God forgives those who repent.
If we neglect spiritual vigilance and right living, we fall into spiritual and moral decline. This is what happened to the post-captivity Jews in Judah, with the passing of 80 years after the Captivity. When Ezra arrived in Jerusalem in 457 BC, he found that many of the men of Judah had married idolatrous Gentile women. This was a symptom of a lax spirituality and posed a serious danger to the future well-being of the Jews. If they intermingled with Gentiles and became idolatrous, they would again be judged by God and lose all they had regained after the Captivity. For us, this is a lesson about the need for repentance and spiritual renewal.
1Jn 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to
2Co 6:14 Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?
……Mama always told me, “son, you are who you hang out with.” How true that statement became and still rings true today.
Pro 8:13 The fear of the LORD is to hate evil: pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate.
Why do you think people backslide from their commitment to living for God?
Why are repentance and spiritual renewal necessary when backsliding occurs?
EZRA RESPONDS TO ISRAEL’S UNFAITHFULNESS
A. Sorrow for Sin Demonstrated
Ezr 9:1 Now when these things were done, the princes came to me, saying, The people of Israel, and the priests, and the Levites, have not separated themselves from the people of the lands, doing according to their abominations, even of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Jebusites, the Ammonites, the Moabites, the Egyptians, and the Amorites.
Ezr 9:2 For they have taken of their daughters for themselves, and for their sons: so that the holy seed have mingled themselves with the people of those lands: yea, the hand of the princes and rulers hath been chief in this trespass.
…….The soul duty of the priests and Levites were to provide spiritual leadership for the Jews, in this case many did not.
Jas 3:1 My brethren, be not many masters (instructors, teachers), knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation.
Ezr 9:3 And when I heard this thing, I rent my garment and my mantle, and plucked off the hair of my head and of my beard, and sat down astonied.
Ezr 9:4 Then were assembled unto me every one that trembled at the words of the God of Israel, because of the transgression of those that had been carried away; and I sat astonied until the evening sacrifice.
Ezr 9:5 And at the evening sacrifice I arose up from my heaviness; and having rent my garment and my mantle, I fell upon my knees, and spread out my hands unto the LORD my God,
…….The immediate response of God’s prophet was shame, remorse and anguish. If there is one thing the church (as a whole) has become comfortable in living without, this is it. The Lord finds rest with people who are ashamed of and refuses sin and rebellion.
B. Prayer of Confession for Sins
Ezr 9:6 And said, O my God, I am ashamed and blush to lift up my face to thee, my God: for our iniquities are increased over our head, and our trespass is grown up unto the heavens.
Ezr 9:7 Since the days of our fathers have we been in a great trespass unto this day; and for our iniquities have we, our kings, and our priests, been delivered into the hand of the kings of the lands, to the sword, to captivity, and to a spoil, and to confusion of face, as it is this day.
Ezr 9:8 And now for a little space grace hath been shewed from the LORD our God, to leave us a remnant to escape, and to give us a nail in his holy place, that our God may lighten our eyes, and give us a little reviving in our bondage.
Ezr 9:9 For we were bondmen; yet our God hath not forsaken us in our bondage, but hath extended mercy unto us in the sight of the kings of Persia, to give us a reviving, to set up the house of our God, and to repair the desolations thereof, and to give us a wall in Judah and in Jerusalem.
Ezr 9:10 And now, O our God, what shall we say after this? for we have forsaken thy commandments,
Ezr 9:11 Which thou hast commanded by thy servants the prophets, saying, The land, unto which ye go to possess it, is an unclean land with the filthiness of the people of the lands, with their abominations, which have filled it from one end to another with their uncleanness.
…….Ezra reflects directly on the failures of the past and how God had mercy on Judah before. Not only is it important to remember all the blessings bestowed on our lives, but to also remember the punishment that always comes from rebellion.
Ezr 9:12 Now therefore give not your daughters unto their sons, neither take their daughters unto your sons, nor seek their peace or their wealth for ever: that ye may be strong, and eat the good of the land, and leave it for an inheritance to your children for ever.
Ezr 9:13 And after all that is come upon us for our evil deeds, and for our great trespass, seeing that thou our God hast punished us less than our iniquities deserve, and hast given us such deliverance as this;
Ezr 9:14 Should we again break thy commandments, and join in affinity with the people of these abominations? wouldest not thou be angry with us till thou hadst consumed us, so that there should be no remnant nor escaping?
Ezr 9:15 O LORD God of Israel, thou art righteous: for we remain yet escaped, as it is this day: behold, we are before thee in our trespasses: for we cannot stand before thee because of this.
…….The first step of repentance is honestly opening up in broken humility by admitting present sin.
2Cor 7:10 For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.
LAMENTING AND COVENANT MAKING
A. Response to Earnest Prayer
Ezr 10:1 Now when Ezra had prayed, and when he had confessed, weeping and casting himself down before the house of God, there assembled unto him out of Israel a very great congregation of men and women and children: for the people wept very sore.
…….Ezra as governor displayed the perfect scene of repentance by an open confession of the for the entire city. His brokenness was so effective that others who were guilty were compelled and convicted as well.
…….While you may not be the leader of a great number of people, you are a leader somewhere. The contrition of your prayers will lead to a life of example that compels and changes those around you.
Ezr 10:2 And Shechaniah the son of Jehiel, one of the sons of Elam, answered and said unto Ezra, We have trespassed against our God, and have taken strange wives of the people of the land: yet now there is hope in Israel concerning this thing.
B. Solution to Sin Problem Accepted
Ezr 10:3 Now therefore let us make a covenant with our God to put away all the wives, and such as are born of them, according to the counsel of my lord, and of those that tremble at the commandment of our God; and let it be done according to the law.
…….Many times when confession is made, it is helpful for the confessor to make a Covenant (promise) to the Lord. Our covenants are important, not that they do anything for God, but simply to remind, and prevent us to never again return to the sin.
…….Our covenants May be a separation from relationships or things that cause us to fail. Anything that brings a wedge between man and His relationship with God must be divided.
Heb 12:1 Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,
Ezr 10:4 Arise; for this matter belongeth unto thee: we also will be with thee: be of good courage, and do it.
Ezr 10:5 Then arose Ezra, and made the chief priests, the Levites, and all Israel, to swear that they should do according to this word. And they sware.
…….When the leader of any organization steps up to do the right thing, it is the duty of the congregation to take side with God’s man, regardless of others opinions.
While you may not see immediate results, the Lord will honor you for simply doing what is right.
CONFESSION AND SEPARATION
A. Confession and Repentance Commanded
Ezr 10:6 Then Ezra rose up from before the house of God, and went into the chamber of Johanan the son of Eliashib: and when he came thither, he did eat no bread, nor drink water: for he mourned because of the transgression of them that had been carried away.
Ezr 10:7 And they made proclamation throughout Judah and Jerusalem unto all the children of the captivity, that they should gather themselves together unto Jerusalem;
Ezr 10:8 And that whosoever would not come within three days, according to the counsel of the princes and the elders, all his substance should be forfeited, and himself separated from the congregation of those that had been carried away.
Ezr 10:9 Then all the men of Judah and Benjamin gathered themselves together unto Jerusalem within three days. It was the ninth month, on the twentieth day of the month; and all the people sat in the street of the house of God, trembling because of this matter, and for the great rain.
…….One thing that stands out to me in this section is the continuation of Ezra’s remorse. Just because there was an agreement by the congregation don’t mean it was time to let down the standard. This man prayed through! He was in such a place with God that even though things were looking better, he didn’t want to leave that Holy Place!
Ezr 10:10 And Ezra the priest stood up, and said unto them, Ye have transgressed, and have taken strange wives, to increase the trespass of Israel.
Ezr 10:11 Now therefore make confession unto the LORD God of your fathers, and do his pleasure: and separate yourselves from the people of the land, and from the strange wives.
…….Ezra was no fair weather Christian!
Standing in the cold rain, Ezra addressed the multitude that had gathered in Jerusalem to confess and repent of their sins of marrying Gentile women.
Ezr 10:12 Then all the congregation answered and said with a loud voice, As thou hast said, so must we do.
Ezr 10:13 But the people are many, and it is a time of much rain, and we are not able to stand without, neither is this a work of one day or two: for we are many that have transgressed in this thing.
Ezr 10:14 Let now our rulers of all the congregation stand, and let all them which have taken strange wives in our cities come at appointed times, and with them the elders of every city, and the judges thereof, until the fierce wrath of our God for this matter be turned from us.
Ezr 10:15 Only Jonathan the son of Asahel and Jahaziah the son of Tikvah were employed about this matter: and Meshullam and Shabbethai the Levite helped them.
Ezr 10:16 And the children of the captivity did so. And Ezra the priest, with certain chief of the fathers, after the house of their fathers, and all of them by their names, were separated, and sat down in the first day of the tenth month to examine the matter.
Ezr 10:17 And they made an end with all the men that had taken strange wives by the first day of the first month.
Ezr 10:18 And among the sons of the priests there were found that had taken strange wives: namely, of the sons of Jeshua the son of Jozadak, and his brethren; Maaseiah, and Eliezer, and Jarib, and Gedaliah.
Ezr 10:19 And they gave their hands that they would put away their wives; and being guilty, they offered a ram of the flock for their trespass.