For we have forsaken your commandments, which you commanded … saying, ‘The land that you are entering, to take possession of it, is a land impure with the impurity of the peoples of the lands, with their abominations that have filled it from end to end with their uncleanness.Ezra 9:10-12
Therefore … never seek their peace or prosperity, that you may be strong and eat the good of the land and leave it for an inheritance to your children forever.’
In the book of Ezra, we’re told that after the first wave of exiles returned from Babylon to Israel, the people grew spiritually cold. Ezra the priest returns with the second wave of exiles and is told that they have not separated themselves from the peoples of the surrounding lands and had married foreign women against the command of God. Being a godly man who had devoted himself to the study, observance, and teaching of God’s law, Ezra cries out in anguish and pulls hair from his beard and his head and tears his clothes in grief because of the gravity of their sin. His weeping and intercessory prayer on behalf of the Jews is so heartfelt and moving that they respond with profound repentance and make a covenant to make things right with the Lord. In other words, spiritual revival breaks out because of one man’s commitment to the Word of God and his love for the Lord (see Ezra 9-10).
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