"There, by the Ahava Canal, I proclaimed a fast, so that we might humble ourselves before our God and ask him for a safe journey for us and our children, with all our possessions. I was ashamed to ask the king for soldiers and horsemen to protect us from enemies on the road, because we had told the king, 'The gracious hand of our God is on everyone who looks to him, but his great anger is against all who forsake him.' So we fasted and petitioned our God about this, and he answered our prayer." NIV translation
With all of the great wealth that they were carrying to Jerusalem, Ezra was concerned that they would be robbed on the road. In the face of this concern, he declared a fast and we are reminded that this speaks of the fact that they did not eat or drink. There are many, today, who want to declare a fast from sinful things and equate this with the biblical fast but it is not. A fast is giving up something that is good to focus on God not a temporary turning from sin. He goes on to explain that they had told the king of God's provision and protection and so he was ashamed to go back and ask for an escort. Today, most lack that same shame as they will proclaim the provision and protection of God in a Sunday service but come Monday morning its every man for himself. Ezra goes on to tell us that God heard and answered their prayer. That same promise is for us if we are in Christ.
"Then I set apart twelve of the leading priests, together with Sherebiah, Hashabiah and ten of their brothers, and I weighed out to them the offering of silver and gold and the articles that the king, his advisers, his officials and all Israel present there had donated for the house of our God. I weighed out to them 650 talents of silver, silver articles weighing 100 talents, 100 talents of gold, 20 bowls of gold valued at 1,000 darics, and two fine articles of polished bronze, as precious as gold." NIV translation
After prayer, Ezra took action and twenty four priests and temple servants were to carry the valuables for the temple.
We are reminded that the number twelve is associated with divine authority and these men were trusting God to protect them and the treasure on the way to Jerusalem.
"I said to them, 'You as well as these articles are consecrated to the Lord. The silver and gold are a freewill offering to the Lord, the God of your fathers. Guard them carefully until you weigh them out in the chambers of the house of the Lord in Jerusalem before the leading priests and the Levites and the family heads of Israel.' Then the priests and Levites received the silver and gold and sacred articles that had been weighed out to be taken to the house of our God in Jerusalem." NIV translation
Ezra gave the men their commission and reminded them that they were set aside for the use of God (consecrated). This was a reminder to them that God would take care of them on their journey. This same principle applies to us, if we are in Christ. The Holy Spirit consecrates us and we can trust that, since we are His, he will take care of us on our journey through this life and for eternity.
"On the twelfth day of the first month we set out from the Ahava Canal to go to Jerusalem. The hand of our God was on us, and he protected us from enemies and bandits along the way. So we arrived in Jerusalem, where we rested three days." NIV translation
What an uneventful trip but it is good to see that God takes care of His people. They made it to Jerusalem and rested. Like Ezra, when we pray and do what God shows us, we can trust Him and move out in safety.