Ezra 9 – February 10
Welcome to our studies in Ezra and Nehemiah! These books will shine the light on God being in control of our world, moving us to do His work. Join our study by following along with the reading plan then reflecting and journaling on each day’s reading to humble yourself before Him and listen. Below is the NIV version of today’s reading followed by a SOAP journal note from one of our study leaders. If you’re wondering what SOAP is…it’s a method of Bible study that focuses on applying scripture to our every days. Read more about it on our website.
Ezra 9 – Ezra’s Prayer About Intermarriage
9 After these things had been done, the leaders came to me and said, “The people of Israel, including the priests and the Levites, have not kept themselves separate from the neighboring peoples with their detestable practices, like those of the Canaanites, Hittites, Perizzites, Jebusites, Ammonites, Moabites, Egyptians and Amorites. 2 They have taken some of their daughters as wives for themselves and their sons, and have mingled the holy race with the peoples around them. And the leaders and officials have led the way in this unfaithfulness.”
3 When I heard this, I tore my tunic and cloak, pulled hair from my head and beard and sat down appalled. 4 Then everyone who trembled at the words of the God of Israel gathered around me because of this unfaithfulness of the exiles. And I sat there appalled until the evening sacrifice.
5 Then, at the evening sacrifice, I rose from my self-abasement, with my tunic and cloak torn, and fell on my knees with my hands spread out to the Lord my God 6 and prayed:
“I am too ashamed and disgraced, my God, to lift up my face to you, because our sins are higher than our heads and our guilt has reached to the heavens. 7 From the days of our ancestors until now, our guilt has been great. Because of our sins, we and our kings and our priests have been subjected to the sword and captivity, to pillage and humiliation at the hand of foreign kings, as it is today.
8 “But now, for a brief moment, the Lord our God has been gracious in leaving us a remnant and giving us a firm place in his sanctuary, and so our God gives light to our eyes and a little relief in our bondage. 9 Though we are slaves, our God has not forsaken us in our bondage. He has shown us kindness in the sight of the kings of Persia: He has granted us new life to rebuild the house of our God and repair its ruins, and he has given us a wall of protection in Judah and Jerusalem.
10 “But now, our God, what can we say after this? For we have forsaken the commands 11 you gave through your servants the prophets when you said: ‘The land you are entering to possess is a land polluted by the corruption of its peoples. By their detestable practices they have filled it with their impurity from one end to the other. 12 Therefore, do not give your daughters in marriage to their sons or take their daughters for your sons. Do not seek a treaty of friendship with them at any time, that you may be strong and eat the good things of the land and leave it to your children as an everlasting inheritance.’
13 “What has happened to us is a result of our evil deeds and our great guilt, and yet, our God, you have punished us less than our sins deserved and have given us a remnant like this. 14 Shall we then break your commands again and intermarry with the peoples who commit such detestable practices? Would you not be angry enough with us to destroy us, leaving us no remnant or survivor? 15 Lord, the God of Israel, you are righteous! We are left this day as a remnant. Here we are before you in our guilt, though because of it not one of us can stand in your presence.”
Pleading for His Mercy | Dyea Rowland
Much defilement was taking place at this time; God’s people were intermarrying with pagans. With their wicked practices and turning away from God, they would lead themselves right back into their own kind of exile and destruction. Ezra, though not behaving this way, knew there was no justifiable reason(s) for his people to be acting in this manner. He got right to it in verses 6 and 7. Ezra started out confessing his own shame and embarrassment, then made that shift into intercessory prayer for the nation. He knew his job was to teach God’s people and knew these acts against Him were severe. Ezra didn’t pray for justice; he prayed for God to be merciful.
I’ve been crying out for “justice”, feeling wrongly treated and that life is just unfair. But I’ve been looking at it all wrong. No wonder I feel as if I am in my own kind of exile and that I am self-destructing all over the place. Oh my gosh, if I look back and got the “justice” I’ve been longing for – oh heavens it would not be good. The past couple of days, You’ve been working out some yucky ways that I have been acting, showing me how I’ve “actually” been living. There hasn’t been much “love spewing” going on in my world. I should be pleading for Your mercy not justice.
Father, I am so unbelievably fortunate to have You. You are a fair and just God, but ultimately a God of grace and mercy. Please forgive me, for my bitterness, selfishness, and rebellion lately. I pray for Your mercy, for all of my wrong words and actions. Help me to show mercy and grace too. In Jesus’ name…Amen.
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