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Ezra Chapter 9 – Don’t Waste the Grace You’ve Been Given
This Week’s Reading: Ezra Chapter 9 and Ephesians 4:17-32
We’ve all heard it said, “How could it be sin if it’s not hurting anybody?” or “How could it be wrong, if no one gets hurt?”
The internet is full of these questions, perhaps you’ve entertained the idea yourself. After all, how bad can it be if no one gets hurt?
Turning to Ezra chapter nine we read, “The people of Israel, including the priests and the Levites, have not kept themselves separate from the neighboring peoples with their detestable practices, like those of the Canaanites, Hittites, Perizzites, Jebusites, Ammonites, Moabites, Egyptians and Amorites…”
Reading on we see that Ezra is grieved for his people who have not only mingled with strangers from other lands, many had intermarried which was strictly forbidden in Jewish law.
In order to gain a deeper understanding of this, let’s look at this verse from Deuteronomy Chapter 7.
And when the Lord thy God shall deliver them before thee; thou shalt smite them, and utterly destroy them; thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor shew mercy unto them: Neither shalt thou make marriages with them; thy daughter thou shalt not give unto his son, nor his daughter shalt thou take unto thy son. (Deuteronomy 7:2-3, KJV)
This commandment was given to them before they entered The Promised Land. It was symbolic, of life in the Spirit and those who return to their sin. There’s a strong parallel here to the admonition given to us that we must leave sin behind as we enter the Spirit-filled life. We find it sprinkled throughout the New Testament, but here’s one verse that sums it up well:
And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. (Galatians 5:24, KJV)
Once you are free from sin, don’t return to it. Don’t entertain it. Don’t engage with it. Don’t be married to it in the sense that you carry it into your new life with Christ. Destroy it.
There’s an old Cherokee legend about two wolves at war, which serves to remind us how dangerous it is to entertain sin.
It goes on to say that one night a grandfather was teaching his grandson about life.
“A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy. “It is a terrible fight between two wolves. One is evil: anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, and false pride.” He continued, “The other is good: joy, peace, love, hope, humility, kindness, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you, and inside every other person you know.”
The boy paused to think for a moment before looking up at his grandfather. “Which one will win?” He asked.
The wise man simply replied, “It’s the one that you feed.”
When we crucify our sin, we no longer feed that sin. We don’t entertain it, meditate on it, or engage with it.
Those who are in Christ delight in His law. We meditate on His Word, we obey the Word, and we feed our minds with His goodness and truth.
That’s how we crucify the flesh and win the good fight.
Don’t waste the grace you’ve been given. Don’t treasure the sin that you’re in. God’s plan for your life isn’t far off in the future, it’s a plan that starts here and now. It’s a life of abundant joy and incomparable peace. Why put that off for tomorrow when you can be blessed today?
Satan comes to kill, to steal, and destroy, but he can’t touch this treasure inside. He’ll try, I assure you of that, which is why it’s important that we’re walking in faith. He can’t steal your joy if it’s rooted in Christ. He can’t rob you of peace if you’re grounded in faith.
And so, my friend, salvation is more than simply a ticket to heaven someday, it’s a relationship with God, that starts right here and right now.
When you truly love God, it’s not hard to see why The Holy Spirit is grieved. Grieved by the sin we return to. Grieved each time we try to minimize sin. Grieved by the sin that sent our Lord to the Cross.
Remember, Ezra is a type of the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament, which means that he typifies or reflects the character of the Holy Spirit. As we look at this chapter we see Ezra grieving over the sin of his people, which offers us another parallel to the spiritual life: one in which the Holy Spirit grieves over sin. We see him interceding on behalf of God’s people in much the same way that the Holy Spirit intercedes for us today.
Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God. (Romans 8:26-27, KJV)
The Jews were God’s chosen people. They were the ones entrusted with the Words of God, but with that that blessing came responsibility. They were given strict laws to adhere to so that they might be an example for us and for the ages to come.
Now all these things happened unto them for examples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come. – 1 Corinthians 10:11, KJV
When we gave our lives over to Christ, we left sin behind. At least we should have, if we love God the way we say that we do.
And yet I wonder, how many of those little sins are we still hanging onto? The ones we don’t see as destructive, the ones we’ve decided can stay.
Maybe it’s a bad temper. Maybe it’s a habit of swearing. Maybe you’re getting drunk on Saturday nights. Maybe you know it’s there, but you’ve decided this sin is harmless enough to remain a part of your life. Maybe you’re not ready to let go just yet.
Remember the scripture that says, “A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump.” What we deem as harmless has the potential to destroy us in ways we could never imagine.
My friend, don’t underestimate the destructive potential of sin. Don’t fool yourself into thinking that a little sin is harmless. Don’t trade the power of God’s wisdom for the folly of your own. Don’t choose comfort in lieu of courage.
Pause and Reflect
- What was the accusation raised against the people of Israel including the priest and the Levites?
- Who led the way (or who was chief) in this unfaithfulness?
- What was intermarriage with these other people symbolic of?
- Was intermarriage the only problem they had?
- What did Ezra do when he heard about the sinful accusations?
- What does the Jewish word “Kriah” mean, and what is it symbolic of?
- What does Romans 12:2 tell us about separating ourselves from the world? Write the verse out here.
- What does 2 Corinthians 6:14 teach us about separating ourselves from the world? Write the verse out here.
- Are you still engaged with any sin from your past? Is there sin in your life that you haven’t completely let go of? If so, what is it and what should you be doing about it?
- When Ezra grieved over the sin of the people, he typified the Holy Spirit who grieves when we sin. What are some things that grieve the Holy Spirit? See Ephesians 4:25-32, and list them in your own words:
Ezra Chapter 10 – It Only Takes a Spark
This Week’s Reading: Ezra Chapter 10 and Acts 2
I got something pretty today. I’m easy to please when it comes to pretty things, and this new range hood is just that. It makes me look and feel like a real cook even when I’m just opening a can.
Before the installer got to work on our kitchen, my husband threw down a few bed sheets to shield the stove and counter top from falling dust and debris, then the installer set up a ladder in front of the oven and got to work.
You know how it is–they work, they run to the truck for a tool, they come back… Well on one of his trips back into the house I heard the word, “Fire!”
Here’s the thing about our new stove–if you happen to lean on it you might turn it on, and that’s exactly what happened. The element was on, his measuring tape was melting, and our sheet was on fire! Thankfully we caught it in time, as I’m sure you know fire can spread quickly.
As I got to thinking about that today I was reminded of the power of a little spark. Just as one spark can set a forest on fire, so our testimony can ignite faith in the heart of another.
There’s an old camp song we used to sing in the 70s called “Pass it On.” I haven’t thought about that song for years, but today it’s been on my heart. Here’s one of the verses from it…
I wish for you my friend
This happiness that I’ve found
You can depend on Him
It matters not where you’re bound
I’ll shout it from the mountain top
I want the world to know
The Lord of love has come to me
I want to pass it on
– Kurt Kaiser
My sister Bonnie and I used to sing that song all the time on road trips. We’d be in the back seat of the car belting out church tunes, with that one at the top of our list every time.
I’ve held onto those lyrics over the years as a constant reminder of the power of one. All it takes is one person willing to be used by the Lord, to make big things happen.
One man building an ark.
One shepherd boy slaying a giant.
One man willing to speak to the Pharaoh.
One woman hiding the spies.
One man who believed in God’s promise.
One woman willing to speak to the king on behalf of her people.
Opening my Bible to Ezra chapter 10, I see one man praying, confessing, weeping and throwing himself down before the house of God. One spark, that got a fire going.
The Bible tells us that while Ezra was praying, a large crowd gathered around him and wept bitterly.
What simply started with one man and one prayer, turned into one of the greatest revivals in history, as person after person turned away from their sin, and turned their lives toward God.
And so, my friend, don’t underestimate the power of one. One willing servant ready to be used. One powerful God behind her.
Fire needs three things to exist: fuel, oxygen, and heat. This is known as “The Fire Triangle.” Take away any one of these things and that fire is immediately extinguished. You may have seen this happen when you cover a candle. Take away the oxygen, and the fire goes out. The fire will also go out if you run out of wood or try to start it without heat.
What you’re seeing in this last chapter are the three working together to create a blazing fire. It’s similar to what we see in Acts Chapter 2, when the Holy Spirit filled the house like a rushing wind. The heat source in both of these instances was prayer, the fuel were the people and the oxygen—The Holy Spirit.
Acts chapter 1 tells us,
These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren. (Acts 1:14, KJV)
Ezra 10:1 says,
While Ezra was praying and confessing, weeping and throwing himself down before the house of God, a large crowd of Israelites—men, women and children—gathered around him. They too wept bitterly.
Ezra’s prayer was deeply convicting. And, so it is with the power of the Holy Spirit as it convicts the world of sin. As we allow the Holy Spirit to move in our lives He continues to fan the flame and keep the fire going.
Notice how the people gathered around Ezra, like logs on a fire, waiting for that one spark to ignite. Once it did, that fire spread throughout the camp until the whole assembly responded to the call for repentance. They put away their foreign wives, which again represents that marriage to sin we all once had, and made a firm decision to serve the Lord.
Pause and Reflect
- What did Shechaniah suggest to Ezra, and what does this tell us about Shechaniah’s attitude at this time?
- Using Shechaniah’s example, what three steps should we take when we find ourselves caught up in sin?
- What hope could you give someone who has backslidden and wonders if they can return to the Lord?
- The events we read about in this chapter are not an invitation to divorce an unbelieving spouse. In fact, the Bible tells us that God hates divorce (Malachi 2:16). These Jews were under the Levitical Law. As such, their example serves to teach us a spiritual lesson. Looking to 1 Corinthians Chapter 7, what reason does Paul give the church for staying with an unbelieving spouse?
- What proclamation was issued throughout Judah? And what did Ezra do right before the proclamation was issued?
- When the people were assembled together, what were they told to do? And what was their response?
- In the introduction I pointed out that the book of Ezra parallels the purification of one’s heart. Looking back at that chapter, what was the definition of the word purify?
- In what way were hearts purified in this chapter?
- Finally, looking back at Jeremiah 24:6-7 again, let’s remember once again why God brought them through this journey and to this final place. Write the verse out here:
Ezra: Rebuilding the Temple, Restoring the Heart, available now @Amazon.com
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When you purchase a copy of the study guide you’re helping to support this ministry as we share the gospel with over 500,000 women around the world.
Ezra Bible Study Chapters 9 & 10
Note: This download is only for week 6 of the study (Chapters 9 & 10). These are the final chapters in the study. There are 11 chapters (including the introduction) in total. Click here to view and download this week’s printable lesson.
Darlene Schacht and her husband Michael live in Manitoba Canada where the summers are beautiful and the winters are cold. Together they’ve come to learn that relationships aren’t always easy, but that marriage, the way God intended it to be, is a treasure worth fighting for.
She began her publishing journey about twelve years ago when she pioneered one of the first online magazines for Christian women, known at the time as “Christian Women Online Magazine.” After three years, Darlene left CWO to blog as a solo author at Time-Warp Wife Ministries.
It was also during this transition that she worked alongside actress Candace Cameron Bure to write the NYT Best-Selling book, Reshaping it All: Motivation for Spiritual and Physical Fitness. Reshaping it All was the winner of both the 2011 USA Best Book Awards and the 2012 Christian Reading Retailers Choice Awards.
Author of more than 15 books, Darlene continues to write and to minister to her readers through her blog at TimeWarpWife.com.
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You are loved by an almighty God,
The Time-Warp Wife