Ezra’s Prayer

When Ezra the priest prayed in the ninth chapter of his book, he was not pointing out the sins of others. He did not tell God he was right and everyone else was wrong.

Ezra was ashamed and embarrassed for the sins that had been committed (Ezra 9:6). When he said, “Our iniquities have risen above our heads,” he painted the picture that Judah’s sins were drowning it. He was right. Sin can overwhelm us and drown us under its wake. Unless we recognize we need help rising above the tide, we can drown in sin!

Judah failed to realize its idol worship and its disregard for God and his laws had destroyed the nation. But it was just as King David wrote, “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people,” (Psalm 14:34 NASB). Ezra said in his prayer that the guilt of Judah had grown “to the heavens,” (Ezra 9:6b).

Not only was Judah drowning in sin, but also its iniquities were responsible for its captivity in Babylon and its lack of independence from its current Medo-Persian ruler (Ezra 9:7). This sin was not just Judah’s inability to admit its wickedness 70-years before its captivity, but for its refusal to admit its sin even when it had returned from Babylon.

There is a contrast here. Although Ezra clearly admits the sins of which Judah is guilty, his heart is lifted in thanksgiving for God’s grace. Ezra said, “But now for a brief moment grace has been shown from the LORD our God, to leave us an escaped remnant and to give us a peg in His holy place, (Ezra 9:8a). God saved Judah not because he was required to do so, but because God loved these people. So, he will extend grace to them; God will grant Judah a revival in its bonds.

Judah had once had “a peg in his holy place,” but it had been pulled out. For many years, the Jews had been bereft of the sacrificial system designed to cover its sins. Its place in the house of God had been removed because of the sins that enslaved it. But, now, Judah was given back its place. God, through his tender mercy, had allowed a remnant of Judah to return to Jerusalem. It would again have “a peg in his holy place.”

Ezra also notes that “our God has not forsaken us,” (Ezra 9:9). Through the 70-years captivity Judah suffered, it was always God’s design and desire to bring his people back to Jerusalem. God showed his lovingkindness is doing this, even though the Jews would fail him again. He did this because from this remnant, there would come the Messiah who would save us all. Even though God knew the Jews would fail, he gave them a chance to succeed anyway. Such is the lovingkindness of God for all.

God is extending everyone the same lovingkindness he gave Judah. Even if you’ve failed God before, he extends to you his grace and love to try again. You may even fail him again, but he is going to give you the chance to serve him anyway. Isn’t that amazing? As long as you are alive he continues to extend this grace and lovingkindness to you because this is what God is.

The apostle Paul wrote, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us,” (Romans 5:8). The Lord God extends his love to you and offers you a second, third, fourth, fifth chance. Isn’t it time you recognized the love he has for your soul and try to serve him again?