On the whole, today the Lord’s full thought and conception is not the general thing found among His people. The testimony of the Lord has largely broken down, and the great multitude called by His Name are governed and manipulated and controlled by something that is religiously of the earth and not of the heavens, of man and not of the Holy Spirit; and there needs to be seen the impossibility of accepting that state of things.
It is one thing to recognize that and quite another thing to be in relation with the Lord’s movement to recover for Himself that which is according to His mind. One can be occupied all the time with the bad state of things, bemoan it, make people feel miserable, and yet never get anywhere. Ezra opens with the sovereign activity of God (chapter 1:1). God acts not only from the outside, not only sovereignly, but there is something that precedes it, that makes possible His activity, that brings in the sovereignty of God.
All these who represent His vessel for dealing with the situation were men who had a great burden about the situation, and they are no use to God in a situation like that unless in the burden of it.
We see Ezra latterly spreading himself out before God in such a way that the people gathered round to see him, and when they saw his desperate concern over the state of things, they were so tremendously moved that no sooner had he finished praying than they came to him and sought to have things put right. So we see Ezra away in Jerusalem with a great burden for the Lord’s testimony.
Nehemiah, away in Babylon, is seen to have a similar burden. For, having asked Hanani and his friends as to their welfare in Jerusalem, and hearing from them a report that was not good, this so burdened him that his countenance became changed, and he, knowing his life was at stake, went before the king with a sad face ― for it was criminal to go before the king with a sad countenance ― yet he could not help himself for sorrow of heart over the Lord’s interests and testimony, concerning the people called by His Name.
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