Friday, September 18, 2009

Leaders in the Covenant Community

The lesson for September 20, 2009 is "Ezra: A Priest for the People" (Ezra 9:5-11,15). The book of Ezra speaks of God restoring Israel from exile in Babylon. In the earlier chapters, God touched a pagan King who freed captives to return to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple. Decades later, Ezra returned to Jerusalem, commissioned to ensure that the laws of God were being followed and to teach the laws to those who did not know them. Ezra learned that the nation had disobeyed God’s commandment not to mingle with the people of adjacent lands, and had intermarried. The priests and other leaders had done the same. Ezra confessed this sin before God. He went before God in the most humble manner, in intercessory prayer for the nation. He acknowledged the magnitude of the sins of Israel and how God had continued to show mercy to them, even while in captivity. Like Ezra, we need to pray for the sins of our nation. We live in a world surrounded by immoral living and unsaved individuals. Each of us should make it our responsibility to be examples and let the world see Jesus in our lives. Then God will present us with opportunities to share the Word with those that don’t know Him.

1 comment:

searching said...

I went to the nursing home to see my aunt after church today. She wanted to go to the church services at the nursing home. The visiting pastor was teaching about Ezra. But he told the residents of the home that Ezra realized his sins and repented. The pastor dwelt on that theme, stating that the Bible did not state what the sin was for which he repented. I was upset. Here I had the opportunity to minister. But Mom and I looked at each other and we knew it was not the perfect opportunity. The residents trusted their pastor. They did not know me. They did not have Bibles to know that the sin of the Israelites was stated. They only had copies of the lesson text. They needed Ezra 9:1,2 to see that the people of Israel had taken the people of the conquered land to be their mates against the commandment of God. For this reason Ezra was so ashamed that he had torn his clothes. He prayed and acknowledged God's grace and mercy because God knew about their disobedience. But Ezra never repented for himself. Perhaps it may be perceived that he repented on behalf of Israel in verse 15, (Ezra 9:15). 'O Lord God of Israel, thou art righteous; for we remain yet escaped, as it is this day. Behold, we are before thee in our trespasses; for we cannot stand before thee because of this.