In Chapter 8, Ezra perceives that no return to Jerusalem should be made without the Levites, and he gathers their remnant before embarking on the dangerous journey.
In Chapter 9, Ezra is advised that there has been a central corruption of the Law of Moses – intermarriage – in express violation of the commandment of God through Moses; this is what led Israel to gross idolatry and the ultimate judgment of God.
Ezra then teaches us what true repentance looks like.
- Tears his garments, pulls hair from his head and beard, and sits appalled.
- Gathers all who tremble at the words of God around him while he sits appalled.
- Fasts the entire day, rises in the evening, falls on his knees, and prays:
- “I am ashamed and blushing; our sins are higher our than heads, mounting to heaven;
- “From the days of Moses to now we have been great in guilt;
- “For our sins we have been given into the kings of the lands, to utter shame today.
- “But now for a moment, favor has been shown by God to leave us a remnant…
- “…and secure hold in this holy place, to brighten our eyes and revive us in slavery.
- “For we are slaves, yet God has not forsaken us…
- “…but has extended his steadfast love through the kings of Persia.
- “What now shall we say? For we have forsaken your commandments…
- “…which you commanded by your prophets:
- ’This is an impure land; their abominations have filled it from end to end with uncleanness.
- ’Do not give your children to theirs; never seek their peace, that you may be strong…
- ’…and leave an inheritance forever.’
- “After all that has come for our great guilt, you have punished us less than we deserve…
- “…So shall we break your commandments again and intermarry?
- “Would you not be so angry with us until no remnant remains and there is no escape?
- “O Lord, you are just. We are before you in guilt…
- “For none can stand before you because of this.”
- Ezra prays, confesses and casts himself down before the Lord…
- …a great assembly gathers to him…and the people weep bitterly.
Now this is repentance! It is the only path to restoration, perfect unity with God, and completion of the Cycle!
Many people believe that the author of Ezra and Nehemiah was the same as 1 and 2 Chronicles. If so, Ezra has put into practice what 2 Chronicles 7:14, the theme of this entire series, sets as the standard for returning to perfect unity with God from temptation, disobedience, and disunity:
“…if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”
National repentance leads to restoration: in Chapter 10, the remnant of Israel makes a solemn covenant with God to eliminate their greatest corruption. As harsh as it is, it would not have been necessary if they had obeyed the commands of God.
What is the central corruption within the church of Jesus Christ for which we need to repent as if we were a nation today? What are the commands of Jesus that complete the Law of Moses? Has Ezra shown us the way forward to repentance? What would this look like? And how can we covenant with God for restoration to perfect unity?
 The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2001). (2 Ch 7:14). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.