And Shechaniah the son of Jehiel, one of the sons of Elam, answered and said unto Ezra, We have trespassed against our God, and have taken strange wives of the people of the land: yet now there is hope in Israel concerning this thing. Now therefore let us make a covenant with our God to put away all the wives, and such as are born of them, according to the counsel of my lord, and of those that tremble at the commandment of our God; and let it be done according to the law. Arise; for this matter belongeth unto thee: we also will be with thee: be of good courage, and do it.
There is hope for us, as well, no matter what sin we’ve fallen into. But first we must recognize that we have sinned. It’s not just about something being wrong according to some man-made designation or our own idea of right and wrong. It’s something that God says is wrong. It’s something He doesn’t like or doesn’t want for us, something He’s told us not to do. We have to see our sin, more than anything, as being against God Himself in order to understand the true severity of it. Our sovereign God made a command, and we broke it, and that’s a pretty serious thing.
After we recognize our sin, we must repent of it. We recommit ourselves to God by turning away from that sin and removing whatever we have to from our lives. The Israelites had married wives from the nations around them who then caused them to participate in their ungodly behaviors and turn away from God back to those idols of old. Once they realized what they had done, they sought to make it right. Likewise, we must be willing to put away some things that we know are displeasing to God in our lives.
And after all this, the people were willing to ensure they were doing things according to the law. There was a restoration of following God’s way. These kinds of experiences can often leave us with a more tender heart and a greater diligence to following closely after God. Our sin has grieved us and grieved Him, and once that relationship is restored, it pains us to sever that by sinning again. And sometimes it takes these painful failures to help us see that God’s way is the right way and the best way, and then that strengthens our commitment to Him further.
We all sin in different ways, but we are not left hopeless. In Ezra’s day, atonement could be made for sin through the sacrifices, and today we have our hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. He has paid our penalty. He was the sacrifice, and now we can be completely forgiven. So let’s take our sin seriously, recognizing it for what it is, repenting of it, and then recommitting ourselves to following all of God’s ways.