Daily Word

Utterly appalled | Ezra 9:3-5 (NLT)

3 When I heard this, I tore my cloak and my shirt, pulled hair from my head and beard, and sat down utterly shocked. 4 Then all who trembled at the words of the God of Israel came and sat with me because of this outrage committed by the returned exiles. And I sat there utterly appalled until the time of the evening sacrifice.

5 At the time of the sacrifice, I stood up from where I had sat in mourning with my clothes torn. I fell to my knees and lifted my hands to the Lord my God. 

Ezra 9:3-5 (NLT)

Utterly appalled

Ezra couldn’t believe what he was hearing. He was “utterly appalled”. “Ezra had just finished a dangerous four-month journey from Babylonia to Jerusalem. He had perhaps over-romanticized the spiritual commitment of the return-from-exile pioneers and had expected to find something completely different than the culture of compromise that he found.” (Enduringword.com

This quote from JFB commentary nicely summarizes the feelings of Ezra: “The intelligence of so gross a violation of God’s law by those who had been carried into captivity on account of their sins, and who, though restored, were yet unreformed, produced such a stunning effect on the mind of Ezra that he remained for a while incapable either of speech or of action.” He was shocked!

Pull your hair out

Pulling hair out is very painful. Tearing clothes was a proper way for the people to show grief – often in response to sin. Both represented how grief-stricken and appalled Ezra was. It served as a sign of humility before the Lord and a wake-up call to the offenders. 

He also got down on his knees and spread his hands to Heaven, as if he was grabbing onto the mercy of God. Here’s more on this prayer form. 

Others join

There were others in the community who were also appalled, baffled and fearful of God’s wrath. They joined with Ezra. They continued like this all day until the evening sacrifice. Did you notice that Ezra did not call people to come at this point and did not react and scold or reprimand the offenders? He humbly sought the Lord.

Like manner?

When we encounter grave sin among believers, how do we respond? How about when sin is identified in our own life? Do we respond immediately like King David (2 Sam. 12:13), and repent?

Pulling beard

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