Fast Days: Ezra 8: Preparing a Humble & Holy Free Will Gift
“21 Then I proclaimed a fast there, at the river Ahava, that we might humble ourselves before our Lord, to seek of Him a straight way, for us, and for our little ones, and for all our substance. 22 For I was ashamed to ask of the king a band of soldiers and horsemen to help us against the enemy in the way; because we had spoken unto the king, saying: ‘The hand of our Lord is upon all them that seek Him, for good; but His power and His wrath is against all them that forsake Him.’
23 So we fasted and besought our Lord for this; and He was entreated of us.
24 Then I separated twelve of the chiefs of the priests, besides Sherebiah, Hashabiah, and ten of their brethren with them, 25 and weighed unto them the silver, and the gold, and the vessels, even the offering for the house of our God, which the king, and his counsellors, and his princes, and all Israel there present, had offered; 26 I even weighed into their hand six hundred and fifty talents of silver, and silver vessels a hundred talents; of gold a hundred talents; 27 and twenty bowels of gold, of a thousand darics; and two vessels of fine bright brass, precious as gold.
28 And I said unto them: ‘You are holy to God, and the vessels are holy; and the silver and the gold are a freewill-offering to God, the Lord of your fathers. 29 Watch, and keep them, until you weigh them before the chiefs of the priests and the Levites, and the princes of the fathers’ houses of Israel, at Jerusalem, in the chambers of the house of God.’
30 So the priests and the Levites received the weight of the silver and the gold, and the vessels, to bring them to Jerusalem unto the house of our God.”
Ezra proclaimed the fast so that the people and he could approach God with humility. Once they felt that they had achieved a powerful prayer he reminded them that they were Holy, so that they could present a holy offering to Him as an expression of their will to attach to Him.
The steps of this fast are: humility, prayer, experiencing holiness and a loving gift to God.
We are familiar with the sense of humility and the fast day prayer. Ezra taught to use the humble prayer experience to take notice of our sanctity, and to then express that sanctity with a gift to God; charity, a gift to an organization, or an extra hour of Torah study.