Ezra 9:9 is in the middle of Ezra’s prayer to God after hearing that the people of Israel had not separated themselves from the people of the lands around them, like they had been commanded to do. They had married strange wives, those who were not Jews. And Ezra confessed their sins to the Lord, hoping for mercy from the Lord to break up these unapproved marriages.
In Ezra 9:9, Ezra is thanking God that, though Judah had been in bondage since the time of Nebuchadnezzar, God had granted them mercy in the sight of the kings of Persia, who were now ruling. They were allowed to return to Jerusalem and Judah by Cyrus’ decree. They had been able to rebuild the temple and the wall and to repair the desolations that remained after Nebuchadnezzar had destroyed Jerusalem.
This portion of Ezra’s prayer is typical of what God does for us when we are saved. We, like Judah, were bondmen. We were in bondage to sin, Jn 8:32-36. But God had mercy on us, Titus 3:5, and saved us. He gave us a reviving, Eph 2:1. We are like the prodigal son, whose father said, “this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found,” Lk 15:24.
But that’s not the end of the story. After the reviving there is more for us to do. After the reviving:
We must set up the house of God – 1 Cor 6:19-20 – your body is now the temple of the Holy Ghost. You have to make your body a suitable house for the Lord. When Judah returned to Jerusalem, there wasn’t anything left of the former house. It had been destroyed. So, they had to start over from the foundation. In Ezra 3:10-13, the builders laid the foundation of the temple. And that’s how you need to start your temple for the Lord. You need to start with a good foundation in Jesus Christ, in the words of God, and in a good local church, Eph 2:20-22, Eph 4:11-16.
When you start seeing development in the temple, there will be both shouting for joy and weeping for remembrance, just like the ancients wept in Ezra 3:12. If you ruined your life with sin before you were saved, there is the joy that you are now free and serving the Lord. But there is also sadness that your house is not what it could have been if you hadn’t wasted those years in sin. Nevertheless, you do get an opportunity to start over. And you should do everything possible to make this house for the Lord as good and clean as you possibly can by God’s grace. This is his house now. Cut out everything that doesn’t belong in the house of God. Get rid of it.
We must repair the desolations – Lk 15:18-21 – there are many things you did in your past that messed up your relationships. These need to be repaired, as much as possible. You have hurt some people badly. And you must do what you can to restore these relationships. You should repent. You should apologize. You should make restitution. You should extend favor and blessing to them. You should live righteously and wait patiently for them to accept you back into their lives. You hurt them deeply and they deserve the space and time they need to heal. They need to see that you are not the same person that hurt them in the past. They need to see that your life in Christ has really changed you into a new man. Trust takes years to build and even longer to rebuild after it has been broken. So, do all that the Lord directs you to do to repair the desolations. You cannot just pick up with your life in Christ and not address these things from your past.
We must build the wall – 2 Cor 6:14-18 – when you are saved, you are no longer of the world. You are God’s child now. Therefore, you must separate from the worldly influences that led you astray in the first place. You must separate from the filthiness of the heathen of the land, Ezra 6:21. It takes a wall to do this. You build the wall to keep you in and the world out. Nehemiah tells about what was required of those men to build that wall around Jerusalem. They had to contend with the rubbish of the old wall and the adversaries that didn’t want them to build a wall to keep them out. It was tough going. But they succeeded. And you must, too. You wall out every relationship and worldly influence that can lead you back into the old life from which God saved you. It’s going to be hard for you to sever some of these relationships. But you will never make it if you don’t. You will end up just being a profane Christian, with one foot in and one foot out. Men and women like that never really amount to much for God.
Conclusion: thank God that you are saved now. Thank God that he has given you new life. He’s given you a reviving. But now it’s up to you to set up the house of God, to repair the desolations, and to build your wall. The sooner you get started on these things, the better off you’re going to be in the long run. Get started today.