Throughout the book of Ezra we see this progression of the Israelites being scattered throughout the world to returning home to Jerusalem. It wasn’t a one stop coming home. There were multiple steps that they took to come home. The steps we see in todays reading are confusing and very hard to understand, especially in todays culture.
“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.
“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.
Lord, the God of Israel, you are righteous! We are left this day as a remnant. Here we are before you in our guilt, though because of it not one of us can stand in your presence.””Ezra 9:1, 6, 15 NIV
The result? The step they took? They abandoned their foreign wives and children. How heartbreaking!! As I sit in my comfortable air conditioning I am appalled that this was the resolution. I don’t get it!
God! How do we reconcile the way towards redemption and right relationship with you that the Israelites had to follow?
People who are way smarter than me will have studied and have a better answer than I. Where I have landed is…our sin is great and requires a great work to restore us into right relationship with God.
In our time…that great work was the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. We live in the grace and mercy of Jesus and therefore do not have to achieve the righteousness in the same way as the Israelites. I am called to recognize by sin but not live in it. I don’t live in a state of shame but a state of gratefulness and grace and mercy. I am so grateful for Jesus work because I am so aware of my desperate need for it!
I don’t know what to do with the abandonment of wives and children. What I will focus on is how desperate I am in need of the saving and restoring work of Jesus and how beautiful and amazing it is!!
Dear God, thank you for being greater and wiser than me. In my confusion I choose to believe that you are good. In my lack of understanding I choose to believe that you are in control. Help me continue to focus on you and my relationship with you. Amen.