by: Peter Alcivar
Ezra 9:3-4 (NLT) When I heard this, I tore my cloak and my shirt, pulled hair from my head and beard, and sat down utterly shocked. Then all who trembled at the words of the God of Israel came and sat with me because of this outrage committed by the returned exiles. And I sat there utterly appalled until the time of the evening sacrifice.
Ezra was a priest and a scribe that was one of the people that had returned from exile in Babylon to Jerusalem. He had returned to teach the people the laws of God, since it had been quite a while that they had been under foreign rulers. After he had been there a little while, it was discovered that a number of the people, including some priests and Levites, had done something that God specifically prohibited and that had led their predecessors into sin. They had intermarried with the peoples of the land that were not Israelites and had also taken wives for their sons from these godless, foreign people. That led to them worshipping other gods and taking up their heathen practices. They were back on the same road that had led to their demise and to their exile.
Ezra, being a person who loved and reverenced God, was shocked and dismayed when he found out what was going on. He was shaken to his core. He went on to correct the situation with the people but what stands out in this passage of scripture is his deep anguish over the sin of the people. That is something that is lost today. In this day and age, there are all sorts of things going on that not only go against God’s Word but that the Bible also says that God detests, while many who say that they are Christians give their hearty approval to. It is shocking to see Christians that you know applauding things that God says that He hates. Many hide behind the fact that as Christians, we are supposed to love everyone. While that is certainly true, we are never supposed to accept the sin that people are living in or approve of things that are clearly against what the Bible teaches. Rather than being shocked and appalled at the state of affairs in our country and in the Church at large, many Christians have been totally desensitized to what is happening and have taken up worldly causes that promote and celebrate sinful behavior.
God has always called His people to be separate from everyone around them that do not acknowledge Him as the One and only true God. We are called to be difference-makers, being the light of the world and the salt of the earth. We are supposed to “season” (that’s one of the qualities of salt) the culture around us by living godly lives and also light the way for people who are living in darkness. But we can’t do that if we cannot tell the difference between right and wrong as God sees right and wrong. We need to feel some of the shock that Ezra did when he found out how many of the people who had returned to the Promised Land were living. We need to be appalled at the current state of many in the Church and pray to our Heavenly Father so that He will help us to represent Him well, showing people around us the right way to live by the way that we ourselves live. Maybe then we can affect our culture with the light of salvation instead of the culture infecting us with the darkness of death. Stand up and be shocked and appalled at what is going on around you so that you will be motivated to seek God with all of your heart and so that you will be able to make a difference in the world around you.
Pastor Joey Vazquez