Daily Readings and Thought for November 14th. “I AM ASHAMED AND BLUSH”
In ancient times every city had walls to keep out the enemies; if you know where to look you will find remnants of them preserved in nearly every old city in England. Now the Jews first task on returning from captivity had been to rebuild the Temple: this, after hindrances lasting some years, they achieved. But their vision of their responsibility as the people of the living God was limited; it had been focused simply on rebuilding of the Temple.
Today, in completing reading the book of Ezra we learn that the lack of city walls had allowed easy access to another kind of enemy – and Ezra’s heart is broken when he realizes this after arriving. He makes an impassioned prayer to God about the damage this enemy had done.
But it is not physical damage. “I rose from fasting” Ezra writes, “with my garment and cloak torn, and fell upon my knees and spread out my hands to the Lord my God saying, O my God, I am ashamed and blush to lift my face to you …” [9 v.5,6]
It is evident his actions are in public for “Ezra prayed and made confession, weeping and casting himself down before the house of God and a very great assembly.” [10 v.1] The exiles that had returned had freely mixed with the idol worshipping people of the land and many marriages with them had recently taken place. Their spiritual integrity was seriously compromised. This final chapter gives details of a great effort to change this.
Now we do not have city walls, but we need the same spiritual awareness as Ezra. We need spiritual walls and gates that can be shut. God’s word provides the spiritual defences, but do we know how to use them? A builder can have bricks and mortar, but they are no good unless they are put to use. As we read Paul letter’s yesterday, we saw how we must discern the will of God for us. Ezra saw clearly what God’s will was for him!
It is interesting in the letter the Persian king gave to Ezra [7 v,18] that the king had written, “Whatever seems good to you … you may do according to the will of your God.” Sadly the people had a narrow vision as to what that will was. This is a lesson for us, let us have a wide vision, as from a mountain top, a vision that is the result of really walking with Jesus; then there will be no risk that one day we will be “ashamed and blush”.