SUNDAY 24TH DECEMBER, 2017                                                             READ – DAY: Luke 19; Night: Esther 1-5


TEXT:     EZRA 9- 10

Hymn:  EMHB 353- Just as I am without one plea.

Our text this morning presents a bitter pill that all Christians should swallow if they are to be candidates of heaven and not hell. Ezra complained that a lot of the people of Israel including priests and Levites, had not kept themselves separate from the neighbouring peoples,” and a lot of intermarriage with them had taken place. He was very angry. He tore his garment and pulled off the hairs of his head and his beard! What made him so angry was that the Levites, leaders and officials who should have shown the way, were themselves ring leaders in this unfaithfulness which negated God’s instructions in Exodus 34:2ff and Deut. 7:1ff.

Ezra was not involved in the sin but he did not exonerate himself from the misdeeds and sins of Israel. His prayer on this occasion for God to overlook the sin is one of the most moving prayers in the Bible. “We Israelites are without excuse because of our sins; our desert is to be blotted by Thee out of existence and therefore all, that we can do in our plight is to cast ourselves on Thy mercy. (Ezra 9: 6-15).

And when Ezra had ended his prayer, one of those present, Shecaniah, acknowledged the sins of the nation and said God, being full of mercy, could restore those blessings they had lost back to the nation, if they repented. Ezra, therefore, commanded the guilty ones (a total of 111 families were involved) should send away their foreign wives. And they all did so. What a bitter and heart-breaking pill to swallow!

Are you ready to send away that “foreign wife” for God to hear the prayers of the nations? Are you ready to confess and return everything you have stolen to the owner? Are you ready to return those salaries of ghost workers you collected in your office? Are you ready to make apologies for injustices done? Until you are able to do all these and lots more you cannot get a visa to heaven. Period.

Memory verse:  Ezra 10:12 “Then all the congregation answered with a loud voice. As thou hast said, so must we do”

Prayer: Lord, I accept myself as the vilest offender. Cleanse me of my sins and adopt me as your son now and evermore.

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