Ezra 9 and 10 gives us a clear picture of the Gospel. The children of Israel prior to chapter 9 were experiencing a time of blessing, then we get to chapter 9 where we see them once again living in sin. Verse 1 and 2 tells us in what way they were sinning, “Now when these things were done, the princes came to me, saying, The people of Israel, and the priests, and the Levites, have not separated themselves from the people of the lands, doing according to their abominations, even of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Jebusites, the Ammonites, the Moabites, the Egyptians, and the Amorites. For they have taken of their daughters for themselves, and for their sons: so that the holy seed have mingled themselves with the people of those lands: yea, the hand of the princes and rulers hath been chief in this trespass.” Why was this so bad? In Deuteronomy 7:1-3 God gives a command to the Israelites, “When the Lord thy God shall bring thee into the land whither thou goest to possess it, and hath cast out many nations before thee, the Hittites, and the Girgashites, and the Amorites, and the Canaanites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites, seven nations greater and mightier than thou; And when the Lord thy God shall deliver them before thee; thou shalt smite them, and utterly destroy them; thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor shew mercy unto them: Neither shalt thou make marriages with them; thy daughter thou shalt not give unto his son, nor his daughter shalt thou take unto thy son.” The sin they were accused of was not an unknowing sin. God commanded them not to inter-marry.
The prophet Ezra was obviously upset over this. He said, “And when I heard this thing, I rent my garment and my mantle, and plucked off the hair of my head and of my beard, and sat down astonied.“ You know it’s bad when the preacher is literally pulling his hair out! You have a man whose life’s work is to preach and teach the Bible to God’s people and they forget it what seems so easily. Ezra describes it as the people were drowning in sin. He says, “for our iniquities are increased over our head.” (9:6)
What does this man of God do? He prays. The rest of chapter 9 gives us his prayer. Among other things he thanks God for His goodness, confesses sin, and asks forgiveness. In chapter 10 we see the results of that prayer. I would like to say the whole nation turned back to God, but I can’t. In order for there to be a sweet relationship again they needed to stop committing the sin and inter-marriage. Some did change and some did not. Some repented and some did not.
This could be disheartening, but only if you’re focusing on the wrong aspect of the passage. The message of Ezra as well as the overlying theme of the Bible is not about the sinner. It’s about the Savior. God offers ways of restoration, but they are His ways, not our way. God is good. Choose today to dwell on God’s grace and goodness- the Rescuer of drowning victims.