Tuesday, July 31, 2012
leading by repentance
While Ezra prayed and made confession, weeping and casting himself down before the house of God, a very great assembly of men, women, and children, gathered to him out of Israel, for the people wept bitterly.
Leading people to spiritual renewal is hard work. It must begin with repentance and confession of sin. Ezra was not guilty of breaking the covenant by intermarriage with gentiles. He was innocent of the sin. But he saw this as a national problem that was disobeying God, hindering His blessing, and disregarding God's Law. So he went into a time of repentance filled, mourning confession for the sake of the nation. He led in example by repenting of this practice.
Ezra's actions stirred up a repentant spirit in the people. A vast throng of people gathered even in the cold pouring rain of a storm to confess and forsake sin. Ezra's seriousness led to the serious spiritual renewal of God's people.
A leader's example in humble repentance and respect for the Lord can do much to influence others to do the right thing. Ezra did not need to issue a government crackdown to deal with Israel's sin. Instead he chose to show humble brokenness over sin. And God honored that. This is refreshing to see in scripture. The courage it took for Ezra to do this was great. But it was because his heart yearned to love God and respect His law first. And that changed the hearts of a disobedient nation of people. Ezra led by repentance and thus led his people to repentance.