Scripture Ezra 9:8-9
8 But now for a brief moment favor has been shown by the Lord our God, who has left us a remnant, and given us a stake in his holy place, in order that he may brighten our eyes and grant us a little sustenance in our slavery. 9 For we are slaves; yet our God has not forsaken us in our slavery, but has extended to us his steadfast love before the kings of Persia, to give us new life to set up the house of our God, to repair its ruins, and to give us a wall in Judea and Jerusalem.
- God has allowed a remnant of people and a place in Jerusalem so that the people may have “brigthen”-ed eyes and be sustained
- They are slaves? To whom?
- God’s love is the means by which the list of tasks they are accomplishing are possible
- In the longer passage of which this is a part, the blame for their misfortunes is placed squarely on them by them
It is so easy to cast blame – even on God. To see every misfortune as due to another’s evil, ignorance, or incompetence. To betray by my thoughts and words that God is the author of my misfortune or misadventure.
Not in this passage from Ezra! The specifics are not as important as the acceptance of blame. of servitude to their actions. How am I the slave not of someone’s doing but of the chain of consequences of my previous actions? Of my previous sins? Of my own ignorance or even evil?
And to then act in spite of and out of that slavery. The returning exiles considered themselves favored by God even in the face of great challenges. They blamed themselves and their sins – and moved ahead into the different future God had for them.
God has a different future than the one into which we live on our own. A different path than the one on which we walk when we follow our gut, our desires, our self-interest. A path where are eyes are brightened. A path where we are sustained even then the rations are low and path is hard. A future that is not chained to the past but to the God who delivers and favors and loves!
O Lord who favors and brightens and loves! Even in my slavery to my faults and ignorance and habits remind me of your blessing and favor and love. I confess that I am enslaved in so many ways.. even as the bonds are broken I set my hand to the work and better future you have for me. Turn my eyes from whatever chains bind me to the rebuilding and reclaiming of your future for me, for my family and friends, for all with whom I come in contact today. In the name of the great liberator of all, Jesus, I pray. Amen.