In the Bible, the hand of God is often used to explain His awesome and total power and control of the universe.
In the Old Testament we see God raising his hand to destroy. Jeremiah was a prophet who was sent by God to tell the people of Judah that their commitment to God wasn’t real or deep enough. For forty years the people ignored him, laughed at him, and tried to kill him. They didn’t want to hear what God was telling them—if they didn’t change their ways God was going to punish them.
Toward the end of Jeremiah’s life, all hell literally broke loose in Judah. Jeremiah wrote the book of Lamentations as he walked through the rubble and destruction of his country. One of the most horrendous things that Jeremiah shares was the fact that women were killing their babies and eating them to survive.
After years of God pouring out His love and patience on these people they refused to get serious about their relationship with God and they suffered the horrible and gruesome consequences. For 250 years God had sent man after man to tell the people to change and be sincere and righteous toward God and others, but the people were stubborn and proud and refused to listen and obey.
Now, an important thing to realize, it wasn’t God that destroyed the people. It was their choice to be wicked, stubborn, and rebellious. Their refusal to repent destroyed them. If they would have obeyed God, destruction would never have come.
Jeremiah 5:23-25 says, “But my people have stubborn and rebellious hearts. They have turned against me and have CHOSEN to practice idolatry. They do not say from the heart, 'Let us live in awe of the Lord our God, for he gives us rain each spring and fall, assuring us of plentiful harvests.' Your wickedness has deprived you of these wonderful blessings. Your sin has robbed you of all these good things.”
Ezra lived after Jeremiah. Jeremiah became a prophet in 627 B.C., Jerusalem was destroyed in 586 B.C. The Babylonians took the survivors into captivity and Ezra was born while in captivity. He came back to Jerusalem in 458 B.C. to rebuild the temple. To make a long story short—after God’s warnings God acted. He raised his hand in anger and Judah was destroyed. God disciplined the people by allowing them to be defeated and taken into captivity by the Babylonians. Jeremiah also prophesied that because the Babylonians were so violent, they too would be destroyed. The Persians whipped the Babylonians. Ezra was a captive in Babylon and to return to Jerusalem he got permission from the king of Persia.
The story of Ezra leaving Babylon and journeying to Jerusalem is told in the seventh through the ninth chapters of Ezra. Several times in the short book of Ezra, the phrase “the good hand of the Lord was on us” is used. In Ezra 7:6, “the king had granted him (Ezra) everything he asked, for the hand of the Lord his God was on him.” Ezra’s journey to Jerusalem took four months, “because the good hand of his God was on him.” (7:9) Ezra’s trip was safe because “the hand of our God was upon us and He protected us along the way." (8:3)
“Praise be to the Lord, the God of our fathers, who has put it into the king’s heart to bring honor to the house of the Lord in Jerusalem in this way and who has extended his good favor to me before the king and his advisers and all the king’s powerful officials. Because the hand of the Lord my God was on me, I took courage and gathered leading men from Israel to go up with me.” (Ezra 7:27)
After the destruction of Jerusalem the people repented of their sin. As they lived in captivity, Ezra grew up listening to these people tell of the wrath of God. Ezra took God serious—He had devoted himself to the study and observance of the Laws of God. Ezra knew that when things went well in his life, it was because “the good hand of the Lord was upon him.”
This story is written to tell the readers what God has done in the past. We aren’t told if God will once again destroy his people for having innumerable excuses for not obeying Him. But the Bible does tell us that God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. So we do know that God hates sin as badly today as he did in 586 B.C. God doesn’t want to harshly discipline his children. God wants to treat all of his children as he did Ezra. He wants to put his good hand upon us to bring us protection, favor, courage, and success. God still gives people the free will to choose—will you have the good hand of the Lord upon you or will you choose to have God’s hand against you?
"The good hand of our God is on everyone who looks to HIM, but
HIS great anger is against all who forsake HIM."
GETTING TO KNOW GOD