Our culture has oversimplified the salvation message of God to prayer of salvation and a trip to heaven. He wants so much more for us than that. He wants to walk with us! That has always been His plan for us. If we go to heaven, then the purpose is not to live in luxury and walk the streets of gold. The purpose is that we might be with Him where He is!
At some point during this time of weeping, someone got up and began looking to the future. He proclaims that there is still hope! He proposes that a covenant be made…an agreement between two parties. The assumption is that they are renewing the covenant that the people had with God when he delivered them out of Egypt, “Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’” (Exodus 19:5-6a).
From the beginning, this passage of scripture makes me nervous. Ezra obviously becomes very upset after the leaders come to him about this unfaithfulness. However, I have seen this passage of scripture and ones like it misinterpreted so often that I can feel the tension in the room as soon as I read the text. For some, the proper interpretation eases the tension a little. However, for many of us the right interpretation is even more challenging and convicting.
Because of what Christ did in renewing our hope and giving us the crown of beauty, the oil of joy, and the garment of praise, we can now rebuild the ruins! He doesn’t rebuild them for us. Rather, He equips us for the rebuilding. He calls us to rebuild! In His power, the messes that we have made by turning away from the Lord can be made like new. Even the messes that have been in our family for generations...addictions, abuse, attitudes, anger, and unforgiveness…can be healed in power of Christ. The ruins can be rebuilt. This is good news!