The Lord’s people had been thrust out of the Promised Land because of their unfaithfulness. Now that the Lord had brought them back home, it was deeply disappointing for Ezra the priest to receive a report that they were marrying women who were not part of the covenant community. This was behavior that the Lord had expressly forbidden in His Word. Not only were they sinning badly in this matter, but some of the chiefs were setting a very poor example in their own rebellion against God.
Ezra was deeply grieved by this report of “faithlessness.” The priest turned to the Lord in humble prayer. He did not hide the guilt of the people from God. He acknowledged their sinful past that had led to a national disaster. He also spoke of the favor that the Lord had shown them by giving them a new opportunity to serve Him honorably. But now what would happen?
From the beginning of the Lord’s history with Moses and Joshua those who received the Law of God were told that they could not marry the daughters of the Canaanites or give their daughters in marriage to them. Those nations that had once been in the land were under the Lord’s curse. Ezra 9 ends with Ezra’s humble plea for Israel. He led the people in repentance. God had shown them great grace and favor. The Lord’s mercy demanded that they consider His Word carefully and obey Him.
We who live after the coming of our faithful Messiah have been the recipients of a much larger mercy. Such divine kindness requires a sincere response of loyalty on the part of those who have been baptized in the Name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. We should be deeply thankful that we have become joint-heirs with Christ. The only appropriate way for us to show our gratitude to the Lord is to give Him the obedience of faith which He has always demanded of all those who would claim to love Him.
Prayer from A Book of Prayers
Glorious God, we feel the danger of the world all around us. There is so much false thinking and idolatrous worship everywhere. Even some of Your leaders have been quickly overtaken by temptation. We pray that You would hear our cry for help as we humble ourselves before You. We have been walking without sense in the midst of great sin and danger. We should know the truth by now. We cannot travel along the way of death in order to find life. How could we be so foolish! So many are enslaved by sin in what should be a day of great opportunity and hope. We have work to do. It is so close to us, and yet our hands will not move. It is right there for us to take and to do, but we are turned away by entangling distraction and iniquities. Would we test You by despising Your commandments again? See our weakness and hear us as we appeal to You for strength.