When Ezra returns to Jerusalem he learns that the people of Judah, including leaders, have intermarried with the women of the nations around them who worship false gods. Since historically intermarriage with someone who practices pagan worship leads the people away from the Lord, this news is very upsetting to Ezra who has a heart for the Lord and for the people to follow Him.
Ezra prays a prayer of repentance for the remnant that God saved by grace and says, “Here we are before You, in our guilt, though no one can stand before You because of this!” Then the people mourn greatly over their sin against God and a leader speaks on their behalf saying, “We have trespassed against our God, and have taken pagan wives from the peoples of the land, yet now there is hope in Israel in spite of this.” He asks Ezra to lead them in putting away their pagan wives and in renewing the covenant with their God. So over a period of time, Ezra helps the people dissolve these marriages and return to the Lord.
Next we meet Nehemiah, a Jew in exile who has risen to power in the Persian Empire. He hears that the people in Judah are in distress and that the wall of Jerusalem is broken down. “So I prayed to the God of heaven. And I said to the king, ’If it pleases the king, and if your servant has found favor in your sight, I ask that you send me to Judah, to the city of my fathers’ tombs, that I may rebuild it.’” So Nehemiah leads the 3rd and final wave of captives back to Jerusalem and says, “The God of heaven Himself will prosper us; therefore we His servants will arise and build.”
Tomorrow they begin rebuilding the wall of Jerusalem but once again are faced with opposition. Keep reading to see what happens.
(Ezra 9:1-10:44, Nehemiah 1:1-2:20)