March 7 Morning Verse of The Day

9:15 Ezra’s conclusion is that even now the people live only because of God’s grace.[1]

9:15 can stand The Hebrew term used here is a legal term meaning “to be acquitted” (Pss 1:5; 130:3). None are regarded as guiltless before Yahweh.[2]

9:15 Ezra knows that God is both just and merciful. (For God as “just,” or “righteous,” see also Deut. 32:4; Ps. 119:137.) The very existence of the postexilic remnant proves his mercy; yet equally God would be justified in bringing renewed judgment on the sinful people. The prayer serves as a petition for mercy, and it prompts Ezra and his close associates to turn the people from their sin.[3]

9:15 no one can stand before You. All were reckoned guilty and had no right to stand in God’s presence, yet they came penitently seeking the grace of forgiveness.[4]

9:15. Ezra’s prayer included no specific request; he simply threw himself on God’s mercy. By this he concluded his prayer in the same way he began. He acknowledged that no one in the entire community was worthy to stand before the righteous God. In his prayer Ezra affirmed several attributes of God: grace (v. 8), kindness (v. 9), anger (v. 14), and righteousness (v. 15). Ezra was asking God to be merciful on the basis of His loyal love for the nation.[5]

Ver. 15. O Lord God of Israel, Thou art righteous; for we remain yet escaped, as it is this day: behold, we are before Thee in our trespasses: for we cannot stand before Thee because of this.Divine cordials:—

In this verse Ezra pleads guilty to the indictment, acknowledging God to be just, though He should renew His judgments afresh upon them. There be two things in it: First, his justifying God in these words, “O Lord God of Israel, Thou art righteous.” Secondly, the reason which he gives for it: First, on God’s part. He had used all possible means to bring them to reformation—“We remain yet escaped as at this day.” Secondly, on their part. They were still in their trespasses; and therefore they were the fresh fuel of God’s indignation. Before we come to these particulars, give me leave to speak a word or two of the style he gives God; he calls Him “Lord God of Israel.” The title “Lord” signifies His greatness; “the God of Israel,” His goodness. A fit preface for a prayer, for the word “Lord” is a term well befitting God. In the Holy Scripture He is said to be “strong in power, and wonderful in working.” Let it comfort God’s people: God is the Lord Almighty in power. What then shall be too hard for Him to perform with them? Lastly, it should teach us to stand in awe and not sin against God. So we come to the second, which is, that He is “the God of Israel.” And if in the first He was the greatest, then in this He is the best. I know He is “the God of all the earth” (Psa. 24:1); but more especially He is “the God of Israel.” First, by a special and peculiar worship. To them above other people He revealed how He would be worshipped. Secondly, He is the God of Israel in regard to that special care He had of them. He was a wall of fire round about them to preserve them from their enemies. Thirdly, He is the God of Israel by a special reward which He hath promised them. He said to Abraham, “I am thy exceeding great reward.” This that hath been said may assure God’s children of His affection towards them. Secondly, methinks this should take off the edge of all persecutors. Is God the God of His people? and dare they touch that which is hallowed unto God? Will they meddle with the apple of His eye? Thirdly, methinks it should teach all persecutors and all wicked men to love the people of God. How are we affected with earthly things? If we know a man whom the king favours, how do we seek to get into his favour? We will do him any service to obtain it. And are not the saints of God His favourites? Lastly, is the Lord the God of Israel? Let Israel then behave themselves as God’s people. What saith the Spirit of God in Deut. 26:18; 1 Cor. 6:20; Titus 2:14? Now we come to the particulars in the text as we laid them down. First, for the justifying of God, “Thou art righteous.” This hath been ever the practice of God’s people; they have still confessed God to be just in what He hath brought upon them. Thus doth David (Psa. 51:4; 119:137). This lets us see how the world fails in this particular. When God lays His hand on men, how apt are they to dispute with God and say, Why doth He deal thus and thus with us? Who art thou, O man, that repliest to thy Maker? Secondly, let us always be persuaded of the justice of God in all His proceedings; for though we see not the reason why He doth this or that, yet there is good reason for it. We proceed now to the reason which he gives for justifying God: “For we remain yet escaped, as it is this day.” As if he had said, “Thy goodness is demonstrate; he that runs may read it.” In general judgments which God brings upon the world, there are still some escaping. When God sent the deluge upon the world, Noah and his family perished not. In the fiery shower which God rained on Sodom and Gomorrah, Lot and his daughters perished not. What is the ground of this? First, all God’s ways are interveined with mercy. Secondly, God still spares some to bring them to repentance, that they may turn out of the crooked into the straight path. Let me advise them that have tasted of God’s mercy in this way never to forget it; and for this let me stir up my own soul to praise God with you. When my next neighbour was smitten dead, why was not I smitten also? It was only God’s mercy. What a fearful judgment it is not to profit by afflictions. It is that for which God finds great fault with His people in Deut. 29:2, 3, 4. In the second place, let us labour to profit by affliction. The last clause is, “Neither can we stand before Thee, because of this.” As if he had said, “We cannot come before Thee with any confidence while we be in our sins unrepented of.” That man that comes before God in his sins without repentance cannot come with any confidence or hope of mercy. In Prov. 28:13, mercy is promised to him that confesseth and forsaketh his sin; but wrath is pronounced against him that hideth them. (Ibid.)[6]

The praise which God deserves (9:15)

Ezra concludes his prayer with what is in effect praise of God the righteous one and a reiteration of the community’s unworthiness. The righteousness of God is at the heart of all true praise because it is both a reminder of his goodness as well as his greatness and a salutary underlining that he is in heaven and we are on earth. Even if God’s righteousness leads to the punishment of his people he is still to be praised, and Ezra does not dilute this by asking for mercy. Rather, with Abraham he believes that the Judge of all the earth will do right.

This chapter has contained little for our comfort or our desire, and as we leave it, three observations can be made. The first is that sin is insidious and affects the whole community, not simply the direct participants. These are not isolated acts which affect a few individuals and families and leave others untouched. The situation here could not have happened unless many had approved of it or at least had turned a blind eye to it. So it is today, where often as a result of our individualism and relativism a low spiritual temperature is tolerated and unbiblical practices become established.

The second is that only the persistent hearing and obeying the word of God can put the situation right. The ancient words of the earlier writers of Scripture which condemned earlier deviations must be listened to and heeded again.

The third is that there always must be a firm grasp on God’s grace. It is in love that he gave the earlier prophetic words to snatch people out of the flames of judgment. So it was in Ezra’s time and so it is today.[7]

9:15 you are righteous. Ezra acknowledges that God has been just in punishing Israel for its sin and in nevertheless leaving them a remnant as he had promised. He also acknowledges that God would be just in destroying the remnant if they continue to be unfaithful to him.[8]

15 A proper sense of God’s holiness sheds light on our unworthiness (cf. Isa 6:1–5; Lk 5:8). For comparable passages of national lament, see Psalms 44, 60, 74, 79–80, 83, 85, 90, 108, 126, 129, and 137.[9]

[1] Sproul, R. C. (Ed.). (2005). The Reformation Study Bible: English Standard Version (p. 656). Orlando, FL; Lake Mary, FL: Ligonier Ministries.

[2] Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (Ezr 9:15). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

[3] Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 819). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[4] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2006). The MacArthur study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (Ezr 9:15). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[5] Martin, J. A. (1985). Ezra. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 1, p. 670). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

[6] Exell, J. S. (n.d.). The Biblical Illustrator: First Chronicles, Second Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther (Vol. 3, pp. 66–67). New York; Chicago; Toronto: Fleming H. Revell Company.

[7] Fyall, R. (2010). The Message of Ezra and Haggai: Building for God. (A. Motyer & D. Tidball, Eds.) (pp. 128–129). England: Inter-Varsity Press.

[8] Nykolaishen, D. J. E. (2018). Ezra and Nehemiah. In M. L. Strauss & J. H. Walton (Eds.), Ezra, Nehemiah and Esther (p. 92). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books: A Division of Baker Publishing Group.

[9] Yamauchi, E. M. (2010). Ezra and Nehemiah. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: 1 Chronicles–Job (Revised Edition) (Vol. 4, p. 453). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

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