Ezra 9 begins with Ezra being approached by Israelite officials about the fact that the people of Israel had intermarried with the people of the lands and their abominations. And this passage caught my eye because Ezra was a man who had basically done everything right up to then. He was fearful of God. He delighted in God's Word, he sought to obey God, even when it seemed to put unnecessary delays in the process. And when he hears about the sin of his fellow Israelites, he tears his garment and his cloak and pulled hair from his head and beard. He begins with this, emphasis added.
And we find Ezra isn't the type to stand back and talk about his brothers and sisters in Christ as if they were sinning and he were not, but actually identifies himself with them. He calls their sins his own sins, their punishments and judgments his punishments and judgments. There's no hint of "ok, I've got this right and you guys need to follow me in this," but simply repentance and prayers.
Ezra 9:6 “O my God, I am ashamed and blush to lift my face to you, my God, for our iniquities have risen higher than our heads, and our guilt has mounted up to the heavens. 7 From the days of our fathers to this day we have been in great guilt. And for our iniquities we, our kings, and our priests have been given into the hand of the kings of the lands, to the sword, to captivity, to plundering, and to utter shame, as it is today.
To be honest, I found this particularly convicting. It's been a difficult few weeks with my fellowship and church. I've felt so frustrated and disappointed at the actions of people who seem to not care at all about the community of believers, people who should have known better. And it's been far too easy to just wonder if maybe this fellowship isn't for me, maybe I just don't fit in, maybe the reason no one responds to the invitations put out by me and a few other friends was because this community wasn't for us, that if they didn't care about us, there's no reason why I should care about them. And it's been far too easy to stand back and just talk about it instead of recognizing that "hey, I'm involved in this too, that this sin isn't just their sin, but it's our sin." It's been too easy to want to complain to others instead of bringing it in prayer and repentance to God.
But Ezra presents a more difficult way, a way of faith and obedience. Lord help us all.