SAY WHAT? (What is the passage saying?)
- In chapter 9 we saw Ezra express great sorrow and repentance over the sins of the Israelites, specifically that they had married people outside of their faith, something God had repeatedly and strictly forbidden. Ezra had not committed this sin, but he was still broken over it (verse 1).
- Ezra's sorrow over sin leads a "very large crowd" of people to (finally) have sorrow over their sin (verse 1).
- A leader named Shecaniah declares that the people will make it right by the husbands sending away their wives from other faiths. This pertained to 113 of the approximately 29,000 families.
- The people confess their sins to God, and then take action in keeping with their repentance (verses 10-17).
- Ezra didn't tell the people to feel sorrow for their sins; he felt sorrow. He didn't tell the people to repent; he repented. Typically, the most effective way to lead is not to tell others what to do, but to lead by example.
- Sending away their wives and children is obviously extreme, but these women worshipped false gods. God's people had lose their spiritual identity and purity because of these intermarriages, and their identity and purity needed to be restored. Commitment to God and holiness are higher values to God, and should be to us, than the things that we consider valuable.
- Confession is not just telling God what we've done wrong; it's agreeing with God about what we've done wrong. We need to confess our sins to God, but confession is not the end. True confession always leads to repentance, to a change of heart and a change of behavior.
NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
- When you want others to change, do you tell them, or find ways to lead by example? Who is someone you have some influence on right now? (Perhaps your child, or someone at work?) How could you set an example you would want them to follow?
- How committed are you to living a pure and holy life for God? What do you think is more important than that? Realize that ultimately God's values are the correct one's, and your life will be better now, and you will be much happier later, if you live by His values. Living by His values means being committed to living a holy life, and confessing and repenting of your sin when you miss the mark.