“The people of Israel, including the priests and the Levites, have not kept themselves separate from the neighboring peoples with their detestable practices.” Ezra 9:1
The issue of intermarriage between God’s people, Israel, and the surrounding nations is presented to Ezra. His immediate response to this corporate sin, of which he was not a part, was mourning and then prayer. It was only after this time of public mourning and prayer that Ezra and the people acted. The people initiated the response and the reform as a result of God working through Ezra’s prayer. The people said to Ezra, “Rise up; this matter is in your hands. We will support you, so take courage and do it.” (10:4)
How do we respond today when sin grips the church? How do we respond when we become aware of sin in our own life? This revival began with Ezra! He prayed; he confessed the sin of the people. Even though he himself was not guilty of this specific sin, he identified himself with the sin of the people, not holding himself above them: “I am too ashamed and disgraced to lift up my face to you, my God, because our sins are higher than our heads and our guilt has reached to the heavens.” (9:6)
Ezra provided instruction and example! We need to humbly identify with the sin of God’s people, because truly, none of us is perfect. We all need to experience the grace of Christ!
“We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.” Isaiah 53:6