This passage relates to the exiled Israelites who had returned after Babylonian Captivity. It was reported that many of them including many priests and Levites had taken foreign wives, something God has expressly forbidden in Deuteronomy 7:3. God had commanded them not to marry pagans. Ezra did not stand idle. He tore his clothes, pulled some hair from his head and went into a public posture of mourning (9:5). Ezra communicates to all people the seriousness of this act and his complete disapproval of it. Ezra then prayed a prayer of confession.
What would have happened if Ezra did not react the way he did? Perhaps, the sinful behavior would have continued. But Ezra did not take it lightly, as a leader, he showed his disapproval. As a result of Ezra’s actions, people gathered around him, see their own sins and wept bitterly over them (10.1). Shecaniah (10:2), confesses the sin and proposes to Ezra that the people make a covenant to correct the sin. What I draw from this passage is that though it can be difficult for some of us to confront with someone who is living in sinful ways but we are commanded to by the Bible to expose it (Ephesians 5:11). Just like Ezra, we must bring it before God. We should not take it lightly and stand firm with God’s word and address it with grace, love and truth. Galatians 6:1 says “Dear brothers and sisters, if another believer is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path. And be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself”. The intention is to restore and not destroy.
How did the Israelites react after their sin was exposed to them? Not only was confession but there was genuine repentance. Why is this important? Sometimes, we can outwardly say we confess but we do not then proceed to change inwardly. Repentance is not only realizing that we are going in the wrong direction and feeling sorry about it. It is a decision that we make ourselves to stop going in the wrong direction and start going in the right direction. We must be transformed by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2). We must replace our wrong ways with God’s truth. The Word of God is a lamp to our feet and a light to our path. This means that it instructs us on how to live our lives and how to transform our thinking not as the world does but transform it to align with God’s will.
Father, we seek for an internal transformation of lives to walk as children of light. Where there is sin, bring it to the surface so that it can be washed clean by Your blood. Empower us by the power of the Holy Spirit to overcome this war with our sinful nature.