Archive for February 10th, 2018

This chapter presents a model of how to express repentance on behalf of our nation. The issue was that of intermarriage between those who followed Yahweh and their neighbouring peoples who worshipped other gods. This impacted their whole life – government, business and family. It echoes the promises and warnings associated with the original call to take possession of the Promised Land in Exodus 34:11-16 and Deuteronomy 7:1-4. It’s the existing, established leaders who approach Ezra rather than the incomers – it’s as if their very presence has raised the bar on lifestyle issues. The contagiousness of holiness is apparent and they’re convicted of their need to be a holy – separate – people.

 

For those contemplating marriage, and are perhaps considering the ‘person specification’ of a potential spouse, these verses can challenge us to put on the list the requirement for the person to know and love Jesus. It’s hard to imagine how we can enter into all that God has for us if we deliberately choose to marry someone who doesn’t know, love or prioritise Him.

 

But back to repentance. This issue leads Ezra into repentance. He is appalled, tears his tunic, pulls hair, falls on his knees, spreads out his hands in prayer – all expressions of distress and intercession. He doesn’t sit in judgment over the people but numbers himself with them. Rather than pleading his own innocence he identifies himself as part of the failed community. He’s deeply ashamed of the national guilt. He’s aware of the glory of which they have fallen short. If we love our nation then this is our starting point too. Not to sit in judgment but to weep over the city; to follow in Jesus’ footsteps and to consider their sin ours too.

 

Ezra is also aware of the mercy and kindness of God in raising up a remnant and sees this as a shadow of all it’s possible for God to do.  However, his prayer born out of weakness, vulnerability and powerlessness. It’s the prayer of a desperate man on behalf of a destroyed community. The reality of brokenness was all too apparent for Ezra. For us, it’s perhaps less visible but no less true. In our nation there are multiple signs of a depraved and lapsed moral standard, a fractured society with divisions between the rich and the poor, family life under pressure, a loss of law and order, a failing judicial system, a society lurching between the twin dangers of secularisation and pluralism – the worship of many gods.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Pray for our nation. Make Ezra’s prayer your own. Let the Holy Spirit in you form your prayer.

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