Summary: Revival Comes: 1) When people acknowledge their Personal Sinfulness (Ezra 9:5-6), 2) When people acknowledge their Collective Responsibility (Ezra 9:7), 3) When people acknowledge their Godly Activity (Ezra 9:8-9)
Carolyn Berry wore opera-length pearls when she took the high road, posing for the cover of People magazine in 2001 with her arm around husband Gary Condit, then a U.S. Congressman and suspect in the death of Chandra Levy, a Washington intern with whom he’d had an affair. Silda Wall Spitzer, former First Lady of New York State, also wore pearls when she played The Good Wife to Eliot Spitzer’s Bad Governor who, in 2008, was embroiled in a prostitution scandal. Gloria Cain, wife of Herman Cain, whose 2012 presidential campaign unravelled due to accusations of sexual harassment, took to television to vouch for her man wearing very few accessories. Melania Trump also chose minimalism for her televised testimonial in the wake of the 2016 release of Donald Trump’s infamous Access Hollywood outtake and the sexual assault allegations that followed. Renata Ford made a rare public appearance wearing sombre tones in 2013 during one of Rob Ford’s numerous troubles. Like Huma Abedin before her — wife of former New York Congressman Anthony Weiner, whose serial sexting troubles started in 2011 — she appeared head-bowed, hands clasped in repose. This sad sorority welcomed a new member this week: Janneke Van Berge Henegouwen, wife of Montreal MNA Gerry Sklavounos, who stood stoic on Thursday as her husband announced his intention to return to his seat in the National Assembly. (http://news.nationalpost.com/full-comment/michelle-hauser-another-stoic-woman-joins-the-good-wives-club-in-face-of-husbands-political-scandal)
In our day, when many feel little responsibility even for their own sins, it strikes us as strange that anyone would feel such personal guilt and pain over the sins of others. A more common reaction might be a feeling of smug satisfaction, like that of the Pharisee who thanked God that he was not as sinful as the tax collector (Luke 18:9–14). Political leaders today seldom feel compelled to resign because of the misdeeds of their subordinates as they once did. They might be more inclined to put the blame for their own misdeeds on their subordinates and sacrifice the subordinates to save themselves (Brug, J. F. (1985). Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther (p. 52). Milwaukee, WI: Northwestern Pub. House.).
The most remarkable feature of Ezra’s confession in Ezra 9 is the thoroughness with which he identifies himself with his erring countrymen, is ashamed of their transgressions, and for their misconduct. All their sins he appears to consider as his sins, all their disobedience as his disobedience, all their perils as his perils. Another striking feature in his sense of the exceeding sinfulness of the particular sin of the time (see vers. 6, 7, 10). He views it as a “great trespass”—one that “is grown up into the heavens”—which is equivalent to a complete forsaking of God’s commandments, and on account of which he and his people “cannot stand before” God. This feeling seems based partly on the nature of the sin itself (ver. 14), but also, and in an especial way, on a strong sense of the ingratitude shown by the people in turning from God so soon after God had forgiven their former sins against him, and allowed them to return from the captivity, rebuild the temple, and re-establish themselves as a nation. If after their deliverance they again fell away, the sin could not but be unpardonable; and the punishment to be expected was a final uprooting and destruction from which there could be no recovery (vers. 13, 14).
When Revival Comes to a people, sin is not excused, or played down but repented of. God does not want a people to work themselves worthy, dismiss sin or be paralyzed in guilt. When Revival Comes, people experience true freedom in Christ, repent of sin and live lives in the fullness of godly joy, free from the bondage of sin. Ezra 9:5-9 shows us that Revival Comes: 1) When people acknowledge their Personal Sinfulness (Ezra 9:5-6), 2) When people acknowledge their Collective Responsibility (Ezra 9:7), 3) When people acknowledge their Godly Activity (Ezra 9:8-9)
1) When people acknowledge their Personal Sinfulness (Ezra 9:5-6)
Ezra 9:5-6 5 And at the evening sacrifice I rose from my fasting, with my garment and my cloak torn, and fell upon my knees and spread out my hands to the LORD my God, 6 saying: “O my God, I am ashamed and blush to lift my face to you, my God, for our iniquities have risen higher than our heads, and our guilt has mounted up to the heavens. (ESV)
God brings revival to a people who see the gravity of their sin. Instead of blaming their environment, their parents, friends or common practice, they see the holiness of God and recognize their urgent need for forgiveness. They see how sin is such a significant barrier to a relationship with God and desperately cry out to him for forgiveness. Here in Ezra 9, Ezra recognizes the seriousness of the condition that he is in, and instead of pointing fingers elsewhere, he personally sees his sin and need for God’s forgiveness.