Ezra 10:1-44; 1 Corinthians 6:1-20; Psalm 31:9- 18; Proverbs 21:3
Ezra’s Heart for People
Ezra the priest spoke as a prophet before the house of God when he announced that the sin of his people was great. He called them to solemn repentance, and as he prayed and made confession, weeping (10:1), the people joined him in tears (10:3). As the story unfolded, Ezra fell into a period of mourning for the faithlessness of the exiles and dutifully interceded for them again with more tears. Tears can be cleansing vehicles of true repentance, and they can express shame, anger, outrage, and an intention for true life change.
Even in the harshest of Lenten observances, I seldom see tears in the eyes of others and, even less seldom, in my own eyes. When I read about Ezra’s tears for the faithlessness of his flock, I wonder what he knew about his flock that I don’t know about my flock. We apologize and expect God to forgive. We have heard way too many sermons and teachings about the abundance of grace, mercy, and the forgiveness of God that we expect a clean slate immediately after a word of prayer leaves our lips or our heart.
Ezra and the people expressed deep regret through careful examination of their lives. Their sinfulness had become readily apparent. They had intermarried against God’s command; they had not insured the safety of Jerusalem; they had not kept the commandments, statutes and ordinances of God; they had not maintained the walls around the holy city to protect it from invasion; and the list goes on.
While encouraging the nation to action and change, and to honor God and His Word, we often find tears in the eyes of God’s leaders. Perhaps it is time to be more faithful in prayer, and to weep for our sin and the sins of our people.
The Rev. Scott T. Holcombe
St. David’s by the Sea Episcopal Church
Cocoa Beach, FL