Grace for Another Chance
Now, our God, what can we say in light of this? For we have abandoned the commandments You gave through Your servants the prophets, saying: “The land you are entering to possess is an impure land. The surrounding peoples have filled it from end to end with their uncleanness by their impurity and detestable practices. So do not give your daughters to their sons in marriage or take their daughters for your sons. Never seek their peace or prosperity, so that you will be strong, eat the good things of the land, and leave it as an inheritance to your sons forever.”
Ezra was confessing Israel’s sin before God after the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem. He acknowledged that the nation and sinned, and God had sent them into slavery because of it. He also recognized the grace God was now extending to the nation by allowing them to return to Jerusalem to rebuild the wall and the temple. He could see God’s restoring hand at work, but it would mean nothing if they did not acknowledge their sin and turn from it.
God’s grace is designed to help us overcome sin and not to continue in it. Grace is not a license to sin nor a reward for enduring sin’s punishment. Grace is an opportunity for another chance to do the right thing and avoid the consequences that come with sin. Grace is never the option to sin without consequence.
God had warned Israel that the Promised Land she was about to possess was full of uncleanness and impurity. God’s intentions were for Israel to possess the land. If Israel were not careful, the land would defile her and possess her, instead. Israel chose to indulge by intermarrying and making commitments to foreign gods, thereby defiling the nation. As Matthew 6:24 explains, you cannot serve two masters with complete integrity. You will love one and hate the other. Israel came to love the foreign gods because of what they thought these gods did for them. As a result, they forfeited the protection God gave them from their enemies.
We all have a Promised Land where God intends to take us. For some, possessing that land may take a long time, as it did for the Israelites, who wandered 40 years in the wilderness. We must remember that the land where God is taking us is filled with uncleanness and impurity. God’s desire is for us to possess the land and not for the land to possess us. We must be so established in our faith that we clearly recognize right from wrong and are willing to eliminate anything we know is wrong and not be willing to flirt with its charm.
We’ve seen this in many child actors who have entered the entertainment field as wholesome, even Christian, young people. As success overtook them, they fell prey to its lure and became addicted to the enticements fame and fortune provide. In the end, we’ve seen many fall as evil gained a stronghold in young, talented lives that seemed to have it all.
Perhaps you are waiting to enter your Promised Land. Be willing to take dominion over it by setting boundaries that keep the lure of sin from possessing you. If you have entered a Promised Land and fallen prey to sin’s lure, realize that God is extending grace to you today. Turn to Him, and cut off every opportunity for sin to take advantage of you. Grace is another chance to get things right and to live the life God created you to live in Christ. When your land possesses you, your children inherit a life of slavery. If you possess your land, your children inherit God-given prosperity. Dare to possess your land, and give your children the very best – the blessings of grace.
Have a blessed day!