And at the evening sacrifice I arose up from my heaviness; and having rent my garment and my mantle, I fell on my knees…
I. That the sight of sin AWAKENS WITHIN THE GOOD MAN A SPIRIT OF EARNEST PRAYER. "I fell upon my knees, and spread out my hands unto the Lord my God" (ver. 5).
1. The humility of the prayer. Ezra fell upon his knees in deepest self-abasement; he did not stand erect like the Pharisee in the temple, but smote upon his breast like the publican (Luke 18:13). Surely the sin of God's chosen people could not but inspire humility within the patriot.
2. The earnestness of the prayer. Ezra spread out his hands in earnest entreaty before God; the solemnity of the circumstance awakened him to holy fervour. At such a time a lifeless prayer could be of no avail.
3. The direction of the prayer. Ezra directed his prayer to the Lord his God; he felt the vanity of human help, and that God only could avert the consequence of their transgression. A sense of sin should lead to God.
4. The personal claim of the prayer. "My God," "O my God."
II. THAT THE SIGHT OF SIN AWAKENS WITHIN THE GOOD MAN A SENSE OF SHAME. "I am ashamed and blush to lift up my face to thee, my God: for our iniquities are increased over our head, and our trespass is grown up unto the heavens (ver. 6). He is ashamed -
1. Because he is morally sensitive to sin. Purity is sensitive to evil.
2. Because he understands the true nature of sin. "Our iniquities," "our trespass."
3. Because he realises the magnitude of sin. "Our iniquities are increased over our head, and our trespass is grown up to heaven." Sin brings shame; this the good man feels.
III. THAT THE SIGHT OF SIN AWAKENS WITHIN THE GOOD MAN MEMORIES OF SORROW. "And for our iniquities have we, our kings, and our priests, been delivered into the hand of the kings of the lands, to the sword, to captivity, and to a spoil" (ver. 7).
1. A memory of degradation. Sin will send kings and priests into degrading captivity.
2. A memory of cruelty. Sin delivers men as to the sword.
3. A memory of bondage. Sin is slavery.
4. A memory of loss. Sin spoils men of their best treasures. The history of sin is a history of sorrow, and the sight of sin calls up to the mind of the good man sad memories.
IV. THAT THE SIGHT OF SIN AWAKENS WITHIN THE GOOD MAN THE THOUGHT OF THE GOVERNMENT OF GOD.
1. Its mercy. "And now for a little space grace hath been showed from the Lord our God" (vers. 8, 9).
2. Its fidelity. "Yet our God hath not forsaken us in our bondage" (ver. 9).
3. Its forbearance. "Seeing that thou our God hast punished us less than our iniquities deserve" (ver. 13). This life is not the scene of complete punishment.
4. Its delay. "For we remain." Sin is not immediately punished in this life.
5. Its rectitude. "O Lord God of Israel, thou art righteous" (ver. 15). "Its retribution. "For we cannot stand before thee because of this" (ver. 15). Thus Ezra viewed the sin of Israel in its relation to the moral government of God. - E.
Parallel VersesKJV: And at the evening sacrifice I arose up from my heaviness; and having rent my garment and my mantle, I fell upon my knees, and spread out my hands unto the LORD my God,