Prayer for the day
There is forgiveness with you; therefore you shall be feared.
Scripture for the day
In modern parlance, “left behind” is not something most aspire to. For Evangelicals, it calls up scenes from scary movies where Jesus has called the faithful home and the others have been left behind to deal with the devastation. We fear that our children will be left behind in the school system, that we will be left behind when it comes time for promotion, or that we will be left behind in the race to amass wealth and personal status.
Yet in the story of Ezra, the “left behind” are those who remain, the remnant of all those who set out in exile from Judah. The left behind are the group who are coming back to their home, defeated but elated that God has chosen to revive them, to give them back what once was theirs. Yet a problem remains with the left behind. They have forgotten what faithfulness means, what holiness means, to their God, and have intermarried. They have been waiting for a good return, but in the meantime they have sinned egregiously by “mixing stock” with the surrounding nations. This is not God’s anger at interracial marriages, but God’s insistence on a set apart, a holy, people, a people who will follow God and not the gods of the surrounding nations. They must deeply repent.
Contrasting the people of Israel are the disciples who are left after Jesus returns to the Father. They, unlike the children of Israel, are praying, fasting, seeking the things of God, anxiously awaiting their next “marching orders.” They, the remnant of the followers of Jesus, are seeking to be faithful in the face of difficult circumstances, and they are about to be rewarded beyond their imagination with the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Let us be the kind of people who wait in faithfulness, a remnant prepared for the return of the Lord.