I’m knowing God has a plan, but that doesn’t mean I understand all parts of how we got from there to here. He reminds us we are on a “needs to know basis” – meaning we will learn and discern only more and more closely walking with Him.
I’m reading through the old testament and God clearly called individuals but also whole communities. One part that Ezra, priest and organizer for returning to Jerusalem, brought to everyone’s attention was how they disobeyed God. And he wept SO LOUD that the ones gathering around him wept too. They promised to work together to REPENT and REPAIR the disobedience. And they sat in the RAIN. And because of that rain, they asked to organize how their local officials and household heads, could take the time to do this sorting out in an organization fashion…
The crowd (in the rain) was urged COURAGE to do what was right in God’s eyes. God had asked Israelites to worship Him, and not marry into pagen, false idol worshiping families. There was not a bloodline issue as much as a drifting issue, if God’s people started to worship other gods, they couldn’t walk so close to God. And God wanted them (AND US) to walk CLOSE…
AMAZING, but not surprised that my little Bible devotion book (Jesus Calling) for today’s date states scriptures about WALKING WITH GOD.
“But in spite of this, there is still hope for Israel. Now let us make a covenant before our God…”
The people told Ezra what Ezra was telling them, that there was a HOPE, that God in His mercy (not leniency) would bring forth an answer to the unfaithfulness issue, a Savior, One from the line of David to restore the Kingdom. THE PEOPLE PRAYED TOGETHER about this and renewed their covenant and sacrifices. The people took the issue into their workload rather than Ezra having to do an impossible job so quickly. (We also need to pray together and support our leaders: priest and pastors, teachers and each other. Witnesses with workers. Hope in hopeful hearts).
The people had a tough time sticking with the old covenant and so do we (all those 10 commandments and more) thus God raised a NEW COVENANT for them and for us, a NEW Promise. Not leniency but grace and mercy.
The end of Ezra’s chapter says they are going to work on reorganizing and repenting. We don’t know yet in this part of the story how it turned out for each family but we do know for us, because we have read ahead and we have lived ahead into that Promise that Ezra hoped for… We know that the Promise did come, out of Judah from the line of King David… That Promise WAS and IS Jesus.
Ezra, Ezra, What’s to know ?
Jesus was coming. He came.
Walk with Him.
That’s a TRUTH we know.
While Ezra was praying and confessing, weeping and throwing himself down before the house of God, a large crowd of Israelites—men, women and children—gathered around him. They too wept bitterly. Then Shekaniah son of Jehiel, one of the descendants of Elam, said to Ezra, “We have been unfaithful to our God by marrying foreign women from the peoples around us. But in spite of this, there is still hope for Israel. Now let us make a covenant before our God to send away all these women and their children, in accordance with the counsel of my lord and of those who fear the commands of our God. Let it be done according to the Law. Rise up; this matter is in your hands. We will support you, so take courage and do it.”
So Ezra rose up and put the leading priests and Levites and all Israel under oath to do what had been suggested. And they took the oath. Then Ezra withdrew from before the house of God and went to the room of Jehohanan son of Eliashib. While he was there, he ate no food and drank no water, because he continued to mourn over the unfaithfulness of the exiles.
A proclamation was then issued throughout Judah and Jerusalem for all the exiles to assemble in Jerusalem. Anyone who failed to appear within three days would forfeit all his property, in accordance with the decision of the officials and elders, and would himself be expelled from the assembly of the exiles.
Within the three days, all the men of Judah and Benjamin had gathered in Jerusalem. And on the twentieth day of the ninth month, all the people were sitting in the square before the house of God, greatly distressed by the occasion and because of the rain. Then Ezra the priest stood up and said to them, “You have been unfaithful; you have married foreign women, adding to Israel’s guilt. Now honor the Lord, the God of your ancestors, and do his will. Separate yourselves from the peoples around you and from your foreign wives.”
The whole assembly responded with a loud voice: “You are right! We must do as you say. But there are many people here and it is the rainy season; so we cannot stand outside. Besides, this matter cannot be taken care of in a day or two, because we have sinned greatly in this thing. Let our officials act for the whole assembly. Then let everyone in our towns who has married a foreign woman come at a set time, along with the elders and judges of each town, until the fierce anger of our God in this matter is turned away from us.” Only Jonathan son of Asahel and Jahzeiah son of Tikvah, supported by Meshullam and Shabbethai the Levite, opposed this.
So the exiles did as was proposed. Ezra the priest selected men who were family heads, one from each family division, and all of them designated by name. On the first day of the tenth month they sat down to investigate the cases, and by the first day of the first month they finished dealing with all the men who had married foreign women.