Summary: What is penance? – an act of self-abasement, mortification or devotion performed to show sorrow. What is repentance? – to turn from sin and dedicate oneself, to feel regret or contrition. What is confession? - disclosure of one’s sins in sacrament of reconciliation, acknowledgement of guilt.
Ezra prays before the people regarding their disobedience to God by intermarriage with heathens. Previously, Israelite men had been marrying heathen women (Judges 3:5-7). King Solomon had also been guilty of heathen marriage (1 Kings 11:1-8).
In verses 1-4
This passage of scripture tells who had sinned, not just the common people but the appointed leaders as well. Bear in mind, our leadership privilege, or position, increases our responsibility to others. This was not a racial issue but a spiritual one. Intermarriage lead the Jews to adopt heathen practices; immorality and idolatry were now common. People should be spiritually bonded together in order to have an effective and meaningful relationship.
A few Israelites had married pagan mates and forgotten about God's purpose for them. Such relationships can't have harmony with devotion and compliance to God. Faith may turn into an issue and one companion may need to concede convictions for purpose of solidarity. Numerous individuals lament this activity later. Try not to permit passion or emotion dazzle you to the significance of wedding somebody whom you share spiritual convictions with.
Ezra became heavy hearted with what the people had allowed to happen. He was shocked at transgression of the people. He could have delivered a great speech or formed a committee, but instead he prayed.
In verses 5-15
After hearing of the people’s transgressions, Ezra prayed. He could have said ‘their iniquities’ but he instead he said ‘our iniquities’. Ezra included himself in the prayer, and he recognized that that sin is serious, that no one sins without affecting others, and that he was not sinless, even though he had not intermarried.
The sins of the people were confessed in Ezra’s prayer. Despite the fact that he had not trespassed in the manner his kin had, he related to their transgressions. He communicated disgrace for wrongdoing, dread of the outcomes, and the craving for the individuals to wake up and atone. The people cried after hearing his prayer. Ezra showed the requirement for a community to be holy around the revamped sanctuary. God’s love and mercy had spared the nation although they had not deserved it. In addition, if God had given the justice the people deserved, they could not stand.
• Numbers 16:21-22; 45-46
• Deuteronomy 9:7-8; 13-14
Our local churches need a holy community and if we sin, we must turn to God in repentance through prayer. We are to live a separated life.
• Mark 14:38 – watch ye and pray, lest ye enter into temptation
• Luke 21:36 – watch ye therefore, and pray always
• 1 Thessalonians 5:17 – pray without ceasing
• James 5:16 – effectual fervent prayer
• 1 Peter 2:9 – but ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood
• 1 John 2:15 – love not the world, neither the things that are in the world
• Romans 12:2 – and be not conformed to this world