“And at the evening sacrifice, I rose from my fasting with my garment and my cloak torn and fell upon my knees and spread out my hands to the Lord my God, saying, ‘O my God, I am ashamed and blush to lift my face to you.'”
– Ezra 9:5–6
The verses right before this talk about how Ezra hears the Word of God. He’s trembling at the words of God, and how he and the people of God and even, not just in his own life, or the people in that day, but the people of God in the days leading up to that day, his predecessors among God’s people, how they had turned from God’s Word, how they were not obeying God’s Word.
What a powerful picture of a humble, right, contrite response to the Word of God and conviction about sin in your own life individually and in the lives of the people of God around you.
He hears these words from God. He’s convicted about sin in his life and the lives of the people of God around him. Then he rises from his fasting, which we had talked about and prayed according to yesterday in Ezra 8, with his garment and cloak torn, and he falls on his knees, spreads his hands out before God, and just starts to pray, “O God, I’m ashamed, and blush to lift my face to you.”
A Picture of Humility
What a powerful picture of a humble, right, contrite response to the Word of God and conviction about sin in your own life individually and in the lives of the people of God around you. There’s a weeping and a mourning over sin here. I read this, and I just think, how long has it been since I, since you, responded to God’s Word like this, with conviction over sin in our hearts and our lives, and not just our own individual hearts and lives, but conviction over sin in the people of God around us, to the point where we’re just on our faces, weeping before God, asking, pleading for His mercy and His grace in our lives and among God’s people.
I mean, we see this all over the Old Testament and New Testament, but this picture of God being glorified and honored when His people hate sin and mourn over it and weep over it and fall on their faces before God, pleading for His mercy and grace and His forgiveness and receiving it, by the way. Then we know, First John 1:9, “When we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
I think about a conference where I was at recently, Passion, where a stadium full of 55,000-60,000, 18- to 25-year-olds. Jennie Allen led them to just turn to each other and confess sin and pray for each other. It was powerful. God is glorified and we are edified. We’re drawn closer to Him when we take sin seriously in our lives.
Ezra 9:5–6 Reminds Us to Ask God for Help
We pray, God, help us, in light of Ezra 9:5–6, to respond to Your Word rightly and contritely and appropriately. God, we pray that, as we read and study Your Word, when we come together in churches, God, we pray that You would help us, by Your Spirit, to experience right brokenness and contrition over sin. Oh God, we pray that You’d bring us to our faces before You in confession and conviction and agreement with You about sin in our lives and sin among us, as the people of God, that we would turn from it, God, with humility based upon Your mercy.
God, we praise You for Your willingness to forgive us. Help us not to hide sin, as if we can hide it from You, but not to hide it, try to hide it, from You or from one another. God, help us to be faithful in confession of sin, to respond to conviction of Your Spirit in our hearts. Oh God, we pray that in all this You would draw us into deeper intimacy with You, as we experience Your grace and we walk in honesty before You and humility before You.
God, we pray for the spirit of Ezra in Ezra 9:4–5, to mark our lives and our churches. We pray in Jesus’ name, the name of the One who makes forgiveness, cleansing, and restoration possible. In Jesus’ name, Amen.