Highlights In Today's Reading:
Disregard for the One True God and our Word by the Israelites calls for extreme measures to achieve reconciliation with God.
The great plan of redemption, from the first promise of God in the Garden of Eden down through history to the Cross, all centers around Christ who sacrificed for our sins.
Ezra's great sorrow over their sins drove him to intense prayer — weeping and casting himself down (10:1). Ezra's deep grief and the willing submission of the majority of the nation's leaders and people were exceedingly important from a national point of view. Ezra the priest stood up, and said unto them, Ye have transgressed, and have taken strange (idol worshipping) wives, to increase the trespass (guilt) of Israel (10:10). The Israelites had put away their strange idol worshipping wives in order for the fierce wrath of our God . . . to be turned from them (10:14).
Are we prone to treat as unimportant the guilt of sin? Some will even confess their sins without intending to forsake them. What a delusion! Yet how many are there who have knelt to pray and found a certain satisfaction for their conscience in the mere repetition of the cry: "O God, forgive me, a miserable sinner?"
Every Christian should realize the vital importance of prayer, whether of repentance, praise, or petition. We should not take God's protection and blessings for granted. As we pray in faith and receive answers to our prayers, our faith grows and we are encouraged to pray even more — even when we do not recognize any answer to our prayers.
The restoration of the Temple and true worship of Jehovah, as well as the separation of the people from worldliness and heathen idolatry, were indispensable conditions through which God would preserve His people or answer their prayers. Their descendants might follow properly but, above all, the line through which the Messiah would come had to be preserved in the chosen tribe.
No sin is so great but that all God's love and mercy will be lavished upon the sinner who sincerely repents of his sin. Even if one's sin is so great as to give great occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme as David did. Sincere prayer of repentance restores our relationship with God. Let no sin drive you to despair, but to your knees, thankful that godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation (II Corinthians 7:10).
Paul said: This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am Chief (I Timothy 1:15).
Thought for Today:
Do we grieve over our sin as Ezra did or do we take for granted the mercies of God?
Through the ram (male sheep) offered for the offenses of the sons of the priests (Ezra 10:19). Christ offered Himself up for the sins and offenses of all mankind. He is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him, seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them (Hebrews 7:25).
10:1 very sore => bitterly; 10:2 strange => foreign; 10:8 substance => property; 10:13 without => outside; 10:15 were employed about => were opposed to; 10:19 gave their hands => promised, vowed.
Pray for English International Shortwave Radio Broadcasts sponsored by Caroline Lohmeyer • Staff: Barbara Bivens • Country: Sierra Leone (5 million) in western Africa • Major language: English • Increasing restrictions on Christian work in some areas • 50% belief in river spirits, medicine men, and witchcraft; 39% Muslim; 7% Protestant; 2% Roman Catholic • Prayer Suggestion: Give thanks always for fellow Christians (II Thessalonians 2:13-14).
Optional Reading: 2 Corinthians 7
Memory Verse for the Week: 2 Corinthians 1:5