Day 12

The People’s Repentance

from the Ezra reading plan

Ezra 10:1-44, Joshua 24:14-28, 1 Peter 2:1-10

BY Tameshia Williams

I know from past readings that the ending of Ezra is not pretty. It’s hard, and I was not looking forward to it. The beginning of the book presents a beautiful and resilient story of homecoming and rebuilding God’s house. And with the final chapters come a plot twist most unwelcomed. 

But as I read through Ezra this time, I’ve found myself surprisingly moved with appreciation over the inclusion of the last parts. Without it, I don’t think the book is complete. Even if it raises more questions than it presents answers.

As the story of the people’s unfaithfulness continues into this last chapter, Ezra deeply mourns their sin (Ezra 10:1). Even after God’s gracious hand had brought them home, they still wandered outside the bounds of their covenant relationship with Him. This picture of infidelity feels familiar: the nation’s refusal to repent for their rebellion had led them into exile in the first place. However, something is different in today’s reading—the people’s response.

“We have been unfaithful to our God” (Ezra 10:2). Instead of hardening their hearts, the people joined Ezra in grieving over their sin. We have been unfaithful to our God. This response has convicted me, really stopped me in my tracks. It’s prompted me to think about where I’m failing to obey God’s Word. And oh, how unpretty it is—being confronted with my disobedience. How do we move forward after we’ve realized our sin and confessed our wrongdoing? We return.  

There is still hope for Israel in spite of this. 
—Ezra 10:2

We realign our ways with God’s Word, as the people did. The hope that lies before us is that we are His people. That means that we respond to His call to repentance with humility and deep sorrow. But we also rejoice that we are His people and recipients of His mercy (1Peter 2:10). 

On this last day of reading through Ezra, I am thankful for every page—from beginning to end. For me, the whole of Ezra has come to be a picture of our ongoing redemption story. 

We are His people, rescued and restored. Sometimes we get it wrong. Sometimes our tendency to wander from God can lead to potentially devastating consequences. But He continually calls us to return to Him, to reorient our hearts to follow His ways. When we do, He faithfully responds with forgiveness and mercy, again and again. 

Post Comments (55)

55 thoughts on "The People’s Repentance"

  1. lara-ann feldtman says:

    Such a needed reminder this morning. Often the confession happens; and there is genuine repentance. But what about the choice to realign my ways with God’s Word? I often don’t follow through with choosing what is right or living God’s way. But that’s what God’s people had to do— even though it must have been so painful. Confession must lead to changed hearts and desires – and I need God’s help. Such a blessing to know that the Lord Jesus offers me forgiveness, mercy, and His strength every day.

  2. Rebecca Aikens says:

    I just loved the phrase “reorient our hearts” to return to God. An acknowledgement that no one has it right 100% of the time.

  3. Audrey Gray says:

    Amen. Well put.

  4. kady turner says:

    Our God is so good to us ❤️

  5. Ruth Long says:

    That last chapter of Ezra absolutely gutted me. Ezra was distraught, and almost like a movie, the entire nation filters in to mourn with him and repent. It’s beautiful and heartbreaking. I want to be so moved by my own sin to that extent, to love God so deeply that wronging him hurts me.

  6. Cynthia Dena says:

    It’s probably because of the grace weeks where she’s are encouraged to finish studies if they fell behind. Or can choose an older study to complete. They may not have the daily emails.

  7. Kat D says:

    @Helen Marsh You may need to reach them from their website. Not sure how often they read the comments from prior days if they read them at all. Hope you are able to reconnect soon.

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