezra describes no heroic deeds and no fears. He honors God and summarizes the journey in such a way that the company is protected under the “hand of our God” who delivered them from “the hand of the enemy and the ambushes by the way” (verse 3131Then we journeyed from the river Ahava on the twelfth of the first month to go to Jerusalem; and the hand of our God was over us, and He delivered us from the hand of the enemy and the ambushes by the way.). He left with prayer. He arrived in peace with thankfulness, for God delivered them and brought them safely to Jerusalem.
God is for us what we expect of Him. Too often we limit Him, because we think so little of Him. He is “able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think” (Eph 3:2020Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us,). This is the infinite source of faith.
When they have arrived in Jerusalem, they first come to rest and reflect for three days. Again there are three days (verse 3232Thus we came to Jerusalem and remained there three days.; verse 1515Now I assembled them at the river that runs to Ahava, where we camped for three days; and when I observed the people and the priests, I did not find any Levites there.). For us this means that everything is again considered in the light of the death and resurrection of Christ. There is also talk of “the fourth day” (verse 3333On the fourth day the silver and the gold and the utensils were weighed out in the house of our God into the hand of Meremoth the son of Uriah the priest, and with him [was] Eleazar the son of Phinehas; and with them [were] the Levites, Jozabad the son of Jeshua and Noadiah the son of Binnui.). On the fourth day the reckoning takes place in front of four men. Four is the number of the earth, of the walk on earth. Of all that has been entrusted to us and how we have dealt with it on earth, we will have to account for before the judgment seat of Christ (2Cor 5:1010For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.; cf. Mt 25:14-3014“For [it is] just like a man [about] to go on a journey, who called his own slaves and entrusted his possessions to them.15To one he gave five talents, to another, two, and to another, one, each according to his own ability; and he went on his journey.16Immediately the one who had received the five talents went and traded with them, and gained five more talents.17In the same manner the one who [had received] the two [talents] gained two more.18But he who received the one [talent] went away, and dug [a hole] in the ground and hid his master’s money.19“Now after a long time the master of those slaves *came and *settled accounts with them.20The one who had received the five talents came up and brought five more talents, saying, ‘Master, you entrusted five talents to me. See, I have gained five more talents.’21His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’22“Also the one who [had received] the two talents came up and said, ‘Master, you entrusted two talents to me. See, I have gained two more talents.’23His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’24“And the one also who had received the one talent came up and said, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow and gathering where you scattered no [seed].25And I was afraid, and went away and hid your talent in the ground. See, you have what is yours.’26“But his master answered and said to him, ‘You wicked, lazy slave, you knew that I reap where I did not sow and gather where I scattered no [seed].27Then you ought to have put my money in the bank, and on my arrival I would have received my [money] back with interest.28Therefore take away the talent from him, and give it to the one who has the ten talents.’29“For to everyone who has, [more] shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but from the one who does not have, even what he does have shall be taken away.30Throw out the worthless slave into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.).
Everything is checked according to number and weight (verse 3434Everything [was] numbered and weighed, and all the weight was recorded at that time.). Faithful servants of God will take great care that not one part of the precious truth is lost or weighed down. In Christianity, more and more truths are no longer proclaimed, and more and more truths lose weight, i.e. importance. Some truths have been abandoned because they are no longer of our time. Other truths are deprived of their power by giving them another meaning. Often there are still the form and the words, but their true spiritual weight is no longer on the hearts.
After the delivery of all treasures, the people bring burnt offerings to the LORD (verse 3535The exiles who had come from the captivity offered burnt offerings to the God of Israel: 12 bulls for all Israel, 96 rams, 77 lambs, 12 male goats for a sin offering, all as a burnt offering to the LORD.). The remnant that has just returned becomes a people of worshipers. In bringing the offerings they also give thanks to God for His preservation during the journey.
As with the dedication of God’s house (Ezra 6:1717They offered for the dedication of this temple of God 100 bulls, 200 rams, 400 lambs, and as a sin offering for all Israel 12 male goats, corresponding to the number of the tribes of Israel.), the weak remnant sees “all Israel” represented there. We also see this thought in the recurring number twelve or a multiple thereof. It means that all those who stayed behind in Babylon are also involved in the burnt offering. A constant remembrance of the whole people of God saves us from sectarian thinking and acting.
Only after they have introduced themselves to God on the basis of their sacrifices do they go to the king’s servants (verse 3636Then they delivered the king’s edicts to the king’s satraps and to the governors [in the provinces] beyond the River, and they supported the people and the house of God.). God always has the first rights and must first be given what is due to Him. Then it is the turn of others. They deliver the king’s edicts to the king’s satraps and to the governors. The king’s officers act according to what the king has commanded them (Ezra 7:21-2421“I, even I, King Artaxerxes, issue a decree to all the treasurers who are [in the provinces] beyond the River, that whatever Ezra the priest, the scribe of the law of the God of heaven, may require of you, it shall be done diligently,22[even] up to 100 talents of silver, 100 kors of wheat, 100 baths of wine, 100 baths of oil, and salt as needed.23Whatever is commanded by the God of heaven, let it be done with zeal for the house of the God of heaven, so that there will not be wrath against the kingdom of the king and his sons.24We also inform you that it is not allowed to impose tax, tribute or toll [on] any of the priests, Levites, singers, doorkeepers, Nethinim or servants of this house of God.) and “support the people and the house of God”. Ezra thus fulfills the purpose of the enterprise. What he does in the two following chapters is not a goal of his journey, but a consequence of his main goal.