1. Application

The LORD protects and provides for His people

Ezra 8:1–36 (ESV)

1 These are the heads of their fathers’ houses, and this is the genealogy of those who went up with me from Babylonia, in the reign of Artaxerxes the king:

In the New Testament, the journey from exile to the Promised Land is often used as an example of the life of the believer. 1 Peter 1:1–9 is written to exiles who are looking forward to an inheritance that does not fade or spoil. Hebrews 4:1–16 compares the rest given by Joshua to a heavenly rest that Christians are waiting to enter. Hebrews 11:9–13 emphasizes that the patriarchs were looking forward to a heavenly city. Likewise, the apostle Paul testifies that his life is a journey in which the Lord protects him in order to bring him safely into his heavenly kingdom (2 Timothy 4:18). The land of promise to which he was looking forward, the inheritance that awaits us, is not a corner of this world, but life in the world to come, life in the new heavens and the new earth.

As we journey through this world, the dangers we face as Christians certainly include the everyday problems of safety and security. The anxiety and stress that come from living in a fallen world is common to all of us. God has not promised to deliver us from these troubles in this life, but by his Spirit he has promised to comfort us when we suffer (2 Corinthians 1:3–7). Yet along with these troubles, we also find ourselves at war with the devil, the world, and our own flesh, the enemies who seek to destroy our lives. Everyday the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8); he wants to make our lives miserable so that we will curse God and abandon our faith (e.g., Job 2:9). The world around us likewise encourages us day by day to forsake the promises of the gospel and live our best life now. Look for joy, comfort, and pleasure in the things of this world, for what’s the point in trusting the Lord if it means risk and suffering? And our flesh, our sinful desires, they are an ever-present reality; morning and evening we struggle to say no to sin and follow Christ. The day has hardly begun before we act selfishly at the breakfast table or shout at someone because we’re stressed out and late for work.

The Christian life is a challenge. Yes, we are equipped and encouraged when we listen to faithful Bible teaching, but that doesn’t make it easy to put teaching into practice. Denying yourself and following Jesus Christ is costly and difficult (Mark 8:31–38). Graciously, however, our Lord has promised to protect us and provide for us on this journey. He has promised that if he began a good work in us he will bring it to completion (Philippians 1:6). He’s promised to give us our daily bread (Matthew 6:25–34), to protect us from the evil one (Matthew 6:13). By his Spirit, God will keep us persevering in the Christian life; he will bring us safely to his heavenly kingdom, to an inheritance that does not fade or spoil.