Ezra 9:6 “O my God, I am too ashamed and disgraced to lift up my face to you, my God, because our sins are higher than our head and our guilt has reached to the heavens.” (From the prayer of Ezra)
Sometimes good things get messed up! Recently, I took a walk in our local park. I had been sitting at my desk for a number of hours, and my tight muscles suggested I take some time to stretch. As I strolled along the winding path by the creek I quickly realized I needed to pay careful attention to my steps. Ahead of me were at least thirty-five geese lazing in the grass, and strewn around was evidence that they had made this place their home. The grass and path were covered with hardened and fresh droppings making hardly any room for walking. This beautiful setting was certainly messed up!
Ezra Finds Out Good Things Have Gotten Messed Up
Ezra, God’s chosen leader, had led a group of Israelites home to Jerusalem. Their disobedience to God’s law had resulted in their removal from their homes and the exile in Babylon. There was much excitement and joy as the displaced people finally made their way back into the land that God had promised their ancestors. The temple had been rebuilt and dedicated. Many sacrifices had been made and Passover had been celebrated. But Ezra hadn’t been home very long before it came out that some of the good things had gotten messed up.
The resident leaders approached Ezra and gave the bad news that the people, including some of the priests and Levites, had not kept themselves separate from their idol-worshipping neighbors. In fact, a number of them had intermarried and started families despite God’s clear command to remain detached. These foreign marriages had caused many to walk a path polluted by the corruption of detestable practices.
Ezra was devastated by this news. Tearing his clothes and pulling hair from his head and beard, he bowed down before the Lord in grief. God in His mercy had given the people of Israel a second chance after their great unfaithfulness by restoring them to their promised land. But now they were again headed down the same path of disobedience.
Dealing With the Consequences of Sin
The people gathered around their weeping leader and were soon convicted of their great sin. Deciding to make things right, they agreed to put away the foreign wives who did not follow their God. Despite the great agony of broken relationships, these men made amends and committed to doing the right thing before God.
Today God’s people can also find themselves in the midst of a lot of muck. Good things get messed up when we or others around us choose to disobey God’s commands. Often the consequences of sin are very difficult. But there is a way through the mess we have made.
God is always ready to hear the confession of a grieved heart, and a change of action is what proves a change of heart.Humbly ask for forgiveness, change your actions, and despite the difficulty it might entail God promises to respond. When good things get messed up He will still hear. He will always forgive. And He can redeem those who call and turn from their wicked ways.