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::Devotional:: ‘So Upset I Could Pull My Hair Out!’

December 9, 2009

Recently I watched a video on youtube of a teenage boy who spends close to six minutes thrashing about in his room, where his brother had hidden a camera, because his mom canceled an online video game account he had been using.  Screaming, jumping, smacking himself with a shoe in the face – it is ridiculous.  I halfway think it must have been staged but maybe I’m just naive enough to think that people instinctively have more sense then that.  Then again, a u is a tantrum right?  Ironically, in the Old Testament things like tearing ones clothes and pulling ones hair or beard out were not signs of a tantrum but rather signs of humility and sorrow over sin, deep sin.

Ezra was a man well versed in the law through his devoted study and observance and one passage of scripture give us some insight into the basic foundation of his worldview.

The gracious hand of our God is on everyone who looks to him, but his great anger is against all who forsake him.  Ezra 8:22

When Ezra arrived in Jerusalem he received some pretty disturbing news.  Apparently, after rebuilding the temple in Jerusalem, the first group of exiles who had returned prior to Ezra began to marry into the various people groups around them.  This was something that God had made clear to the Israelites before that they were not to do.

The people of Israel, including the priests and Levites, have not kept themselves separate from the neighboring peoples with their detestable practices, like those of the Canaanites, Hittites, Perizzites, Jebusites, Ammonites, Moabites, Egyptians, and Amorites.  They have taken some of their daughters as wives for themselves and their sons, and have mingled the holy race with the peoples around them.  And the leaders and officials have led the way in this unfaithfulness.  Ezra 9:1-2

There’s a whole other post we could do from here about the responsibilities and effects of leadership, but for now we’ll have to stay focused on the subject of this post.  There is a very simple formula repeated throughout the nation Israel’s history and it goes like this:  Israelites + Marriage to foreign people groups who do not worship God = Forsaking of the Lord.  Notice Ezra’s immediate reaction to the news shared with him about this situation.

When I heard this, I tore my tunic and cloak, pulled hair from my head and bear and sat down appalled.  Then everyone who trembled at the words of the God of Israel gathered around me because of this unfaithfulness of the exiles.  And I sat there appalled until the evening sacrifice.  Ezra 9:3-4

Why was Ezra so distraught over this sin?  Well, remember the foundation of his worldview.

The gracious hand of our God is on everyone who looks to him, but his great anger is against all who forsake him.  Ezra 8:22

Ezra had just been living in exile in Babylon because God has punished the Israelites for their unfaithfulness to him in the past.  But God was gracious enough to allow a few, a remnant, to come back to Jerusalem to begin again and after they succeeded in rebuilding the temple they jumped right back into the sins of their unfaithfulness.  God’s great anger stood ready against the Israelites who had forsaken him.  Tomorrow we will look to see what Ezra does next and how the people respond.

What about application for us?  How does this principle about God apply to us today?  Well, thankfully the Lord doesn’t change.  What was importantt to him during Ezra’s time is still just as importan to him in our time.  As Christians, we have pledged our allegiance and our faithfulness to God and God alone.  The question we need to ask ourselves is whether or not our lives are following suite with that committment.  I don’t know about you, but I sure would rather be in a position where God’s hand is upon me rather than his great anger standing against me.

-Stay Rooted Col. 2:7-

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