Looking for Ezras

June 16, 2008 at 1:32 pm | Posted in Christianity | Leave a comment
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I was reading a section of scripture last night that got me thinking about something. The passage that I read was Ezra 6-10. In it, the Israelites are coming out of captivity and returning to Jerusalem. As they return to their homeland and begin to resettle, something is brought to Ezra’s attention that causes him to tear his garments and weep for Israel. The leaders of Israel come to Ezra and tell him:

 

“The people of Israel and the priests and the Levites have not separated themselves from the peoples of the lands, according to their abominations, those of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Jebusites, the Ammonites, the Moabites, the Egyptians and the Amorites. For they have taken some of their daughters as wives for themselves and for their sons, so that the holy race has intermingled with the peoples of the lands; indeed, the hands of the princes and the rulers have been foremost in this unfaithfulness.”

Ezra’s response is to tear his garment, pull out some of his hair and sit appalled (stunned/devastated). Scripture says that everyone who trembled at the word of God sat with him. They did this until the evening offering. At the time of the evening offering, Ezra gets on his knees before the Lord and prays. In his prayer he expresses embarrassment and shame in regard to the way the leaders of Israel have acted. He cries out because of the guilt of iniquity that Israel still walks in. The people who feel the same as Ezra gather with him weeping as well. They then decide to call an assembly in Jerusalem. This assembly was mandatory and would result in being cut off if you didn’t show up. They gathered in the open square before the house of God in heavy rain trembling in fear of God. Ezra then stands up before the people of Israel and tells them that they have added to the guilt of Israel by disobeying God and marrying foreign wives. He calls them to take an oath and to separate themselves from the peoples of the land and from their foreign wives. The assembly responds in agreement, recognizing their lsin and takes the oath. The ask for time due to conditions, but desire to do so in order to turn away the “fierce anger” of God. The end of Ezra 10 then goes on to list the names of the priests, singers, Levites, and the people who had married foreign wives.

After reading this, I couldn’t help but wonder if God is looking for Ezra’s today? Today, God’s people are just as guilty of marrying “foreign wives” as the Israelites were then. The church has polluted the gospel, changed the way of salvation, put themselves in place of God, and gone off to chase other “gods”. If God had “fierce anger” toward Israel for marrying foreign wives then, how much angrier is God now at His people? It still amazes me how we can claim Christ as Savior and then completely disregard everything that He’s commanded us to do. I am appalled at the way people in the church ignore God’s commandments and His anger and still seek His blessing. We have people who claim to be Christians calling on people to get in touch with “Mother Earth”. Others are taking tenets of other faiths and trying to make them fit into Christianity. Still others are preaching a gospel that has nothing to do with Christ or His purpose for coming to earth. Instead they replace Christ with love, money, or self. Shouldn’t God be angry? Should we be surprised that His wrath is building and beginning to pour out on our nation and others? When those who are “leaders” in the church take the precious gospel of our Lord and make it a mockery, what else should we expect?

One of the most appalling things of all of this is the fact that these “leaders” have no shame! They have absolutely no care in the world that they are misrepresenting Christ and misleading thousands. They don’t care that their iniquity is a foul stench in the nostrils of God. They have no real concern for the truth being preached or people actually getting saved, as long as their churches are packed, they wallets are full, and what they believe is spread as far as they can take it, they’re satisfied. Nevermind that it’s not the truth. Nevermind the fact that it’s not the gospel that saves. Nevermind that people are being made comfortable while going straight to hell. None of that matters. There is no guilt, shame, or embarrassment from these men and women. They are “successful” and that’s all that matters. Sure, it’s success in the eyes of the world, but it’s what matters.

The body of Christ needs Ezras who are ashamed and embarrassed by where the church has gotten to and are willing to call God’s people back to scriptural living. They need to have God’s understanding of His Word and be willing to weep and grieve for this ongoing tragedy. They also need to be willing to stand up and speak out against this horrible façade, naming names if necessary. Some people may read this and think that I’m talking about a new ministry focused on “turning peoples’ hearts back to God”. Nope. That’s not what I’m talking about. To be completely honest, I’m tired of ministries. We have way too many “ministries” run by people who just want to accomplish their own agenda under the guise of Christianity. This isn’t to say that there aren’t legitimate ministries out there. I know of many who are truly doing the things that need to be done. There are many, many more however, that do nothing but inflate egos, stuff pocketbooks, and accomplish absolutely nothing for God. We don’t need that.

What we need is for the people of God to be willing to be made horribly uncomfortable (even if it means sitting in a downpour) and to see their iniquity for what it is. We need to be willing to stop “graying” the issues and start calling things as black and white when they are. We need to start living our lives the way God wants us to, instead of living them the way that we want and then hoping God will bless us. We need the body of Christ to recommit to separate themselves from the “people of the land” and to stop marrying foreign wives. We need to recognize that God is fiercely angry with us for what we have failed to do and to renew our oath to be obedient to Him. We need to “make confession before God and do His will”…

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