And at the evening sacrifice I arose up from my heaviness; and having rent my garment and my mantle, I fell upon my knees, and spread out my hands unto the LORD my God, And said, O my God, I am ashamed and blush to lift up my face to thee, my God: for our iniquities are increased over ourhead, and our trespass is grown up unto the heavens.
Yesterday, we talked about being prepared and performing to the best of our ability for the task at hand. If we have done due diligence and acted accordingly to it, we will be blameless in the outcome. Sometimes, however, unexpected events interrupt our plan for how things should transpire. We can be fully prepared for a golf tournament and have our swing in perfect form, but the weather turns and forces us to play in windy or rainy conditions. Ezra was a scribe fully skilled in the law of Moses. The king of Babylon granted Ezra and anyone who wanted to go with him permission to return to Israel to teach the people the law. Ezra did not request soldiers or horsemen for protection from enemies, but he stopped to fast and pray for God’s protection during the journey. All was going according to plan until he received word that many of the priests, Israelites and Levites had mixed themselves and married those from the other areas. This occurrence greatly troubled Ezra and he immediately repented to God for the sinful actions of the people. Most of the guilty saw and heard the broken heartedness of Ezra. This resulted in them confessing their sins and renewing their covenant with God. Accordingly, they pledged to put away their wives and offered a ram as a guilt offering. Many times, the supervening event or condition is not our own fault, just as Ezra was not guilty of the sin of intermarriage. However, he took the burden of the sin upon himself. Ezra was so touched by the sin and the hurt it must have caused God, he immediately fasted and prayed. When life gets in the way of our plans, it is helpful for us to do the same. Prayer is the answer for any situation, but it is sometimes helpful to separate ourselves from the noise of the world for a period of time. Eliminating this distraction allows us to see more clearly the impact of our actions or the actions of others. Additionally, we need to be burdened by the sins of those around us. When we come to God with an earnest heart in prayer for people, the guilty parties will be touched by our caring attitude. They will appreciate this approach instead of going to them in a spirit of judgment.