Ken Rudge, St. Austell, England
I fell upon my knees, and spread out my hands unto the Lord my God, and said, ‘O my God, I am ashamed and blush’, Ezra 9. 5-6.
There is no doubt that Ezra was a prepared man for the task he was to perform upon his return to the land and the city where God had placed His Name. He was both a priest and a scribe, Ezra 7. 1-6. He clearly demonstrates that he was a man that knew God intimately as well as knowing His word thoroughly. Both these are prerequisites for fruitful service for God in this world and there are no short cuts either.
As he responds to the call of God to return to Jerusalem he is unaware of the deep spiritual problem that will confront him when he gets there. Yet, it is his godliness that will see him through when he eventually confronts it. He was a God-prepared man.
We often need a little reminder as to what constitutes godliness and we have it here in this man. We come to admire the qualities he displays as we read the record set out for us in his book. He has a meticulous care when it comes to accounting in spiritual things, he is always on his knees and deeply sensitive to sin. He fears God more than men and acts swiftly to do what is right before Him and then returning to Him with that continually repeated phrase of thankfulness that ‘the hand of his God was upon him’. He lived the word of God, revered its precepts and devotedly set it out before the people of God for them to respond. He was a man of one book!
Upon his return he finds this remnant quickly following in the steps of their fathers’ idolatrous ways through marriages to foreign wives, 9. 1-3. He is appalled at the thought of the possible consequences of yet more disciplinary measures from the hand of God and found it a time for physical remorse and abject humiliation before the Lord in confession and supplication, 9. 5-15. This is a ‘priestly’ prayer, the magnitude of which has few comparisons in scripture.
The most remarkable thing is that the matter is settled with unity of mind and deep humbling by all involved and even subjection to a process of ‘naming and shaming’ before all, 10. 1, 15-17. There were no scenes of physical retribution as with Nehemiah, Neh. 13. 23-25, or division as a result of harsh and vicious accusations. It was a healthy, healing restoration of things for the glory of God.
We have always needed the godly amongst us and perhaps today more than ever. It is most likely, here in the United Kingdom, a time for ‘falling upon our knees and spreading our hands before the Lord, with attendant shame and blushing’. We need divine restoration.
So, another year speeds on to a halfway mark and the Lord has not returned. Another Precious Seed magazine goes out with our prayers that God will use it in restoring our hearts to Himself. A good number of the articles are of a practical nature and to do with the family and our homes. Is this where God begins His work as He has done so many times before? We conclude the contributions on the Letters to the Seven Churches and the long- running series on Daniel by our brother James Cochrane. May the Lord take and use each contribution to draw us to Himself and make us the godly of our day, fit for our times and His service.