Day 12

The People’s Repentance

from the reading plan

Ezra 10:1-44, Joshua 24:14-28, 1 Peter 2:1-10

There’s an old police drama I love that has a scene where a detective is interviewing a suspect who murdered the detective’s wife. Other detectives have tried to get the murderer to confess, to no avail, and the widower asks if he can try. Everyone is afraid he will kill the guy, but he maneuvers his way into the interrogation room as his fellow officers watch through the mirrored glass. 

Rather than attack the suspect, the detective begins to weep and asks the killer how long he can go on living like this—How long will he subject his heart to such coldness and posturing before he finds he can’t go on anymore? Slowly, the killer’s face softens, and he begins to weep too. It’s a powerful scene because the killer moves from a posture of trying to protect himself from the consequences of his sin to lamenting the existence of the sin itself. 

Ezra 10 is about God’s people seeing their sin and lamenting its presence in their hearts. Before this, they were committed to trying to downplay the seriousness of their sin before others and even before God. They were afraid of the consequences—of what could happen to them if they were found out—more than they were concerned about the problem itself. But as Ezra called them to repentance through his tears of sorrow and lament, the Lord, in His kindness, gave the people eyes to see themselves as they truly were. They hadn’t just broken God’s rules, they had broken faith with God Himself, and they realized they weren’t just in trouble: they were lost. And that reality hurt.

But this kind of repentance was also the way to a new relationship with God: a renewed commitment to the covenant. They could not obey their way into God’s favor, nor could they pretend to be clean before Him. They had to break. They had to own their duplicity, their manipulating ways, their pride, their anger, their deceptions, and their contempt for God and their neighbor, and they had to voice it to the Lord and lay it on the altar of humble repentance.

Where in your life are you trying to protect yourself from the consequences of your sin, and what might it look like to lament the existence of the sin itself? There is no freedom in sin management, but there is in repentance. Do you want to be free, or do you just want to look free?

When we repent, we are able to start fresh. We are restored. We are reborn.

Post Comments (3)

3 thoughts on "The People’s Repentance"

  1. Laura says:

    “As for me and my family, we will worship the Lord.” My husband and I were part of a weekend retreat where you were to come up with a family slogan, or saying to represent your family’s values. This was the one we kept coming back to, so although simple and obvious, perhaps, from a Christian perspective, it is so very important for our family to remember. As I have shared, my daughter and son are both deep in rebellion against Biblical values and because of that have recognized that they do not belong with the family. It’s hard, no wrenching, to have two family members who have rejected the faith that they grew up with and are going in the total opposite direction. Because of this rebellion, they do not join with our family. I used to feel a lot of guilt about that, and think, maybe we should lower our standards so that they come back. “Love them back to the faith” so to speak. But my husband has stood strong, and I have searched the Lord’s wisdom as well and have come to realize that this separation is in God’s will. I have felt peace about it, even though my heart is sad every day. This part of Ezra really speaks to me, because God takes sin seriously (as we should) and places a hedge around His people to keep it out. That is how I have described what is happening in our family. We have placed a hedge around our family, and our two rebellious children do not feel comfortable crossing it, nor do we want them to think that what they are doing is God-honoring. Separation is hard, but sometimes it is necessary for true repentance and turning back. I pray every day that that repentance comes and also pray for myself and my husband that any sinful decision we make about this situation will be revealed to us. Thank you to all the sisters here who continue to pray for our family. It means a lot.

    1. He Reads Truth says:

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  2. Dave M says:

    “There is no freedom in sin management, but there is in repentance. Do you want to be free, or do you just want to look free?”

    In a world where it is all about looking good rather than being good, this was a powerful reminder about what true repentance looks like.

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