Posted by: Bill Hornbeck | December 25, 2015

“He has filled the hungry with good things; And sent away the rich empty-handed.”

Today’s devotion comes from Ezra chapter 9.

“1 Now when these things had been completed, the princes approached me, saying, “The people of Israel and the priests and the Levites have not separated themselves from the peoples of the lands, according to their abominations, those of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Jebusites, the Ammonites, the Moabites, the Egyptians and the Amorites.  2 For they have taken some of their daughters as wives for themselves and for their sons, so that the holy race has intermingled with the peoples of the lands;  indeed, the hands of the princes and the rulers have been foremost in this unfaithfulness.”  3 When I heard about this matter, I tore my garment and my robe, and pulled some of the hair from my head and my beard, and sat down appalled.  4 Then everyone who trembled at the words of the God of Israel on account of the unfaithfulness of the exiles gathered to me, and I sat appalled until the evening offering.

5 But at the evening offering I arose from my humiliation, even with my garment and my robe torn, and I fell on my knees and stretched out my hands to the Lord my God;  6 and I said, “O my God, I am ashamed and embarrassed to lift up my face to You, my God, for our iniquities have risen above our heads and our guilt has grown even to the heavens. 7 Since the days of our fathers to this day we have been in great guilt, and on account of our iniquities we, our kings and our priests have been given into the hand of the kings of the lands, to the sword, to captivity and to plunder and to open shame, as it is this day.  8 But now for a brief moment grace has been shown from the Lord our God, to leave us an escaped remnant and to give us a peg in His holy place, that our God may enlighten our eyes and grant us a little reviving in our bondage.  9 For we are slaves;  yet in our bondage our God has not forsaken us, but has extended lovingkindness to us in the sight of the kings of Persia, to give us reviving to raise up the house of our God, to restore its ruins and to give us a wall in Judah and Jerusalem.

10 “Now, our God, what shall we say after this?  For we have forsaken Your commandments, 11 which You have commanded by Your servants the prophets, saying, ‘The land which you are entering to possess is an unclean land with the uncleanness of the peoples of the lands, with their abominations which have filled it from end to end and with their impurity. 12 So now do not give your daughters to their sons nor take their daughters to your sons, and never seek their peace or their prosperity, that you may be strong and eat the good things of the land and leave it as an inheritance to your sons forever.’  13 After all that has come upon us for our evil deeds and our great guilt, since You our God have requited us less than our iniquities deserve, and have given us an escaped remnant as this, 14 shall we again break Your commandments and intermarry with the peoples who commit these abominations?  Would You not be angry with us to the point of destruction, until there is no remnant nor any who escape?  15 O Lord God of Israel, You are righteous, for we have been left an escaped remnant, as it is this day;  behold, we are before You in our guilt, for no one can stand before You because of this.”  Ezra chapter 9.

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We tend to proudly march into Christmas thinking that God is well-pleased with us because of our self-righteousness and that we deserve joy and peace.

Especially on Christmas day, it is good to read today’s Scripture and humble ourselves and confess our sins.

In addition to Ezra’s humility and prayer of confession, let us consider Mary’s Magnificat (song of thanksgiving, magnifying the Lord, when she visited Elizabeth).

“46 And Mary said:

“My soul exalts the Lord,
47 And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.
48 “For He has had regard for the humble state of His bondslave;
For behold, from this time on all generations will count me blessed.
49 “For the Mighty One has done great things for me;
And holy is His name.
50 “And His mercy is upon generation after generation
Toward those who fear Him.
51 “He has done mighty deeds with His arm;
He has scattered those who were proud in the thoughts of their heart.
52 “He has brought down rulers from their thrones,
And has exalted those who were humble.
53 “He has filled the hungry with good things;
And sent away the rich empty-handed.
54 “He has given help to Israel His servant,
In remembrance of His mercy,
55 As He spoke to our fathers,
To Abraham and his descendants forever.”  Luke 1:46-55.

 

Are we proud in the thoughts of our heart?

Or, are we humble like Ezra and Mary?

Do we act as rulers on our thrones?

Or, do we act like shepherds in the field?

Are we rich with all the gifts already in our hands that we opened on Christmas Eve?

Or, are we hungry for some spiritual good things this Christmas day?

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