Thursday, May 23: Ezra 8-10
Ezra’s story comes to a close with some humbling words as he prays for the people of Israel. I think they are beautiful words that continue to speak to us/for us even today. Granted, the events leading up to his prayer was the discovery of those who had intermarried with people of other nations. Yet, he speaks over arching words of being reconciled with God. It’s wonderful. If you didn’t read through chapter 9, here these words from Ezra’s prayer:
“I am too ashamed and disgraced, my God, to lift up my face to you, because our sins are higher than our heads and our guilt has reached to the heavens. 7 From the days of our ancestors until now, our guilt has been great. Because of our sins, we and our kings and our priests have been subjected to the sword and captivity, to pillage and humiliation at the hand of foreign kings, as it is today.
8 “But now, for a brief moment, the Lord our God has been gracious in leaving us a remnant and giving us a firm place[a] in his sanctuary, and so our God gives light to our eyes and a little relief in our bondage.9 Though we are slaves, our God has not forsaken us in our bondage. He has shown us kindness in the sight of the kings of Persia: He has granted us new life to rebuild the house of our God and repair its ruins, and he has given us a wall of protection in Judah and Jerusalem.
10 “But now, our God, what can we say after this? For we have forsaken the commands 11 you gave through your servants the prophets when you said: ‘The land you are entering to possess is a land polluted by the corruption of its peoples. By their detestable practices they have filled it with their impurity from one end to the other. 12 Therefore, do not give your daughters in marriage to their sons or take their daughters for your sons. Do not seek a treaty of friendship with them at any time, that you may be strong and eat the good things of the land and leave it to your children as an everlasting inheritance.’
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 deserved and have given us a remnant like this. 14 Shall we then break your commands again and intermarry with the peoples who commit such detestable practices? Would you not be angry enough with us to destroy us, leaving us no remnant or survivor? 15 Lord, the God of Israel, you are righteous! We are left this day as a remnant. Here we are before you in our guilt, though because of it not one of us can stand in your presence.”
Sometimes as a Christian today, it feels as if we are the remnant of faithful followers. Do you feel the same? Perhaps, as Ezra once did, we should pray, not only for our selves, but for those who do not yet know God, that they might, and that together we might find salvation in the life, death, and resurrection of Christ!
Our next readings:
Friday, May 24: Nehemiah 1-3
Saturday, May 25: Nehemiah 4-6
Sunday, May 26: Nehemiah 7
Side note: I’m getting ready for some travel, and I’ve decided that it’s okay to not take work with me. Once we get through Ezra, I’ll probably “blog-off” for a few weeks so I can enjoy some time with family and serve with our youth on their mission trip. I know I’ll keep reading. Hope you will too. And maybe, I’ll just surprise you with a few posts along the way. Be sure to stay tuned . . .