After these things had been done, the leaders came to me and said, “The people of Israel, including the priests and the Levites, have not kept themselves separate from the neighboring peoples with their detestable practices, like those of the Canaanites, Hittites, Perizzites, Jebusites, Ammonites, Moabites, Egyptians and Amorites. 2 They have taken some of their daughters as wives for themselves and their sons, and have mingled the holy race with the peoples around them. And the leaders and officials have led the way in this unfaithfulness.” 3 When I heard this, I tore my tunic and cloak, pulled hair from my head and beard and sat down appalled. 4 Then everyone who trembled at the words of the God of Israel gathered around me because of this unfaithfulness of the exiles. And I sat there appalled until the evening sacrifice.
The scripture continues with the prayer of God's prophet, Ezera. Then, at the evening sacrifice, I rose from my self-abasement, with my tunic and cloak torn, and fell on my knees with my hands spread out to the Lord my God 6 and prayed: “I am too ashamed and disgraced, my God, to lift up my face to you, because our sins are higher than our heads and our guilt has reached to the heavens. 7 From the days of our ancestors until now, our guilt has been great. Because of our sins, we and our kings and our priests have been subjected to the sword and captivity, to pillage and humiliation at the hand of foreign kings, as it is today.
Could things be worse than this? Wouldn't it be understandable if God completely dismissed these people as a lost cause because of their continued unfaithfulness? Aren't we glad God has not written us off as a lost cause because of our sins?
The key to all of this is seen in the very nature of God. Yes, his wrath was stirred because they were not obedient to him. But in spite of their unfaithful ways, God loved them. That love is shown in the verses that follow.
“But now, for a brief moment, the Lord our God has been gracious in leaving us a remnant and giving us a firm place in his sanctuary, and so our God gives light to our eyes and a little relief in our bondage. 9 Though we are slaves, our God has not forsaken us in our bondage. He has shown us kindness in the sight of the kings of Persia: He has granted us new life to rebuild the house of our God and repair its ruins, and he has given us a wall of protection in Judah and Jerusalem."
Look again at the verses to see the blessings God's love provided for them.....and for us.
1. A firm place in his sanctuary.
2 Light to our eyes.
3. Relief in our bondage.
4. Kindness in the sight of our aggressors
5. New life so we can rebuild and repair.
6. A wall of protection.
Thanks be to God for his unending love.