(Please note that the Scripture reading begins in the audio at 1:02; some of the announcements were added to the beginning of the recording by accident.)
Every time a train pulls into a station in London’s subway system—the Underground—a voice over the loudspeaker tells riders to “mind the gap,” acknowledging that riders could stumble and fall as they step on or off the train. In Ezra 9, Ezra is informed of Israel’s sin and “minds the gap.” He confesses his nation’s sin, acknowledging to God the gap between what his Word says and what they actually do. This passage teaches us about the nature of confession of our sin.
1. Broken by Sin
How does Ezra become so broken by his sin? First, the Word of God broke in (Heb. 4:12); that Word declared the people’s sin clearly; and this led to Ezra’s brokenness and humility before God (Ezra 9:3-5).
2. Humbled in Prayer
Ezra’s humility in prayer reveals how much he has been broken by his sin. He is honest about his people’s sin. Most striking is the way he prays the character of God, especially his justice and mercy (Ezra 9:13-15).
3. Life in the Word
As much of a model for confession of sin as Ezra is in this passage, he is not an end in himself. We need to see the Priest to whom Ezra points, Jesus Christ. A priest who became sin for us (1 Pet. 2:24). A priest who, on the cross, united the justice and mercy of God in his sacrifice of love for us (Ps. 85:10-11). Our response to Christ should be to “repent and believe the gospel” (Mark 1:15). And that begins with confessing our sin.
Reflection & Application Questions
Do you feel that Ezra is overdoing it in his confession? Why? Is he overdoing it, or are our hearts callous to the gravity of our sin before a holy God?
When was the last time you confessed your sin to God? What did it sound like? How specific are you able and willing to get in your confession of sin?
Do you tend to emphasize the justice or the mercy of God? Why?
Do you see yourself in light of God’s reality? Do you see the gap between his Word and your life? What keeps you from seeing? Are you distracted? Busy? Unwilling? Proud?
How does a failure to be specific in our confession of sin cheapen the grace of God?
Take time this week to identify one area of sin to specifically confess to God. Ask his forgiveness. Seek practical ways to walk in repentance.