Study from God’s Word… Ezra, Chapters 9 – 10 … Passage for Reflection: Ezra 9: 13 … NIV 13 "What has happened to us is a result of our evil deeds and our great guilt, and yet, our God, you have punished us less than our sins have deserved and have given us a remnant like this.
My Journal for Today: Wow, … when a remnant of Jews was allowed by King Artaxerxes of Persia to return to Jerusalem to join other Jews who were already there with the task of rebuilding the Temple of God and reestablishing God’s Law for the people, Ezra, the Chief Priest of the Hebrews found a sociological and spiritual mess in his hands. Many of the Jewish men, including some of the Priests, had married foreign women, which was in direct defiance of the Law of Moses, …i.e., God’s will. And finding this Ezra grieved deeply; and you can read Ezra’s lament to God in a prayer, found in our Bible in Ezra: 9: 9 – 15, from which we get one sentiment in today’s highlighted text (i.e., verse 13).
I would exhort any who’re reading along with me here to go back and read this prayer (I’ll link you to it here for your personal study/meditation); and as you take in Ezra’s sincere prayer of lamentation, see if you’re not impressed that this could be the prayer of any Christians today who’re deeply grieved over the rampant sinfulness of a nation, America, which was founded and built on Christianity and has fallen away from its Judeo-Christian roots. Like the ancient Jews of Ezra’s day, we remnant Christians in America are now living in an era of degradation which is almost unprecedented in history. And like Ezra prayed, any of us could stand in awe of the mercy and grace afforded by our God as He sees – and must grieve over – our individual sinfulness as Christians and our collective sinfulness as a Church. We could say in fasting and prayer, as did Ezra, “… You (God) have punished us less than our sins have deserved.” And that truth, the outcome of which one can read about in any daily newspaper, is ever so prevalent now; but what is to be our individual and collective response to God’s mercy?
I shudder when I read the passage, written to the Roman Christians in Romans 1: 18-32 [also linked here for your study], which chronicles almost exactly what we see going on in our world today; and in this passage we read that God’s wrath of abandonment will be visited on any nation – as it was with the ancient Hebrews who were God’s chosen ones – who turns its back on God’s truth and His Law. And that’s exactly what Ezra was faced with to bring about revival for God’s chosen people. But not having the civil authority to do what Ezra did in a culture of theocracy, we are going to find it difficult in America, without God’s intervention, to turn things in the church and in our country back to a people who pursue God deeply in His word and live by His Law.
Often when someone asks me, “How’re you doing [?];” I learned years ago from my mentor to respond to that common greeting, “Always better than I deserve?” And you’d be surprised by the people who will say back, “Oh surely not!” And this gives me the opportunity to say in response, “If I read my Bible correctly, I’m much better off than I deserve;” which, of course is exactly what Ezra was praying about in today’s text.
Try that sometime; and see what others say when you witness the truth to them. It may give you an opportunity, as it has for me on many occasions, to plant at least a seed of truth in the minds of others about the relationship between a saved Christian and those in this lost world. At any rate, we should all be praying, as exhorted by God’s word, for those in authority … that they will come to the realization of God’s mercy and for them to accept the grace offered by a God who has been exceedingly merciful to sinners, like me, … sinners who are afforded much more grace than we deserve.
My Prayer for Today: O my Lord, … my merciful God. I stand deeply convicted by my sin and in awe of Your grace, which afforded me a Savior and Redeemer, even though daily I don’t deserve Your mercy. Amen