1After these things had been done, the officials approached me and said, “The people of Israel and the priests and the Levites have not separated themselves from the peoples of the lands with their abominations, from the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Jebusites, the Ammonites, the Moabites, the Egyptians, and the Amorites. 2 For they have taken some of their daughters to be wives for themselves and for 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.” 3As soon as I heard this, I tore my garment and my cloak and pulled hair from my head and beard and sat appalled. 4Then all who trembled at the words of the God of Israel, because of the faithlessness of the returned exiles, gathered around me while I sat appalled until the evening sacrifice. 5And 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 (Ezra 9:1-4, ESV).
Ezra and Nehemiah were both part of the exile into Babylon, and God used both of them to bring His people back to Jerusalem. Whereas God called Nehemiah to re-establish the civic nature of God’s people, He called Ezra to re-invigorate the spiritual nature of God’s people.
In reading this passage, one may think Ezra is upset about the racial issues of intermarriage. Intermarriage was not an issue, since Moses intermarried with Zipporah and Ruth intermarried with Boaz. The problem was with the gods they served. Solomon was told not to intermarry with foreign women because the gods would take him away. Such was the issue of compromise with the people of Israel. This was not a racial compromise, but a spiritual compromise of the first order.
Ezra didn’t employ an ‘me faithful vs. them unfaithful’ mentality. His prayer to God showed him identifying with the sins of his people, and thus interceding in their midst on their behalf. We can see how Christ, who never sinned, identified with his people by coming to earth, knowing our infirmities, and providing intercession in our time of need (Hebrews 4:14-16).
Fasting tunes one in to the sins of our people, and helps us intercede for them.
Read through John 2:
- What was the point of Jesus changing the water into wine (John 2:1-11)?
- Why did Jesus not entrust himself to those who surrounded him and “believed in him” (John 2:23-25)?
In other news…
- Mark Combs made a video about the upcoming Summit Community Church Vision Night on Tuesday, January 18 at the Perry County Public Library in Hazard. Take a look!
- We hope you can make it to the Trinidad Missions Lunch after church on Sunday, January 16th. Trinidad Missions Team, we’ll have our first meeting on Saturday, January 15th at 10:00 pm. We’ll discuss passports, airline tickets, and vaccinations–as well as the missions lunch!
- Sunday is Sanctity of Life Sunday. Check out what our Kentucky Senate approved recently: http://www.kbcpublicaffairs.org/2011/01/07/full-senate-approves-ultrasound-bill/ . This is a start!