“You and these treasures have been set apart as holy to the Lord.” Ezra 8:28
Some responsibilities seem too weighty to carry and are therefore destined for failure. Imagine the daunting nature of Ezra’s task.
King Artaxerxes had returned all of the valuables King Nebuchadnezzar had taken when he conquered Israel. Thousands of pounds of gold, silver, and other precious items were entrusted to Ezra to carry back to the rebuilt Temple in Jerusalem. Ezra did not have an armed escort to protect him and the treasure from almost certain danger. Most caravans during that time were vulnerable to bandits. If word leaked out about the wealth being carted to Jerusalem, the travelers would be doomed.
Ezra called twelve priests and charged them with the safe delivery of the Temple treasure. We don’t know whether they had the option of refusing such a burden, but their service was seen as a special offering to God.
As difficult as it is to fathom the enormous worth of this treasure, both in monetary value and as invaluable pieces designed for the worship of the Lord, Scripture assures us there is another treasure of even greater worth. God calls his people his treasure: “The Lord has declared today that you are his people, his own special treasure” (Deut 26:18). And in Matthew 18, Jesus speaks of God the Father giving special attention to the needs of “little ones” (18:10).
The phrase refers to children, but it also includes everyone who might be categorized as one of the “least of these” (Matt 25:40). The chronically ill, disabled, mentally ill, all those who are unable to care for themselves or provide for their own needs—God especially treasures these.
And just as Ezra entrusted the treasure to the priests, God has given us the responsibility to care for those he considers his special treasure. Whether we have been charged with the care of a dying infant for six months, a sibling with a brain injury, or simply being a friend to someone with a disability, every believer has a part to play. Though we may experience fear and feel the risks to be greater than we can manage, we can take comfort in knowing that God is protecting us and will save all of his treasured people.