Summary: Ezra 9:5-9 shows us three ways 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)
Ezra 9:5-9 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. 7 From the days of our fathers to this day we have been in great guilt. And for our iniquities we, our kings, and our priests have been given into the hand of the kings of the lands, to the sword, to captivity, to plundering, and to utter shame, as it is today. 8 But now for a brief moment favor has been shown by the LORD our God, to leave us a remnant and to give us a secure hold within his holy place, that our God may brighten our eyes and grant us a little reviving in our slavery. 9 For we are slaves. Yet our God has not forsaken us in our slavery, but has extended to us his steadfast love before the kings of Persia, to grant us some reviving to set up the house of our God, to repair its ruins, and to give us protection in Judea and Jerusalem. (ESV)
In Ontario we have now entered another state of emergency. Public officials have declared how dangerous the situation is, to stay home, yet many of those same municipal, provincial and federal officials, continued to travel. Many have been caught. Some have resigned their positions. From that, there is visible public anger over the mixed messaging. People have complained that they were told to not be with their families over major events like Christmas, while these officials did not seem to heed their own advice.
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). Although there is a biblical directive to be angry at sin and hypocrisy (Eph. 4:26), we must take great pains to avoid accusing others of unrighteousness and perform unrighteousness ourselves. There is no room for a smug satisfaction, like that of the Pharisee who thanked God that he was not as sinful as the tax collector (Luke 18:9–14). (Brug, J. F. (1985). Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther (p. 52). Milwaukee, WI: Northwestern Pub. House.). Unlike the Pharisee, the (tax collector) in our Lord’s parable (Luke 18:9–14), Ezra was too ashamed to look up to heaven as he prayed. The inability to blush because of sin is a mark of hypocrisy and superficial spiritual experience (Jer. 6:13–15, 8:12). Words and actions that would have made earlier generations blush in shame are today part of the normal “entertainment” diet of the average TV viewer. When a nation turns sin into entertainment and laughs at what ought to make us weep, we are in desperate need of revival. (Wiersbe, W. W. (1997). Be heroic (pp. 51–52). Colorado Springs, CO: ChariotVictor Pub.)
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 three ways 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)
First, Revival comes:
1) When people acknowledge their Personal Sinfulness (Ezra 9:5-6)