Summary: Ezra 10
MORE THAN JUST FEEL BAD (EZRA 10)
By the time Bobby arrived, the football game had already started. “Why are you so late?” asked his friend.
“I couldn’t decide between going to church and going to the football game. So I tossed a coin,” said Bobby.
“But that shouldn’t have taken too long,” said the friend.
“Well, I had to toss it 35 times.”
In Ezra chapter 9 Ezra felt heavyhearted (9:5) and heartbroken knowing the priests and the Levites (9:1) and the princes and rulers (9:3) did not separate themselves from the people of the lands and had taken local women for themselves and for their sons. He rent his clothes, plucked off the hair of his head and his beard, and sat down stupefied (9:3). In chapter 10, this chapter, his tears freely flowed (10:1) Not only his but the people as well (10:3).
How do we know if people have truly repented? What is the proof of a person’s conversion and change? Why is change more than just crying and confessing?
Confession Must Be Contrite
1 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.
Ken Bailey was a laborer on the Alaska Pipeline back in the mid 70’s. He worked up in the icy cold for a year and came back home and decided to visit church. The first Sunday he walked through the doors and sat in the back seat. He had a beard, looked like a Grizzly bear and perhaps a man that would never become a Christian. That morning the gospel was preached and an invitation given. The instant the music began Ken came rushing down the aisle. Tears came down his face as he gave his life to Jesus. The next Sunday he came back to services and he was dressed in a 3 piece suit and no beard! When someone asked what caused him to shave and dress up he said, “Jesus changed me on the inside and I want people to know it - so I changed the outside.” (Rick Stacy, Pastor of the Meridian Christian Church, Okemos, Michigan).
The verb “gather” (vv 1, 7, 9) makes one of its most occurrences in a chapter in the Bible. It was a meeting that people through the ages would not forget. People from all walks of life – men and women and children (v 1), the chief priests and the Levites (v 5), the princes and the elders (v 8), the rulers and the judges (v 14), and “all” in Hebrew - all Israel (v 5), all the children of the captivity (v 7), all the men of Judah and Benjamin (v 9), all the people (v 9) all the congregation (v 12) and all the men that had taken strange wives (v 17). “Wept bitterly” (v 1) does not provide an accurate picture of what happened. In Hebrew it is “wept very weeping/sore.” They cried their hearts out, their eyes swollen, their mouths dry, their face red and their throat coarse.
Elam, whose six sons were offenders (v 26), spoke for all. Surprisingly this is the first time the first person plural “We + trespassed” phrase - “we have trespassed/offended” (v 2) - is used in the Bible. Not only that, this is the first “trespass” confession in the Bible because it is usually in the third person – we trespassed (1 Chron 5:25) and he trespassed (2 Chron 28:22). In Hebrew there is another “we” before “we have been unfaithful/trespassed”– “we, we have been unfaithful/trespassed.” They accepted, admitted and acknowledged that they had failed the Lord, flouted God’s laws and forsaken His covenant. Trespass or transgress is from the preposition “very” – to overstep, overextended and overreached, over and above, over and over, over and over again.