First Christian Church
November 21, 2021 2nd Service
      • Bible Trivia
  • Guardian
      • Ephesians 4:31–32CSB

  • Holy Water
      • 1 Corinthians 10:31CSB

  • Made To Worship
      • Ephesians 1:7CSB

  • Graves Into Gardens
    The Temple was completed on March 15, 515 BC.
    The trek that took around 70 plus years was over.
    Thanks to God's plan with the Persian Empire Temple was completed.
    Now what? Is it over?
    Not be a long shot.
    In 458 BC, Ezra, along with some others still in Babylon, arrived in Jerusalem.
    After Ezra arrives in Jerusalem, the leaders come to him with a problem.
    This issue was a significant issue for the Hebrew people throughout the Old Testament and was one of the reasons for the exile in the first place.
    In their comfort and compromise, the Hebrew people forsook what God had commanded.
    One would think God would be furious and ready to see the Nation carted off into exile once again.
    I think we can relate to God on this one.
    Have you ever had someone sin against you? Of course, you have!
    How did you react?
    When they came to you sorry for what they did, and I am not talking about a "sorry I got caught," but they are really sorry and want to make it right, how did you respond?
    Let's flip it around for a moment.
    Have you ever hurt someone in your life?
    What did you want after you realized your wronged them?
    Did you want to be cast aside like yesterday's garbage?
    Did you want to be reminded every day of your life about your mistake?
    Did you want the person you hurt to write you off and be angry at you for the rest of your life, to the point that nothing you know to do is right?
    How do you think God reacts when we come to Him when we have sinned against Him; which, by the way, all sins are sins against God.
    Today we will conclude our series from the book of Ezra with a lesson that is vital for us to comprehend.
    Failure to grasp the concepts we will examine from the text today will cause us to lose heart when we stumble in our walk with God.
    The BIG IDEA to the message today is this: God's unfailing love comes to us when we fail and repent.
    Let's begin our examination together today by turning to Ezra 9:1-3
    Ezra 9:1-5
    Ezra 9:1–5 (CSB)
    1 After these things had been done, the leaders approached me and said, “The people of Israel, the priests, and the Levites have not separated themselves from the surrounding peoples whose detestable practices are like those of the Canaanites, Hethites (HETH ITES), Perizzites (PER I ZITES), Jebusites, Ammonites, Moabites, Egyptians, and Amorites.
    2 Indeed, the Israelite men have taken some of their daughters as wives for themselves and their sons, so that the holy seed has become mixed with the surrounding peoples. The leaders and officials have taken the lead in this unfaithfulness!”
    3 When I heard this report, I tore my tunic and robe, pulled out some of the hair from my head and beard, and sat down devastated.
    4 Everyone who trembled at the words of the God of Israel gathered around me, because of the unfaithfulness of the exiles, while I sat devastated until the evening offering.
    5 At the evening offering, I got up from my time of humiliation, with my tunic and robe torn. Then I fell on my knees and spread out my hands to the Lord my God.

    I. The sin.

    The Temple was a place of worship and sacrifices.
    One thing that tends to happen when our heart is right and when we worship the Lord; we begin to examine ourselves a bit.
    This principle is similar to what Isaiah did when he stood before God; Isaiah felt so unworthy; yet, he wanted to answer God's call to service.
    See, Isaiah did not all of a sudden become a man of unclean lips at the moment, but it was at the moment he stood before God that he realized it.
    It is amazing what happens when we stand before a Holy and Perfect God!
    The Temple had been back in operation for about 57 years, yet the people's sin was still present.
    How do you react to sin, and more importantly, sin in your life?
    Apparently, since the time that the Temple was operational again, the people did nothing!
    When you see sin in a blatant form, it is easy to react.
    We can become sad, angry, confused, and display a variety of emotions.
    Deep down, we know that sin is wrong.
    Whether it's injustice, another crime on the news, or our own vices, we are grieved by sin and evil.
    Sin should cause us to weep.
    Sin should cause us to mourn.
    What injustice, sin, or evil in this world causes you to mourn?
    Jesus promises that "Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted" (Matthew 5:4).
    Upon hearing what was going on in Jerusalem, Ezra reacts.
    Ezra tears his clothes, his hair, his beard and mourns the people's sin.
    Ezra did these things because of the humiliation he felt over the sin of the people.
    For the people, this sin was so close and personal, they chose to ignore the sin, justify the sin until the sin became the way of life.
    We do the same thing today.
    We practice sin for so long that it becomes ingrained into our life and our society.
    When this happens, lovingly speaking out against sin makes you a bad person in the eyes of society.
    Ok. The sin has now been exposed to Ezra, so what is next? Should Ezra ignore it?
    When we are in the face of sin, what should we do?
    Look at verse 4 again.
    Ezra 9:4 (CSB)
    4 Everyone who trembled at the words of the God of Israel gathered around me, because of the unfaithfulness of the exiles, while I sat devastated until the evening offering.
    Notice in verse four, only those who were convicted (trembled at the words of God) that what was going was sin gathered around Ezra.
    Ezra is brokenhearted over the situation.
    But now, what should follow?
    Let's look at verses 6-10:1
    Ezra 9:6–10:1 (CSB)
    6 And I said: My God, I am ashamed and embarrassed to lift my face toward you, my God, because our iniquities are higher than our heads and our guilt is as high as the heavens.
    7 Our guilt has been terrible from the days of our ancestors until the present. Because of our iniquities we have been handed over, along with our kings and priests, to the surrounding kings, and to the sword, captivity, plundering, and open shame, as it is today.
    8 But now, for a brief moment, grace has come from the Lord our God to preserve a remnant for us and give us a stake in his holy place. Even in our slavery, God has given us a little relief and light to our eyes.
    9 Though we are slaves, our God has not abandoned us in our slavery. He has extended grace to us in the presence of the Persian kings, giving us relief, so that we can rebuild the house of our God and repair its ruins, to give us a wall in Judah and Jerusalem.
    10 Now, our God, what can we say in light of this? For we have abandoned the commands
    11 you gave through your servants the prophets, saying, “The land you are entering to possess is an impure land. The surrounding peoples have filled it from end to end with their uncleanness by their impurity and detestable practices.
    12 So do not give your daughters to their sons in marriage or take their daughters for your sons. Never pursue their welfare or prosperity, so that you will be strong, eat the good things of the land, and leave it as an inheritance to your sons forever.”
    13 After all that has happened to us because of our evil deeds and terrible guilt—though you, our God, have punished us less than our iniquities deserve and have allowed us to survive—
    14 should we break your commands again and intermarry with the peoples who commit these detestable practices? Wouldn’t you become so angry with us that you would destroy us, leaving neither remnant nor survivor?
    15 Lord God of Israel, you are righteous, for we survive as a remnant today. Here we are before you with our guilt, though no one can stand in your presence because of this.
    1 While Ezra prayed and confessed, weeping and falling facedown before the house of God, an extremely large assembly of Israelite men, women, and children gathered around him. The people also wept bitterly.

    II. The confession

    What did Ezra do when confronted with the sin of the people?
    Ezra confessed the sin to God.
    What is our typical response to sin or be accused of something, even if we did it?
    We deny, lie and deny some more.
    If we deny what we did enough, we can convince ourselves we did nothing wrong.
    Ezra does the opposite; he professes the guilt of the Nation to God.
    When we confess our sins to God, the confession is not the first time God found out about what we had done.
    Instead, confession is me telling God that I recognize what I did was wrong; I agree with God that I need to change some things in my life.
    Ezra goes through the Nation's long history, telling God that He has always been better to the people than they deserve.
    Even at the lowest points of the Nation, God was there for them.
    In Ezra's prayer, he uses a phrase to describe God'sEzra's character and relationship with his people.
    God has an "unfailing love" (9:9, New Living Translation).
    We often think of God's unfailing love not being that important to the Old Testament and only really describing Jesus and salvation.
    However, the God revealed in the Bible is love himself, no matter what book in the Bible we are reading.
    And even for the failing Hebrew people, God had an unfailing love, just like he has for people today.
    Look at verse 9 with me again.
    Ezra 9:9
    Ezra 9:9 (CSB)
    9 Though we are slaves, our God has not abandoned us in our slavery. He has extended grace to us in the presence of the Persian kings, giving us relief, so that we can rebuild the house of our God and repair its ruins, to give us a wall in Judah and Jerusalem.
    Ezra says that even though they were slaves, He did not abandon them, but rather He extended His GRACE to them in the presence of the Persian Kings.
    This word GRACE is a word that denotes an unfailing kind of love, kindness, goodness; it is often used of God'sGod's love that is related to faithfulness to His covenant!
    This word emphasizes the main thrust of the message today.
    God wants His people to thrive; God is for you, not against you.
    You do not have to hide in shame or quit on God when you fall short because you think He cannot love you!
    We have to quit letting our insecurities keep us from humbly going before God in a time of confession.
    God will forgive; God still loves you.
    I know our insecurities and pride can keep us from being willing to confess to the Lord.
    In chapter 10, verse 1, Ezra is weeping over the sin and confessing the sin, and those with him do the same.
    It is one thing to be sorry, weep and confess, but what now? What should come next?
    In 2 Corinthians 7:10Paul speaks on the issue of sorrow, and we can see that Ezra and the people around him are sorrowful.
    So, what should the sorrow lead one to do?
    2 Corinthians 7:10 (CSB)
    10 For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, but worldly grief produces death.

    III. The act of repentance.

    Let's look at chapter 10, verses 2-4.
    Ezra 10:2–4 (CSB)
    2 Then Shecaniah son of Jehiel, an Elamite, responded to Ezra, “We have been unfaithful to our God by marrying foreign women from the surrounding peoples, but there is still hope for Israel in spite of this.
    3 Therefore, let’s make a covenant before our God to send away all the foreign wives and their children, according to the counsel of my lord and of those who tremble at the command of our God. Let it be done according to the law.
    4 Get up, for this matter is your responsibility, and we support you. Be strong and take action!”
    The people are convicted of their sin after hearing Ezra's prayer.
    Shekaniah speaks to Ezra, proclaiming, "Despite this, there is still hope for Israel" (10:2)
    The people then make a covenant, renewing their faithfulness to God (10:19)
    There is always hope.
    Hope is powerful.
    Ezra was used by God to show the brokenness of the people.
    "Preaching a great God in an awe-inspiring way brings about a sense of our wretched condition.
    That, too, was the impression Ezra made on the Jewish community in and around Jerusalem in December 458 B.C." (Derek W. H. Thomas, "Repentance in the Rain," Ezra & Nehemiah, Reformed Expository Commentary [Phillipsberg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2016], 177).
    What people do you allow to speak truth in your life and possibly show the flaws you hope to avoid?
    Hope is powerful; our hope in the unfailing love of God will not come back void.
    We need to know that God wants us to repent and that HE will not drag us through our sins time and time again when we do.
    Maybe you feel imprisoned by your failures, but in God's unfailing love, he has given his grace to you, along with hope for today and tomorrow.
    Today's challenge from the message is: Even amid great sin, there is amazing hope for reconciliation because of God's unfailing love and redeeming power.
    How do you make this challenge work?
    By trusting in the unfailing love of God!
      • Ezra 9.1CSB

      • Ezra 9.2CSB

      • Ezra 9.3-4CSB

      • Ezra 9.5CSB

      • Ezra 9.4CSB

      • Ezra 9.6CSB

      • Ezra 9.7CSB

      • Ezra 9.8CSB

      • Ezra 9.9-10CSB

      • Ezra 9.11CSB

      • Ezra 9.12CSB

      • Ezra 9.13CSB

      • Ezra 9.14CSB

      • Ezra 9.15CSB

      • Ezra 10.1CSB

      • Ezra 9.9CSB

      • 2 Corinthians 7.10CSB

      • Ezra 10.2CSB

      • Ezra 10.3-4CSB

  • Revelation Song
  • Beneath The Waters (I Will Rise)
  • What A Beautiful Name
  • Oxygen

Let us get to know you!

Please take a moment to send us your information so that we may stay connected with you. Your information is carefully managed and protected.
I am a:
How did you hear about us?