Ezra 10 – There is Still Hope
This chapter begins with a beautiful picture of repentance.
“While Ezra prayed and confessed, weeping and falling facedown before the house of God, an extremely large assembly of Israelite men, women, and children gathered around him. The people also wept bitterly.” Ezra 10:1
They realized the depravity of their sin, and the impending wrath of God that was building yet again towards them. They risked what few people they had left by their selfish choices.
The beginning of this chapter also speaks of how the Lord can use one man to effect great change. By Ezra weeping, confessing, and repenting to the Lord for the sins of his nation, it moved the hearts of those around him to repentance as well. An obedient and humble heart can create abundant ripples of powerful change for Yahweh.
“Then Shecaniah son of Jehiel, an Elamite, responded to Ezra, “We have been unfaithful to our God by marrying foreign women from the surrounding peoples, but there is still hope for Israel in spite of this.” Ezra 10:2
“But there is still hope!” – There is always hope in the Lord! His grace and forgiveness are powerful. God loves a repentant heart and will forgive any sin.
“Doing what is righteous and just is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice” Proverbs 21:3
A united community is also powerful to effect change. I love how Shecaniah, the Elamite, admonished Ezra forward.
“Therefore, let’s make a covenant before our God to send away all the foreign wives and their children, according to the counsel of my lord and of those who tremble at the command of our God. Let it be done according to the law. 4 Get up, for this matter is your responsibility, and we support you. Be strong and take action!” Ezra 10:3-4
Ezra was strengthened by knowing that the large assembly supported him in this decision. He and others had been reading aloud and teaching the people about the law. They knew the commands and the need to be seen as set apart before the Lord.
My commentary points out that the part of the law Shecaniah might have been referring to is in Deuteronomy 24:1, “If a man marries a woman, but she becomes displeasing to him because he finds something indecent about her, he may write her a divorce certificate, hand it to her, and send her away from his house.”
Her “indecency” would have been worshipping idols and participating in the detestable ways of her culture, with no desire to change, rather than submitting herself to the law and commands of the God of Israel.
This was Ezra’s responsibility because the Persian king had made him governor of the land. It was under his authority to bring this motion into action.
Many times, the Lord challenges and encourages His people in leadership to be strong and courageous.
“Be strong and courageous; don’t be terrified or afraid of them. For the Lord your God is the one who will go with you; he will not leave you or abandon you.” Deuteronomy 31:6
You can boldly move forward in God’s desires because you know He will always be with you, just as He was with Ezra when he and the second group of Israelites returned from Babylon (Ezra 8).
All of the men who took foreign wives were listed at the end of this book. This could look like a publicly shameful account. In a way, it is. However, all of these men repented and gave up their wives and some even their children, in order to make things right with the Lord. So, though this list of over 100 men seems shameful, it’s also a beautiful, hope-filled, grace-covered list of what God can do for those who seek Him.
Have people known about your sinful ways? Have you ever been publicly shamed for it? It can feel humiliating and debilitating. However, God can wipe the sin, fear, and shame away that attaches to the sin. No sin is too great. God can change any willing heart. He can take what’s broken and make it beautiful. You’re never too far from God’s grace. Like Ezra, come to the Lord with your lament. Confess your sin, share your love for God and who He is, then trust Him to restore that which was broken.
When I see that final list, I see courageous, repentant men, who loved the Lord and wanted to surrender their ways for His. I see a fresh start for them. They learned a lesson in humility, which would have been very difficult, especially because a lot of them were leaders. However, they learned the grace, love, and power of God even more.
Trust the Lord with your heart. Don’t fear coming to Him. He loves you.