Ezra and Nehemiah stand out as examples of faithfulness, courage and integrity.
They both have cultivated a good relationship with King Artaxerxes while at the same time maintaining a vibrant faith. Nehemiah serves the king with respect and honor while also having a steadfast zeal for the people of God and their land.
In Nehemiah 1, he is told of the desolate conditions of Jerusalem. He immediately sits down and weeps. This affectionate and zealous response couldn’t be possible unless Nehemiah had been carefully guarding his faith and praying consistently for the restoration of God’s people.
He could’ve stopped at praying. He had an important position with the king. But he went above and beyond expectations. He requested to go back and help the remnant of his people.
He didn’t have to do this, but his love for God and God’s people compelled him.
Similarly, Ezra maintained faith during his exile. Not only that, he became well-versed in the Law of God. He was a priest of God who kept his identity and understood what he needed to do when God called him.
He also went with courage to Jerusalem. God’s hand of favor was upon him and when he arrived we also see his zeal. Because he was steeped in the law of God he was appalled at the unfaithfulness of God’s people in marrying foreign women. He quickly acts as intercessor for them and calls them to repent.
Both these men showed tremendous leadership, zeal and integrity. God surely prepared them while they were in exile to be ready when he called them.
We also are exiles.
“Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.” 1 Peter 2:11-12