For perhaps the first four months of his return to Jerusalem, rather than hang in the city, Ezra visits all of the neighbouring towns, issuing the Kings decree. So its not until he returns to Jerusalem that he discovers that there are some serious problems which are compromising the people of God.
There are three things that we ought to take note of as we read through Ezra chapter 9.
First, we must come to acknowledge that the professing people of God can be very disappointing.
Second, we must come to include ourselves in that number
Third, having included ourselves among the guilty, there are times when the only right thing to do is to down tools and tremble before a Holy God who may, or may not extend his mercy to this generation.
The problem here is one of sanctification.
The people had not “separated themselves from the peoples of the land. And the problem is extensive since even the leaders and their sons are implicated in the defilement.
It was the old problem of inter-marriage with unbelievers. And the consequence is always the same. When the people of God lose their distinctiveness, they cease to be His people in any real, tangible or visible way.
The church must always be a different people – they can never – they dare never – fit in this world the way the world would like them to. The church is not a Multi cultural Society. Ezra is beside himself, and for good reason. He knows where this could very well lead.
But he is not alone. Others, seeing Ezra’s violent reaction are convicted and so join Ezra in his grief over God’s people before the Lord. All those who “trembled at at the words of God over Israel gathers to Ezra. Note that this trembling is precisely what God wants from His people.
(Isa 66:2) “On this one will I look; on the one who is afflicted and stricken in spirit; who trembles at My Word.”
This is the posture of the church. Trembling at sin. Ezra’s prayer teaches us that our guilt is massive, collective and long standing and is, thankfully, matched in magnitude by God’s grace. But, will God extend it.. yet again?
Lessons For little Saints…
- Why was Ezra so upset?
- What does the bible teach about marrying unbelievers?
- What is marriage a picture of?
- What is Ezra afraid might happen to God’s people?