In 539 BC King Cyrus of Persia captured Babylon and soon thereafter issued a proclamation freeing the Israelites in Babylonian captivity to return to their homeland. The first wave of exiles returned to Jerusalem and started rebuilding the temple in 536 BC and construction was completed in 516 BC.
Ezra, a priest and scribe, wanted to return to Jerusalem to teach the returning exiles the commands and statutes of God (vs. 7:10). Ezra departed Babylon and arrived in Jerusalem leading a second wave of exiles in 458 BC during the reign of King Artaxerxes of Persia.
Upon arriving in Judah, Ezra discovered that God’s people were pretty much “breaking bad.” In the time since the return of the first exiles, about 60 some years, many of them were intermarrying with the non-Jewish inhabitants of the land and practicing idolatry.
They were involved in the same sin as their forefathers that had caused their captivity in the first place!
This breaking of faith was particularly egregious because it involved some of the priests and other religious leaders (vs. 9:2).
So, Ezra began to mourn, pray, and confess the sin of Israel to God. And, while Ezra was praying, a great assembly of people came forward and acknowledged their sin and called upon the mercy of God to forgive them. They had hope for restoration even though they had broken faith with God.
If you have gone from being the protagonist to the antagonist of your own faith, from proponent to opponent, from faithful to faithless, there is still hope for you because God is steadfast in His love for you. In fact, God’s mercy is near, His grace is abounding, and your restoration is at hand.
Repent and abandon your willful ways. And, God in His great love and mercy will forgive you and restore you to Himself.
“If anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.” (Galatians 6:1, ESV)