The end of the book of Ezra chronicles how the people confessed their sin before God. The people of Israel had disobeyed what God had commanded and married foreign women. Even though they directly disobeyed God, they confessed the sin and repented and received forgiveness from the Lord, and it’s a pattern we can apply to our own lives today.
First we need to understand forgiveness, and the ultimate expression of this forgiveness is represented in God’s relationship with humanity. Forgiveness is only possible because God is a God of grace – forgiveness in rooted in His nature. God stated this plainly about Himself to Moses:
The LORD passed before him (Moses) and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation.” (Exodus 34:6-7 ESV)
Second we need to call sin what it truly is, anything that is against God. Sin merits punishment because it offends the very nature of God. Sin is a violation against our purpose and design as humans: to bring glory to God. Our sin is in direct opposition to the goodness of God, and because He delights in Himself, God necessarily and eternally hates sin. This is a problem for the Israelites because they have sinned; they are in direct opposition to God. This continues to us because we know from Scripture that “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.”
The pattern we can learn from today is exactly what Ezra leads the people to do:
Recognize the sin
Confess the sin
Repent from the sin
Receive the forgiveness of God
Ezra leads the people first by recognizing the sin before the people and most importantly, before God. Then he confesses the sin to God and makes a plan to repent from the wrongdoing. Finally we see they receive forgiveness from God, and so can you today!
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9 ESV)
God freely offers forgiveness to us today through His son, Jesus.
How has God’s forgiveness impacted your life? Are there sinful things in your life you need to confess to God? Do you find it difficult to accept and believe that God has forgiven you?
By: Alex Boswell