August 1, 2017
LET IT GLOW
There have been times that I felt convicted that I needed to apologize to someone for the things I said or did that hurt them. What a humbling experience. But God blesses our effort to set things right with others, set things straight. Relationships can be mended, but it may take some time. So be patient while the process of mending takes place. The Jews were in that process in setting things straight with God. Shall we see what happened?
After about five months, Ezra was confronted with a crisis which threatened the very life of the small community of exiles who had returned to Jerusalem. This crisis involved terrible sin that had seeped into the lives of the returned exiles. Many were involved in evil behavior of their unbelieving neighbors. There was a need for revival in Judah/Israel. Ezra was so deeply burdened and prayed to God confessing their sins. Now in the last chapter of this book, we read of the people confessing their sins and repenting, resulting in revival and restoration.
The Jews were not living lives of spiritual separation as commanded by God in Exodus 34:14-16. They were to worship no other god but the LORD God, for He is a jealous God. Also, the Jews were instructed to not take daughters or sons in marriage. Some men had even divorced their wives to marry unbelievers.
Malachi 2 describes the wife of thy youth as being a companion, a wife of thy covenant. God hates the putting away. We all have it in our families, whether immediate or extended. It is such a deeply hurtful thing. God's law did allow Jews to marry foreigners who turned away from their false worship and wicked lifestyles and turn to the Lord. Ruth was an example of this, and she was the great grandmother of King David.
We read of Ezra's confessing prayer, their past and present sins, their unworthiness of God's goodness.
In verse 1, we read what happened after this great prayer meeting:
- A very large crowd of Israelis gathered and wept bitterly with Ezra.
- Then a man named Shecanaih, a motivated leader, made a significant stand.
- He admitted they had been unfaithful to God, had married pagan women.
- But in spite of this there was hope in Israel, the man proclaimed.
- He challenged the people to make a covenant with their God to divorce their pagan wives and send them away with their children.
- He called the Jews to follow Ezra's advice.
- Let it be done according to the Law of God. (Deut. 7:3-4)
- He told Ezra to get up and tell them how to proceed in setting things straight, for it was his duty.
- He said they were behind Ezra, so he should be strong and take action.
Let us guard our children and grandchildren from heartache as we warn them to not get involved with unbelievers.
LET IT GROW
Ezra stood up and demanded tat the leaders of the priests and the Levites and all the people of Israel swear that they would do as Shecaniah had said. They swore a solemn oath. Then Ezra left the front of the Temple and spent the night in a room where he fasted and continued to mourn because of the unfaithfulness of the returned exiles.
Well, there was only 113 families out of about 29,000 families who committed to following God's Laws.
There is hope in the forgiveness and kindness of God. Before revival comes, confess of sins must occur. As God cleanses our heart, then our attitudes and actions will change.
LET IT GO
Set things straight with God and with others whenever I sin against them.
Stand against sin.
Intercede for others in prayer.