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, (9:8).
This was definitely not a chapter requiring a lot of hunting and digging in order to see Him increase off the page. Repentance and confession have a tendency to do that, exalt Him high above man. For in repentance, in the turning away from sin and turning to Him, He is magnified.
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, (9:5-6).
And confession is not merely voicing our wrongdoings. Confession comes as the result of realizing His great truths, mostly about Him; realizing His holiness, righteousness and justice; realizing that He alone is worthy of worship. And in light of His excellence and perfection, we see ourselves, depraved and helpless. And through repentance and confession, we thankfully see His grace and the great and marvelous truths of Him Who Enlightens Our Eyes.
Consider Him Who Enlightens Our Eyes
- He Enlightens Our Eyes that we would be appalled at sin.
- 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, (9:3).
- He Enlightens Our Eyes that we would tremble at His Words.
- 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 (9:4).
- He Enlightens Our Eyes that we would approach Him in abject humility.
- 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 (9:5).
- He Enlightens Our Eyes that we would see the guilt of our sin.
- 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,” (9:6).
- He Enlightens Our Eyes that we would own our blame and shame.
- “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,” (9:7).
- He Enlightens Our Eyes that we would know the grace and security of His Presence.
- “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…” (9:8).
- He Enlightens Our Eyes that we would be revived out of bondage.
- “…that our God may enlighten our eyes and grant us a little reviving in our bondage,” (9:8).
- He Enlightens Our Eyes that we would receive His lovingkindness and hope.
- “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,” (9:9).
- He Enlightens Our Eyes that we would willingly confess our sins.
- “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…” (9:10-11).
- He Enlightens Our Eyes that we would understand the magnitude of His grace and mercy.
- “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,” (9:13).
- He Enlightens Our Eyes that we would set ourselves apart unto Him.
- “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?” (9:14).
- He Enlightens Our Eyes that we would comprehend that He alone is Righteous and Holy.
- “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,” (9:15).
How do we respond to Him Who Enlightens Our Eyes?
“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,” (9:8-9).
This brief moment could describe that instant when the understanding of His extended grace becomes clear, as though all at once. Or perhaps it is a reference to the allotted time we have on this earth to receive His grace, a very short window of time, especially in the span of eternity.
Whether or not Ezra is referring to a brief opportunity to acknowledge and submit to His grace, or if he is explaining these times in light of eternity is not the point. What is the point is this, in these brief moments, when we hear and see His truth, we must respond.
It is a sad and unfortunate fact; we take sin far too lightly. In our nation, our culture, our communities, and even in our churches, the idea of addressing sin and the need for repentance has become taboo. As we take time today to consider Him Who Enlightens Our Eyes, let us ask Him to open our eyes to areas of sin in our own life that we are either blind to, or ignoring altogether.
Search me, O God, and know my heart;
Try me and know my anxious thoughts;
24 And see if there be any hurtful way in me,
And lead me in the everlasting way, (Psalm 139:23-24).
And as He reveals areas that are hurtful, because they are against Him and His ways, let us follow David’s example of humble confession; in desperate dependence on His grace alone for forgiveness, may we acknowledge the fact that our own sin is always against Holy God.
Be gracious to me, O God, according to Your lovingkindness;
According to the greatness of Your compassion blot out my transgressions.
2 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity
And cleanse me from my sin.
3 For I know my transgressions,
And my sin is ever before me.
4 Against You, You only, I have sinned
And done what is evil in Your sight,
So that You are justified when You speak
And blameless when You judge, (Psalm 51:1-4).
And after we have repented and confessed the log in our own spiritual eye that prevents us from seeing truth, let us then beg, in humble and ardent intercession, for those in need to see His truth, to see Him Who Enlightens Our Eyes.
“Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye,” (Matthew 7:3-5).
As the saying goes, “Desperate times call for desperate measures.” We are indeed in desperate times! Oh, that we would acknowledge our desperate need for cleansing and pray in humble desperation for what He alone can do through the blood of Jesus and the power of His Holy Spirit; that He would turn to us to Enlighten Our Eyes.
“and My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land,” (2 Chronicles 7:14).
“to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in Me,” (Acts 26:18).
And let us pray that we would grow to become like Ezra, to teach others the message of the precious lovingkindness of God, Who draws us to the Light of the World, His Son, that He might Enlighten Our Eyes.
How precious is Your lovingkindness, O God!
And the children of men take refuge in the shadow of Your wings.
8 They drink their fill of the abundance of Your house;
And You give them to drink of the river of Your delights.
9 For with You is the fountain of life;
In Your light we see light, (Psalm 36:7-9).
Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life,” (John 8:12).
Let us pray He will use us to share His heart for the lost, that they might turn to Jesus, the Light of the World, and live.
“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life,” (John 5:24).
And let us commit to pray for His people, and ourselves; that He would grow us in our knowledge and understanding of the hope we have through our inheritance and the surpassing power of Him Who Enlightens Our Eyes.
I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe… (Ephesians 1:18-19).
And as He empowers us in our knowledge and understanding of the sure hope we have in Him, let us daily commit, that in every brief moment, we will depend upon His grace to walk in Him Who Enlightens Our Eyes.
for you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light, (Ephesians 5:8).