“After these things, the officials approached me and said, ‘The people of Israel and the priests have not separated themselves from the peoples of the lands with their abominations… They have taken some of their daughters to be wives for themselves and their sons, so that the holy race has mixed itself with the peoples of the lands. And in this faithlessness the hand of the officials and chief men has been foremost.’ As soon as I heard this, I tore my garment and my cloak and pulled hair from my head and beard and sat appalled. Then all who trembled at the words of God, because of the faithlessness of the returned exiles, gathered around me… At the evening sacrifice I rose from my fasting,.. and fell upon my knees and spread out my hands to the Lord my God, saying:
“O my God, I am ashamed and blush to lift my face to you, for our iniquities have risen higher than our heads, and our guilt has mounted up to the heavens. From the days of our fathers to this day we have been in great guilt. And for our iniquities we… have been given into the hand of the kings of the lands, to the sword, to captivity, to plundering, and to utter shame… But now for a brief moment favor has been shown by the Lord, 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. For we are slaves. Yet our God has not forsaken us.., but has extended his steadfast love… 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.” Ezra 9:1-9
After a successful journey back to Jerusalem under God’s gracious protection, Ezra realized not all was right. Though imperfect like everyone else, he knew God’s word and when people had broken it. Upon learning about the forbidden intermarriages, he was appalled, stricken, and ashamed. He saw sin for what it was: horrid rebellion against the high and holy God, and repulsive self-indulgence. Faithlessness at its worst. He bowed immediately before the only One who could revive Israel. (Ezra 7:10)
Our world has turned morally topsy-turvy. We’ve grown apathetic to sin, unaccustomed to conviction and repentance. A diminished view of God and exalted perception of man has caused shame to all but disappear, actually disguising itself as welcome while ‘shaming’ those who uphold godly convictions. Only a right understanding of God’s righteousness and worth will brighten our moral eyes.
How well do we know the Bible on issues that concern us- sexual mores, work ethics, relationship expectations, recreation, financial stewardship? The more familiar we are with God’s word, the keener will be our consciences, and the clearer our path when considering life choices.
And when we stray into sin, are we grieved? Do we heed the Spirit’s conviction and call to return, confident in His mercy? He alone removes our shame. (Ezra 9:10-15; Isaiah 30:15; Zephaniah 3:19; Romans 10:11; Hebrews 4:16; 1 Peter 2:6,24; 1 John 1:9)
Lord, guard me from the allure of surrounding peoples opposed to you. Brighten my spiritual eyes, and revive my heart to be whole and holy, for Your sake.