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April 24, 2024 - Ezra 7-10

After the completion of the temple, “Ezra came up from Babylon.  He was a teacher well versed in the Law of Moses, which the Lord, the God of Israel, had given.  The king had granted him everything he asked, for the hand of the Lord his God was on him” (7:6).  This Ezra “devoted himself to the study and observance of the Law of the Lord, and to teaching its decrees and laws in Israel” (7:10).  Many families returned with Ezra, and they brought gifts and sacrifices for the temple.  Surely, with the restoration of the people back in the land and the completion of the temple, all was well.  Not.

 

It was reported to Ezra, “The people of Israel, including the priests and the Levites, have not kept themselves separate from the neighboring peoples with their detestable practices” (9:1).  Moses had warned Israel about this:  “When you enter the land the Lord your God is giving you, do not learn to imitate the detestable ways of the nations there. . . . You must be blameless before the Lord your God” (Deuteronomy 18:9-13).  Ezra, seeing the unfaithfulness of the people, prayed, confessed, wept, and threw himself down.  A large crowd gathered with him and “They too wept bitterly” (10:1).  I’m not sure if the people’s tears were “crocodile tears,” but it is always good to weep over sin and to turn back to God.  The trick is to continue in that.  Here’s the good news:  “For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin--because anyone who has died has been set free from sin” (Romans 6:6-7).

 

Steadily onward! O turn not aside,

Steadily, steadily on!

Upward and onward whatever betide,

Steadily, steadily on!

Jesus will help you to walk in His way,

Guiding your feet lest they wander astray,

Ever be ready to hear and obey—

Steadily, steadily on.   -- Carrie Ellis Breck (1898)

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