(19) Returning Home with Ezra, Part 3: Renewed
Ezra and the people journeying to Jerusalem carry with them the king of Persia’s treasures, earmarked for the temple. Ezra must conduct his people and the king’s riches in the safest and most expedient way. He chooses the Levite priests as the burden-bearers.
Then I set apart twelve of the chiefs of the priests, even Sherebiah, Hashabiah, and ten of their brethren with them, 25 and weighed unto them the silver, and the gold, and the vessels, even the offering for the house of our God, which the king, and his counsellors, and his princes, and all Israel there present, had offered: 26 I weighed into their hand six hundred and fifty talents of silver, and silver vessels a hundred talents; of gold a hundred talents; 27 and twenty bowls of gold, of a thousand darics; and two vessels of fine bright brass, precious as gold. – Ezra 8:24-27
They were carrying about 24 tons of silver, along with silver items that weighed approx. 3.75 tons. The gold weighed around 3.75 tons, and the 20 bowls of gold weighed about 19 pounds. The silver and gold had been melted into talents, which were large, anvil-like units of about 67-75 lbs. weight. In Persian times, they were often shaped like disks or amphoras (large vases with handles). This made them easier for the Levite workers and priests to transport.
And I said unto them, Ye are holy unto Jehovah, and the vessels are holy; and the silver and the gold are a freewill-offering unto Jehovah, the God of your fathers. 29 Watch ye, and keep them, until ye weigh them before the chiefs of the priests and the Levites, and the princes of the fathers’ houses of Israel, at Jerusalem, in the chambers of the house of Jehovah. 30 So the priests and the Levites received the weight of the silver and the gold, and the vessels, to bring them to Jerusalem unto the house of our God. – Ezra 8:28-30
These holy men took responsibility for the precious things of God’s house. As God’s treasurers, not only was it their job to transport these heavy riches, but it was their burden to guard them until they reached the temple.
A treasure is something that is valued enough to keep it and take care of it. Treasure isn’t always thought of as a burden, but it is. It requires a faithful keeper. When you embark on a relationship, you are granted a treasure. The ones in the relationship must show they value what has been granted into their care through faithfulness and trust.
Then we departed from the river Ahava on the twelfth day of the first month, to go unto Jerusalem: and the hand of our God was upon us, and he delivered us from the hand of the enemy and the lier-in-wait by the way. 32 And we came to Jerusalem, and abode there three days. – Ezra 8:31-32
Ezra gives glory to God for their safe arrival, and they deliver the treasure to the LORD’s house after recuperating from the journey. Note that the job was completed when they reached their destination.
In relationships, there are burdens or responsibilities that are carried and set down at an endpoint. For example, a parent-child relationship begins with caring for a helpless infant. As the child grows, the parent’s responsibility changes from total provision to instilling independence. Later in life, the relationship undergoes a responsibility shift, bringing the adult child to care for the parent in the last years. Carrying the burden to each one of these destinations is important for reminding each other of the value that connection brings. And the burden must be delivered. Continuing to carry what is no longer required works against the relationship.
And on the fourth day the silver and the gold and the vessels were weighed 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 was Jozabad the son of Jeshua, and Noadiah the son of Binnui, the Levites)— 34 the whole by number and by weight: and all the weight was written at that time. – Ezra 8:33-34
There is a feeling of relief that emerges from Ezra’s recording-keeping. This burden in his care was all accounted for. Nothing was lost.
The children of the captivity, that were come out of exile, offered burnt-offerings unto the God of Israel, twelve bullocks for all Israel, ninety and six rams, seventy and seven lambs, twelve he-goats for a sin-offering: all this was a burnt-offering unto Jehovah. – Ezra 8:35
The returning souls who have not had the ability to worship in Jerusalem are also all accounted for as they participate in their first sacrifices to God. Here, He fulfills His responsibility toward them, covering them in the blood of His covenant and making them His own. They join in God’s holy service, taking the responsibility to serve Him from this day forward. Haggai speaks of what it means to be owned by God when he tells Zerubbabel that God promises to make him Jehovah’s signet.
In that day, saith Jehovah of hosts, will I take thee, O Zerubbabel, my servant, the son of Shealtiel, saith Jehovah, and will make thee as a signet; for I have chosen thee, saith Jehovah of hosts. – Haggai 2:23
Living under a world empire, these people were familiar with the signets of the powerful kings who ruled them. It was an instrument that upheld the king’s authority, the king’s own display of personal ownership. Zerubbabel, the heir to the throne of David, would be God’s instrument to empower a world kingdom in the future. Zerubbabel was the bearer of a holy treasure, a pure line that would issue forth a worldwide King who would establish His Holy Kingdom forever.
And they delivered the king’s commissions unto the king’s satraps, and to the governors beyond the River: and they furthered the people and the house of God. – Ezra 8:36
The new arrivals are an encouragement. The work of God’s house will continue to flourish because this second expedition has carried out their responsibilities, delivering the king’s letters that bring in more supplies.
There is always a goal, or goals, in each relationship. One can better accept responsibility and work willingly when one knows the desired end. People in a relationship have to discuss what is expected and come to an agreement about what that work entails. When they know what the goal is, it can be met and they can be encouraged by a job well done.
Ezra and his company aren’t the ones given a holy treasure to carry to a destination. God says that His people are the “earthen vessels” who carry the most precious treasure the world has ever known (2 Corinthians 4:7). His people bear the gospel, God’s personal invitation to receive the gift of entrance into the Kingdom of His dear Son. His vessels wear Jehovah’s signet and are to display His ownership by doing His good works (2 Timothy 2:19-21). As is expected in all healthy relationships, He wants you to value this treasure and remain true to Him. At the end of the journey, He promises an incorruptible crown (1 Corinthians 9:25) and an eternal inheritance that, unlike silver and gold, can never be destroyed (1 Peter 1:4).