Lent Devotional: Ezra 9:6-15
by Jonathan Haefs
Ezra 9:6-15 (click here)
And after all that has come upon us for our evil deeds and for our great guilt, seeing that you, our God, have punished us less than our iniquities deserved and have given us such a remnant as this, shall we break your commandments again and intermarry with the peoples who practice these abominations? Would you not be angry with us until you consumed us, so that there should be no remnant, nor any to escape? O LORD, the God of Israel, you are just, for we are left a remnant that has escaped, as it is today. Behold, we are before you in our guilt, for none can stand before you because of this. (Ezra 9:13-15)
I remember four-year-old Levi calling out those words in the middle of a restaurant. He had stuck his pointer finger through the slits in the lid of his cup… you know the ones cut for a straw to poke through. The real problem was that the lid was made of hard plastic, thus it was extremely inflexible.
I only had two options. Cut the lid to get his finger our… or pull really hard, knowing his finger would get cut in the process.
Have I told you that I’m a horrible parent? I chose the latter option.
Tears ensued, but I thought, “Hey… at least he won’t do it again… lesson learned.” Yeah… I still had a lot to learn about children.
You guessed it… he did it again. After all the pain he had been through the first time around, you would think he would have learned… but here he was again… stuck and in need of saving from his father.
In the book of Ezra, the Israelites look a lot like four-year-old Levi. Because of their sinful rebellion, God has sent them into exile. They got stuck in their sin and God pulled them out of their land… and it was painful.
But now… a remnant has returned and begun to rebuild. Surely they would not make the same mistake again. Yeah… I have a lot to learn about the hearts of people.
You guessed it… the Israelites rebelled again. This time by intermarrying with pagan peoples. The problem was not a race issue, but a sin issue. God had told them not to intermarry with people who did not share their faith in the one true God, for such marriages would surely lead them astray. And they did. And here they were again, stuck in their sin.
How often is this us? How fickle and prone to wander can our hearts be? We know the pain that sin brings, and yet time and time again… I know that I go in for a repeat of the hurt. I find myself crying out, “I’m stuck!”
But the good news of the Gospel is that we have a father who is not a horrible parent! We have a loving father, who sent his son to take on the pain of our sin in our place. He did so in the power of the Holy Spirit… and our triune God saved us from all our sin… with all its repetition… it all fell on him!
And now he empowers us in the fight against sin by the very same Spirit that empowered Jesus to and through the cross! Romans 8:11, “If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.”
We are no longer stuck! We’ve been set free, and now we are empowered to live free! Today… when you face temptations to run back into sin… trust in the Spirit that lives in you and be empowered to walk, not in sin, but in freedom. Fight sin by the power of the Spirit!
May the cry our heart transform from “I’m stuck” to “I’m free!”