Ezra 9:1-15 (6 & 15)
What is penance? It is an act of self-abasement, mortification or devotion performed to show sorrow. What is repentance? It is to turn from sin and dedicate oneself, to feel regret or contrition. What is confession? It is a disclosure of one's sins in sacrament of reconciliation, acknowledgement of guilt. Can we pay for our sins?
Ezra prays before the people regarding their disobedience to God by intermarriage with heathens. Previously, Israelite men had been marrying heathen women (Judges 3:5-7). King Solomon had also been guilty of heathen marriage (1 Kings 11:1-8).
In verses 1-4:
This passage of scripture tells who had sinned, not just the common people but the appointed leaders as well. Bear in mind, our leadership privilege, or position, increases our responsibility to others. Although this passage of Scripture is speaking of an intermarriage issue, this was not a racial issue but a spiritual one. Intermarriage led the Jews to adopt heathen practices; immorality and idolatry were now common. People should be spiritually bonded together in order to have an effective and meaningful relationship.
A few Israelites had married pagan mates and forgotten about God’s purpose for them. Such relationships cannot have harmony with devotion and compliance to God. Faith may turn into an issue and one companion may need to concede convictions for the purpose of solidarity. Numerous individuals lament this activity later. We should try not to permit passion or emotion to dazzle us to the significance of wedding somebody whom we share spiritual convictions with.
Ezra became heavyhearted with what the people had allowed to happen. He was shocked at the transgression of the people. He could have delivered a great speech or formed a committee, but instead he prayed (Exodus 34:11-16, Deuteronomy 7:1-4).
In verses 5-15:
After hearing of the people’s transgressions, Ezra prayed. He could have said “their iniquities,” but he instead he said, “our iniquities.” Ezra included himself in the prayer, and he recognized that that sin is serious, that no one person sins without affecting others, and that he was not sinless, even though he had not intermarried.
The sins of the people were confessed in Ezra’s prayer. Despite the fact that he had not trespassed in the manner that his kin had, he related to their transgressions. He communicated disgrace for the wrongdoing, dread of the outcomes, and the craving for the individuals to wake up and atone. The people cried after hearing his prayer. Ezra showed the requirement for a community to be holy around the revamped sanctuary. God’s love and mercy had spared the nation although they had not deserved it. In addition, if God had given the justice the people deserved, they could not stand. (Psalm 106:45; Ezekiel 11:16; Nehemiah 9:33-34; Psalm 130:3; Daniel 9:7-11)
Our local churches need a holy community and if we sin, we must turn to God in repentance through prayer. We are to live a separate life from what the world views of living.
There are numerous stories throughout the Bible that show what Israel had to suffer because of their sin, their failure to follow God with all of their heart. God has been consummately loving and patient towards Israel as He is with us today. However, we should not befuddle God’s patience with His approval. We should be careful with calling out our own way because we may eventually get what we want, but with its painful repercussions.
Ezra 7:6-10, 27-28
Ezra was one of three key leaders during the return of the Jewish nation from Babylonian captivity. Zerubbabel was the first to encourage rebuilding of the Temple. Nehemiah was involved with rebuilding of the walls. Ezra was key to restoring the people to worship God. Chapters 1-6 describe the first return and the rebuilding of the temple. Chapters 7-10 contain Ezra's return to Jerusalem, his ministry, and the confrontation of the people.
Ibis was Ezra's first trip, eighty years after the initial exiles returned to Jerusalem and it took four months to complete (Ezra 2:1). Ezra had to ask permission from the king so he could return to Jerusalem. He wanted to guide many of the Jewish people back to Jerusalem and he needed a directive or decree, from the king stating that if any Jew wanted to return to Jerusalem they could do so. This decree would an official government document, be like a passport, just in case of any hostility during their travels.
This official document displayed God's blessing on Ezra (Ezra 7:6, 28). It is apparent that Ezra had held a distinguished position and gave up that role to return to Jerusalem to teach God's laws to the Israelites. His action shows us how God's people can be put into action by a Bible teacher. He was well educated in the laws of God, and he made it a goal to obey those laws, which in turn made him an effective teacher. Not only was his speaking effective but his actions as well.
We should strive to study and obey God's Word as Ezra did:
Three things happened before Ezra's mission began:
We can see that Ezra:
Ezra gave thanks to God for everything He had done for him and through him. God chose to honor Ezra because he had honored God throughout his life. Ezra could have assumed that the king and his princes were won over by his own charisma and grandeur, but he gave God the credit. We should also be thankful to God for our accomplishments and reject the idea that we achieved them on our own.
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