After arriving in Jerusalem it was not long before Ezra was “hit” with a problem of major proportions. Many of the people, the leaders being prominent among them, had intermarried with the people of the land – a direct violation of the Lord’s will (9:1-5). Upon hearing this Ezra expresses his grief by demonstration anxiety, guilt, penitence, and offers a prayer to the Lord for guidance (9:6-15).
Application: The situation facing Ezra and the community at large was no insignificant matter. That which sent Israel into captivity to begin with was the nation’s rebellion to the Lord’s expressed will – now here they are again. What to do? The answer to this will not be until the next chapter, but there are two things we can learn here: first, when such a problem arises (any problem, really) there should be a proper response. That proper response may not be exactly like Ezra’s personal response, but a penitent response it should be none the less. Even though Ezra was not guilty, it was his leadership that many turned toward to know what to do (the weight of that was monumental on Ezra’s shoulders). Second, the penitent response was followed by a prayer of devotion and guilt confession. Note that this prayer was not for Ezra himself, but he led in this prayer for his nation. This was a public prayer, and one that made clear to the Lord and the people what the problem was, and to whom they all needed to turn.
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