We are now to attend Ezra to Jerusalem, a journey of about four months in all; but his multitude made his marches slow and his stages short. Now here we are told,
I. That his God was good, and he acknowledged his goodness: The hand of our God was upon us, to animate us for our undertaking. To him they owed it, 1. That they were preserved in their journey, and not all cut off; for there were enemies that laid wait for them by the way to do them a mischief, or at least, like Amalek, to smite the hindmost of them, but God protected them, Ezra 8:31. Even the common perils of journeys are such as oblige us to sanctify our going out with prayer and our returns in peace with praise and thanksgiving; much more ought God to be thus eyed in such a dangerous expedition as this was. 2. That they were brought in safety to their journey’s end, Ezra 8:32. Let those that have stedfastly set their faces towards the new Jerusalem proceed and persevere to the end till they appear before God in Zion, and they shall find that he who has begun the good work will perform it.
II. That his treasurers were faithful. When they had come to Jerusalem they were impatient to be discharged of their trust, and therefore applied to the great men of the temple, who received it from them and gave them an acquittance in full, Ezra 8:33, 34. It is a great ease to one’s mind to be discharged from a trust, and a great honour to one’s name to be able to make it appear that it has been faithfully discharged.
III. That his companions were devout. As soon as they came to be near the altar they thought themselves obliged to offer sacrifice, whatever they had done in Babylon, Ezra 8:35. That will be dispensed with when we want opportunity which when the door is opened again will be expected from us. It is observable, 1. That among their sacrifices they had a sin-offering; for it is the atonement that sweetens and secures every mercy to us, which will not be truly comfortable unless iniquity be taken away and our peace made with God. 2. That the number of their offerings related to the number of the tribes, twelve bullocks, twelve he-goats, and ninety-six rams (that is, eight times twelve), intimating the union of the two kingdoms, according to what was foretold, Ezek. 37:22. They did not any longer go two tribes one way and ten another, but all the twelve met by their representatives at the same altar.
IV. That even the enemies of the Jews became their friends, bowed to Ezra’s commission, and, instead of hindering the people of God, furthered them (Ezra 8:36), purely in complaisance to the king: when he appeared moderate they all coveted to appear so too. Then had the churches rest.