“Ezra.” If you’re familiar with the Old Testament of the Bible, you remember the name. “Shecaniah”? Probably not. But here’s something we all need to understand: the “Ezras” of the world desperately need the “Shecaniahs.”
In Ezra 10, after rebuilding the temple, restoring the Passover, and contending with a wide variety of adversaries, Ezra was worn out and discouraged. The people were distracted and dangerously close to slipping into the old patterns of behavior that had led to the exile of their forefathers. And Ezra had reached the end of his rope.
While Ezra prayed and made confession, weeping and casting himself down before the house of God, a very great assembly of men, women, and children gathered to him out of Israel, for the people wept bitterly. And Shecaniah the son of Jehiel, of the sons of Elam, addressed Ezra: “We have broken faith with our God and have married foreign women from the peoples of the land, but even now there is hope for Israel in spite of this. Therefore let us make a covenant with our God to put away all these wives and their children, according to the counsel of my lord and of those who tremble at the commandment of our God, and let it be done according to the Law. Arise, for it is your task, and we are with you; be strong and do it.” (10:1-4)
Ezra has a book of the Bible named after him. Shecaniah doesn’t. Ezra was known by Artaxerxes, king of Persia. Shecaniah wasn’t. Ezra is remembered for standing before a great assembly of people, reading the Book of the Law of Moses for hours, and leading a multitude to repentance and restoration. Shecaniah isn’t. But Ezra 10 documents a dark day. A deep valley. Ezra was bitterly weeping, with tear-streamed face to the ground. And Shecaniah was there to help.
Shecaniah was honest about the current predicament. He didn’t gloss over the mess. He didn’t downplay the seriousness of the situation. He didn’t point fingers. He didn’t cast the blame as far away from himself as he could. Notice the pronouns. “We have broken faith with our God.”
He shared the gift of optimism and perspective with Ezra. “Even now there is hope.”
He challenged Ezra. “Arise.”
He reminded Ezra. “It is your task.”
He strengthened Ezra with the blessing of fellowship. “We are with you.”
He inspired Ezra. “Be strong and do it.”
Then Ezra arose and Israel was motivated to take the next right step.
Your name might not be known by the masses. Your reputation may not open the doors of power. Your biography probably won’t be written. But you can make a real difference today by following in Shecaniah’s footsteps. Just look around. Who is worn out? Spent in the service of others? Maybe a little discouraged? Close to the end of their rope?
How could you serve as a refreshment to their souls?
Optimism. Perspective. Encouragement. A reminder. Strength. Fellowship. Inspiration. Those are the gifts Shecaniah gave on that tough day in Ezra 10.
In a darkened world full of discouragement, self-centeredness, and pessimism, be a Shecaniah this week.