Read Ezra 8:1-36
Ezra chapter 8 has incredible value, and yet, many of the verses could have been left out without notice. If Ezra had not included it, most of us as readers would not have asked questions like:
- How many people of each house went with Ezra?
- Did enough Levites respond to the first appeal?
- What did Ezra and the people do prior to their departure?
- How much silver and gold did they take with them?
But, as you can tell, Ezra was an author given to detail. And that detail gives us good principles for ministry preparation today.
You see, even though Ezra had been called to an important ministry, he didn’t run right over and jump in immediately. Even before leaving Babylon, he gathered together his team. At the bank of a river, they camped for three days. While there, he was able to take inventory. It was then that he recognized they still needed Levites to serve in vital capacities. Pausing before jumping into ministry or pulling back for a time from ministry might make it possible for you to recognize missing ingredients.
Those three days at the river were also important in that they allowed the people to pray and fast. Having boasted of the protection that God would provide, now they realized their dependence on God to provide that. So they implored Him to protect them and bless their ministry. I am sure you realize it, but ministry in our own strength will fall flat on its face or at least fail to bring all the fruit that is possible when we entreat God and look to Him in total dependence.
There was yet one more thing that Ezra was able to do during that river retreat prior to departure. Delegate. Ezra carried a great responsibility . . . and more than 30 tons of precious metals and temple wares. This was more than any one individual could handle. So, there at the river, he gave responsibility to others. Once again, that is a great reminder to all who would serve Christ today. How can you include others? How can you pass along to them opportunities to serve while being freed to work in your area of greatest gifting?