This summer, we are studying the Beatitudes that start-off Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5:1-12. These ways that Jesus tells us we should act as Christians are counter-cultural, with blessings or rewards that will come in eternity, not here. We’ll be digging deeper into each of the 9 Beatitudes, looking at other verses in the Bible that describe each characteristic, Biblical characters that exude the Beatitudes, and the blessing that comes from it. Join our study by reading today’s scripture below and journaling about it using SOAP (click on the “What’s SOAP?” link above to learn more). Below today’s scripture is an example SOAP from our team. We love hearing from you! Please use the comment section of our website to share your SOAP, thoughts or questions on the reading, or prayer requests. Join us as we build unity and community through God’s Word!
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” (Matthew 5:4)
The People’s Confession of Sin
While Ezra was praying and confessing, weeping and throwing himself down before the house of God, a large crowd of Israelites—men, women and children—gathered around him. They too wept bitterly. 2 Then Shekaniah son of Jehiel, one of the descendants of Elam, said to Ezra, “We have been unfaithful to our God by marrying foreign women from the peoples around us. But in spite of this, there is still hope for Israel. 3 Now let us make a covenant before our God to send away all these women and their children, in accordance with the counsel of my lord and of those who fear the commands of our God. Let it be done according to the Law. 4 Rise up; this matter is in your hands. We will support you, so take courage and do it.”
5 So Ezra rose up and put the leading priests and Levites and all Israel under oath to do what had been suggested. And they took the oath.
6 Then Ezra withdrew from before the house of God and went to the room of Jehohanan son of Eliashib. While he was there, he ate no food and drank no water, because he continued to mourn over the unfaithfulness of the exiles.
7 A proclamation was then issued throughout Judah and Jerusalem for all the exiles to assemble in Jerusalem. 8 Anyone who failed to appear within three days would forfeit all his property, in accordance with the decision of the officials and elders, and would himself be expelled from the assembly of the exiles.
9 Within the three days, all the men of Judah and Benjamin had gathered in Jerusalem. And on the twentieth day of the ninth month, all the people were sitting in the square before the house of God, greatly distressed by the occasion and because of the rain. 10 Then Ezra the priest stood up and said to them, “You have been unfaithful; you have married foreign women, adding to Israel’s guilt. 11 Now honor the Lord, the God of your ancestors, and do his will. Separate yourselves from the peoples around you and from your foreign wives.”
12 The whole assembly responded with a loud voice: “You are right! We must do as you say. 13 But there are many people here and it is the rainy season; so we cannot stand outside. Besides, this matter cannot be taken care of in a day or two, because we have sinned greatly in this thing. 14 Let our officials act for the whole assembly. Then let everyone in our towns who has married a foreign woman come at a set time, along with the elders and judges of each town, until the fierce anger of our God in this matter is turned away from us.” 15 Only Jonathan son of Asahel and Jahzeiah son of Tikvah, supported by Meshullam and Shabbethai the Levite, opposed this.
16 So the exiles did as was proposed. Ezra the priest selected men who were family heads, one from each family division, and all of them designated by name. On the first day of the tenth month they sat down to investigate the cases, 17 and by the first day of the first month they finished dealing with all the men who had married foreign women.
Make it Right | Marianne Toovey
After 70 years of exile, the Israelites have finally returned to their own land and are reacquainting themselves with God. In so doing, their sins have been brought to the surface. All that time spent away from God means their transgressions are many. Ezra was brokenhearted to see how far they had fallen. But good news! The Israelites realized this and decided to stop at nothing to make things right again. Ezra is in a state of mourning for his people in verse 6, but he will find comfort in the events that take place as a result of his sadness.
There’s nothing that disappoints me more as a mom than blatant disregard for the rules. However, my daughter is a “mom-pleaser”, and as soon as she realizes her mistake and how upset it has made me, she’s quick to make things right. She can’t stand to see me like that and wants me to feel better. Of course, some of it is her own desire not to be in trouble – but making me feel better means fixing her mistake and learning from it. I won’t have to be upset anymore, and she won’t be making that mistake again. It’s win-win. Sure, it would be better if the mistake was never made in the first place. But living in an imperfect world as imperfect people, we’re going to be let down again and again. The good news is that God will never let us down, and one day we’ll be restored and our hearts will be made whole again. Our mourning will not last forever.
Father, I know I too am guilty of breaking Your heart for breaking Your rules. I want to make things right, but I can’t without Your help. Give me wisdom to make the right choices, and help me to live as an example to others. Break our hearts for what breaks Yours. Set in motion the revolution that will motivate us to change, just like Ezra did for Your people in this chapter. Help us make things right. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
The Discover One Thing main website follows a reading plan that goes through the entire Bible in one year. Click HERE to check out today’s Discover One Thing post.