SPIRITUAL NOURISHMENT FOR TODAY
Confession of Improper Marriages
“Now while Ezra was praying, and while he was confessing, weeping, and bowing down before the house of God, a very large assembly of men, women, and children gathered to him from Israel; for the people wept very bitterly. 2 And Shechaniah the son of Jehiel, one of the sons of Elam, spoke up and said to Ezra, “We have trespassed against our God, and have taken pagan wives from the peoples of the land; yet now there is hope in Israel in spite of this. 3 Now therefore, let us make a covenant with our God to put away all these wives and those who have been born to them, according to the advice of my master and of those who tremble at the commandment of our God; and let it be done according to the law. 4 Arise, for this matter is your responsibility. We also are with you. Be of good courage, and do it.” Ezra 10:1-4.
Memory Verse: 2 Chronicles 7:14 (NIV)
IF MY PEOPLE, WHO ARE CALLED BY MY NAME, WILL HUMBLE THEMSELVES AND PRAY AND SEEK MY FACE AND TURN FROM THEIR WICKED WAYS, THEN I WILL HEAR FROM HEAVEN, AND I WILL FORGIVE THEIR SIN AND WILL HEAL THEIR LAND.
Most countries around the world are experiencing turbulence in several areas such as economy, natural disasters, political instability, famine, environmental pollution, health, energy and water crises among others. Most of these problems have been attributed to several known and obvious reasons. Many experts and world leaders are doing all they could to reduce the myriad of challenges facing their nations but as hard as they are trying, things are not getting any better. Many Christians are pointing accusing fingers on their governments while others believe it is the fulfillment of prophecy as we find in for instance 2 Timothy 3:1 which says:
MARK THIS; THERE WILL BE TERRIBLE TIMES IN THE LAST DAYS (NIV).
Inasmuch as I do not doubt the reasons given above, I strongly believe, in addition to the above, that the sins committed by the people in any nation could cause God’s anger to come upon the people in that nation. In this edition, we want to look at what the entire nation of Judah did when they realized they had sinned against God.
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 10:1 NIV).
The above is the description of the situation at the time Ezra showed concern for the sins of the people and was praying to God about it. It is obvious that not only Ezra was concerned about the sin they had fallen into-others were equally concerned. So when Ezra took the initiative to pray instead of complaining and criticizing, others came to join him in praying to the LORD for the forgiveness of the sins of the nation. They probably understood that their continuous life of sinfulness could send them back into exile or bring God’s punishment in any form upon their lives. With this understanding, the others joined Ezra to pray to God for forgiveness of sins. When the people of God unite and go before the LORD, He answers their prayers.
What is so touching about their action was that they all acknowledged that they had sinned against God, believed that He alone could forgive their sins, and wept bitterly unto Him for forgiveness. This act of mass confession is very necessary for all the nations around the world. This is very important because sin has been the cause of many of the calamities the world is facing today. There is much crime and bloodshed around the world as a result of acts of war, abortion and what have you. There is idolatry in many nations as well as sexual sins. Many acts considered in scripture as sinful have been accepted by nations and they are being perpetrated with impunity. Sins are the causes of most of the difficulties being faced by nations around the world today. It is therefore important that people of God will rise up and pray together and confess the sins of our nations before the LORD and surely he shall forgive and heal our lands. If we do not acknowledge that our nations have sinned and ask the LORD to forgive us, we may soon taste the anger of God. Let us stop complaining about our governments all the time, and go before the LORD. I strongly believe that nations which draw closer to God shall enjoy the ‘shalom’ of God.
It is obvious that the people of Israel who joined Ezra in praying did not only admit their sins; they also had hope in the faithful God to forgive and change things for the better. Shechenia said:
“WE HAVE BEEN UNFAITHFUL TO OUR GOD BY MARRYING FOREIGN WOMEN FROM THE PEOPLES AROUND US. BUT IN SPITE OF THIS, THERE IS STILL HOPE FOR ISRAEL” (Ezra 10:2b NIV).
What Shechenia said is in line with what the Chronicler said in 2 Chronicles 7:14 in our memory verse above. It is also in line with what the Apostle John said in 1 John 1:9 as follows:
IF WE CONFESS OUR SINS, HE IS FAITHFUL AND JUST, AND WILL FORGIVE US OUR SINS AND PURIFY US FROM ALL UNRIGHTEOUSNESS (NIV).
The above shows that it is not too late for us to go before the LORD and pour the sins of our nations before Him. No nation is too righteous to ask for forgiveness. No nation is too sinful to be forgiven by God. Do not let anyone create the impression that what your nation is going through cannot be changed. It is my prayer that we shall all begin to think about our nations today and identify with the scripture passage which says: “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land” (NIV). May the Lord forgive and heal our nations as we pray today and always!
THE WORD OF THE LORD!
Pastor Nana Kobina Baisie
Teacher/Pastor at Nadrim Mission International School, Busan, Korea.