Once Ezra and his compatriots arrived back home, they found things “worse” than they had ever imagined!
The sin of intermarriage (the Jews with the heathen all around them) was rampant!
Apparently idolatry was still in vogue, as well.
The one sin invariably led to the other in ancient Israel.
Ezra immediately learned … “The people of Israel, and the priests, and the Levites, have not separated themselves from the people of the lands, doing according to their abominations, even of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Jebusites, the Ammonites, the Moabites, the Egyptians, and the Amorites. For they have taken of their daughters for themselves, and for their sons (intermarriage with the wicked): so that the holy seed have mingled themselves with the people of those lands: yea, the hand of the princes and rulers hath been chief in this trespass.” Back to Ezra 9:1-2, a blatant lack of separation!
And (spiritually sensitive) Ezra is stunned by the severity of the situation. “And when I heard this thing, I rent my garment and my mantle, and plucked off the hair of my head and of my beard, and sat down astonied. Then were assembled unto me every one that trembled at the words of the God of Israel, because of the transgression of those that had been carried away; and I sat astonied until the evening sacrifice. 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 our head, and our trespass is grown up unto the heavens.” Ezra 9:3-6
The RIGHT WAY to respond to sin!
“We have forsaken thy commandments, which thou hast commanded by thy servants the prophets, saying: The land, unto which ye go to possess it, is an unclean land with the filthiness of the people of the lands, with their abominations, which have filled it from one end to another with their uncleanness. Now therefore give not your daughters unto their sons, neither take their daughters unto your sons.” Verses 10-12, in part anyway.
These very violations are WHY God sent Judah into (Babylonian) Captivity in the first place! And Ezra returns (after that 70 year Captivity) only to find the same sins still being perpetrated?
And now we are nearing the “clause” that constitutes the “core” of today’s lesson. Still Ezra taking: “And after all that is come upon us for our evil deeds, and for our great trespass, seeing that thou our God hast punished us less than our iniquities deserve, and hast given us such deliverance as this; should we again break thy commandments, and join in affinity with the people of these abominations? wouldest not thou be angry with us till thou hadst consumed us, so that there should be no remnant nor escaping?” Verses 13-14, still Ezra chapter 9.
“Should Judah persist in these abominable sins, might not God wipe her off the face of the earth?” So (correctly)reasoned Ezra.
But did you note the words … “our God hast punished us less than our iniquities deserve” … Ezra prayed to God, or spoke concerning God?
“Thou hast punished us LESS that our iniquities deserved!
But I suspect, when dealing with his own children (believers in Him) … God nearly ALWAYS chastens and disciplines us LESS than our sins deserve!
It is just a token of His grace!
2nd Timothy 2:13 … “If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself.”
Or Romans 5:20 … “Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound.”
As described in Habakkuk 3:2, God had once again “in wrath remembered mercy!”
Lamentations 3:22 … “It is of the LORD’S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not.”
Psalm 103:10 … “He (the Lord) hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.” Due to His great mercy, His leniency!
“Less than we deserve!”
Think about it today.
All the while remembering how our sin(s) deeply grieve the heart of the God we love.
— Dr. Mike Bagwell
A vainly PROUD Ezra would have minimized the violations Judah had committed.
But our HUMBLE Ezra said: “Our God has punished us less than our iniquities deserve.”