750px-NY-419.svg419 words.

That is the total length of the prayer of repentance out of the mouth of Ezra when he arrived in Jerusalem and saw the rampant sin that had already infected God’s newly-released people.

Ezra was a priest and a scribe and was commissioned by Darius, King of Persia, to travel with a second group of Israelites from Babylon to Jerusalem – joining with the original group which had left with Zerubbabel – for the purpose of helping reestablish the Law into the lives of the people and their newly rebuild Temple (Ezra 7).

Upon arriving in Jerusalem, after about a 4 ½ month journey, Ezra found this original group completely mixed with the pagan cultures living around them. (This may seem petty to us – but if you remember, it was this exact mindset which eventually led the people to adopt their idol worship and vile sacrifices to false gods (such as burning their own children and temple prostitution). So this is a big issue. When Ezra finds out about this – he is grieved. He tears his garments. He plucks out his beard and hair. He then sits in astonishment for the rest of the day, (all signs of inward mourning over a great calamity – Joshua 7:6; 1 Sam 4:12; etc). That is quite a reaction!

Which brings up a great point for us to ponder…

Is this how you react to sin… yours or someone elses?

Do you react with grief and mourning when you find out someone who should know better is living in unrepentant sin – or do you easily dismiss it or ignore it?

After his day of mourning – Ezra immediately falls upon his face and prays a prayer. (Ezra 9:6-15).

419 words.

He doesn’t mince words or attempt to justify the actions of his people – but instead uses words like “ashamed” and “blush” (vs 6). He doesn’t blame God for their situation, but attributes the recent decades of calamity and heartache to sin just like this (vs 7). He acknowledges that God has shown them great grace by causing Cyprus to release them (vs 8 & 13).

Ezra didn’t hide it – didn’t excuse it – didn’t write a new doctrine to justify it… he repented and was grieved. Then he stood up and led the people in undoing the damage – correcting the error (not an easy thing to do… but necessary) – and then doing things the correct way.

That is what true repentance brings… correction and then resolve to turn from that sin.

The end result of those 419 words is that the entire nation repented and turned back to the Lord. The Temple worship was re-established and the city of Jerusalem was strengthened in preparation for the next phase… the rebuilding of the walls under the leadership of Nehemiah.

First repentance and the Temple (Ezra) – then the rebuilding of the walls (Nehemiah).

And it all started with 419 words.

Be Fruitful & Multiply,