Bible Ballistics: BBs #398 Fresh Focus For Fall???
I’d like to share part of a story with you all this morning, the story of Israel’s return to Jerusalem from their Babylon captivity. Ezra and Nehemiah were two faithful servants of God who became leaders of the people in this tumultuous time in Israel’s history. While the people were returning to their home, they were easily discouraged and distracted (ring any bells?), and often wound up straying from God and His Word, even after seeing HIM keep HIS Word and deliver them from Babylon. Ezra was the religious leader of his people and Nehemiah the political leader, the appointed governor of Jerusalem. But the thing I want us to consider is the commitment of these two men to lead the people back to serving God faithfully, even when they met with opposition and disobedience.
The passage that we want to consider this morning is from the book of Ezra and deals with an issue of compromise that the people had been guilty of, and when this was brought to Ezra’s attention, he called for these disobedient people to repent and make things right before God. We won’t go into the detail, but you can read the entire account in chapters 9 and 10. If you want to get the entire picture of dealing with the conflicts of doing God’s work in an antagonistic world, read Ezra and Nehemiah this weekend—you’ll find it most enlightening.
But for now, let’s dig into what Ezra’s experience when confronted with the sin of his people. May we take heart today as we find ourselves also in a culture gone amuck with sin, and seek the face of our God—not in despair, but rather in hope and confidence in the God who will give us a “nail in his holy place”! God had promised His people that He would deliver them; and He has promised us that He will “never leave thee, nor forsake thee”! (See Hebrews 13:5-6) Consider Ezra’s response:
“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.
4 Then were assembled unto me
every one that trembled at the words
of the God of Israel,
because of the transgression
of those that had been
and I sat astonied until the evening sacrifice.
5 And at the evening sacrifice I arose up
from my heaviness;
and having rent my garment and my mantle,
I fell upon my knees,
and spread out my hands unto the LORD
6 And said,
O my God,
I am ashamed
and blush to lift up my face to thee,
for our iniquities are increased
over our head,
and our trespass is grown up
unto the heavens……
8 And now for a little space
grace hath been shewed
from the LORD our God,
to leave us a remnant to escape,
and to give us a nail in his holy place,
that our God may lighten our eyes,
and give us a little reviving
in our bondage.” Ezra 9:3-6 & 8
Ezra was grieved over the sin of his people, yet He knew the answer was repentance and faith! Faith in God’s power, goodness and salvation, and honesty before God in dealing with ‘sin’ as ‘sin’; for repentance is the only option!
So the thought I’d like to leave us with today is, may we allow God to burden out hearts with the sin of our culture, that we’ll intercede for those steeped in the clutches of sin. May we truly be beacons of truth to those in such desperate need, not with arrogance but with a heart broken for those who are wounded and broken by sin, reaching out in love and compassion. May we each reach out as Ezra did and call people to the Holy God who gave His Son Jesus to purchase salvation and impart it to all who will come to Him in repentance and faith! Reaching out:
“Till we all come in the unity of the faith,
and of the knowledge of the Son of God,
unto a perfect man,
unto the measure of the stature
of the fulness of Christ:
14 That we henceforth be no more children,
tossed to and fro,
and carried about
with every wind of doctrine,
by the sleight of men,
and cunning craftiness,
whereby they lie in wait
15 But speaking the truth in love,
may grow up
in all things,
which is the head,
even Christ:” Ephesians 4:13-15
Amen and Amen!