Ezra 9.5-10 – Repentance
Posted: 13 August 2010 in Ezra

And at the evening sacrifice I arose up from my heaviness; and having rent my garment and my mantle, 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 to lift up my face to thee, my God: for our iniquities are increased over our head, and our trespass is grown up unto the heavens. Since the days of our fathers have we been in a great trespass unto this day; and for our iniquities have we, our kings, and our priests, been delivered into the hand of the kings of the lands, to the sword, to captivity, and to a spoil, and to confusion of face, as it is this day. And now for a little space grace hath been shewed from the LORD our God, to leave us a remnant to escape, and to give us a nail in his holy place, that our God may lighten our eyes, and give us a little reviving in our bondage. For we were bondmen; yet our God hath not forsaken us in our bondage, but hath extended mercy unto us in the sight of the kings of Persia, to give us a reviving, to set up the house of our God, and to repair the desolations thereof, and to give us a wall in Judah and in Jerusalem. And now, O our God, what shall we say after this? for we have forsaken thy commandments….

Ezra’s prayer, or something like it, could easily have been prayed at any time in the history of mankind – from the Garden of Eden onward. Yet when I try to imagine how a similar prayer of repentance would be worded today, I find I can’t do it. The reason I can’t do it is that our situation is not that of Ezra. Instead we are metaphorically living in the time of Jeremiah, with the Babylonians just hours away from the gates of Jerusalem, and Jerusalem’s inhabitants telling themselves that they will be able to carry on the way they always have: Paying the God of Israel at best scant attention, most likely diverting themselves with some kind of idolatry or other, and as far from repentance as it is possible to be.

So what will need to happen before the western world is woken up from its materialism and idolatry? I don’t know, but the near collapse of the world financial system a couple of years back might give us a clue.

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