And at the evening sacrifice I (Ezra) arose up from my heaviness; and having rent my garment and my mantle, I fell upon my knees, and spread out my hands unto the LORD my God, and said, O my God, I am ashamed and blush to lift up my face to You, my God: for our iniquities are increased over our head, and our trespass is grown up unto the heavens.
This prayer of Ezra is one of the great prayers of the Bible. It was prompted by the report that the people began to do what God told them not to do when they first entered the land after their deliverance from Egypt.
“The people of Israel, and the priests, and the Levites, have not separated themselves from the people of the lands, doing according to their abominations, even of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Jebusites, the Ammonites, the Moabites, the Egyptians, and the Amorites. For they have taken of their daughters for themselves, and for their sons: so that the holy seed have mingled themselves with the people of those lands: yea, the hand of the princes and rulers hath been chief in this trespass.”
It was a prayer of confession, a prayer for mercy and a prayer for guidance. If you just surface read this prayer you might be tempted to say, “So what!” Don’t do that but get into the prayer with Ezra. However, try to feel what he is feeling.
A portion of the people had been allowed to go back to their homeland to rebuild the Temple and now some of them are doing the same things that caused them to go into bondage in the first place. Ezra is heartbroken. He tore his garment and fell on his knees and said “O my God I am ashamed and blush (embarrassed) to lift my face to you.” He said, “Our iniquities are increased over our head, and our trespass is grown up onto the heavens.” Feel what Ezra felt when you read this prayer.
We should not be shocked by what unbelievers of this world say and do today because they know not the way of truth but we should be, as Ezra was, shocked by what those who call themselves believers do and say. We should be so embarrassed by it that we blush to lift up our faces to the Lord but we should pray that God will bring them to the place of repentance.
It was not the common people who were sinning in Israel it was the “priests and the Levites” who were “chief in this trespass.” It was their leaders who were the biggest problem. Read the entirety of Ezra’s prayer and pray again that God will bring this nation to repentance and revival. Only a Divine intervention can change this world and a Divine intervention is exactly what we need. Pray as Ezra prayed, amen and amen.