“Until they acknowledge their guilt”
Today we started reading the book of Ezra. It begins by telling us that
“the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, so that he made a proclamation” (verse 1)
that the Lord has
“charged me to build … him a house (Temple) at Jerusalem …” (verse 2).
There is no indication as to what prompted him to do this, but we are inclined to conclude, as we will read at the end of this month in the account of Esther – and her involvement with Ahasuerus, who had “The army of Persia and Media (1:3) that what happened in the life of Esther, created the foundation for when “Cyrus, king of Persia made (this) proclamation”. The books are not in chronological order.
Then we turn on to Hosea 5 which starts with the Lord declaring –
“Hear this, O priests! Pay attention, O house of Israel!” (verse 1)
“Israel is defiled. Their deeds do not permit them to return to their God. For the spirit of whoredom is within them, and they know not the LORD” (verses 3,4).
That spirit, of ‘knowing not’ fills the world, including Israel, today. However, the ending of today’s chapter is challenging! The Lord says,
“I will return again to my place, until they acknowledge their guilt and seek my face, and in their distress earnestly seek me”.
In the outworking of the life of Esther they did “earnestly seek” God.
In Acts 21, 22 we see how the Jewish zealots, dedicated to their Law, had Paul arrested in the Temple and were “crying out, ‘Away with him’” (21:36) And today, nearly all Jews are blind to the fact that Jesus is their Messiah – indeed – it is sad that most Jews appear to be atheists.
But Zechariah prophesied that the Lord
“will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and pleas for mercy, so that, when they look on me, on him whom they have pierced, they shall mourn …” (12:10)
And then they, with us, will be ready with joy to welcome and serve the Messiah. But we are not ‘perfect’ – we need his grace – so let us “acknowledge” our shortcomings, and seek each week, each day, to make them less and less.