They had lost it all. Having crossed the Jordan to claim the land God promised them, Israel had enjoyed abundant blessing from the One who called them His own people. Under Joshua’s leadership, they drove out almost all of the heathen influence around them in obedience to God’s direction for their own spiritual and physical protection.
But time and sin became Satan’s tools to tear down the nation God had established. Idol practices of other cultures crept in and stole their allegiance to the only true God. Soon they looked like everyone else—sometimes worse—abandoning the truth for temporary pleasures.
Israel’s spiritual adultery cost her everything. Hardened to God’s repeated warnings through His prophets, Israel found herself divided, then conquered and forced into exile by enemy nations.
They had sinned deeply. Repeatedly. And now they had broken families and bankrupt lives to show for it. They had drifted so far from the only One who really made life good. Now, they feared, they had angered Him to the point of no return.
But they still didn’t grasp God’s heart. His incredible compassion. And His relentless determination to bless and be with His people despite their infidelity. Yet in the book of Ezra, the people begin to see the miracle. First, Persia’s king suddenly commands that God’s temple in Jerusalem be rebuilt by her people, a project funded by his own treasury. Then God stirred the spirits of His people from all over to come restore what had been lost. Even while under foreign rule, God united His people once more through His call to worship. As their priorities aligned with His, the people remembered their true purpose. Just as their bodies had journeyed from distant places back to home, so had their hearts. So, when Ezra read the Scriptures, they no longer sneered. They tore their clothes in true repentance and ripped out the sin that had separated them from God. The remnant had come full circle, and the center was God.
The same miracle happens for every remorseful child of God. Ezra tells us there is no place too far from home that we can’t return. God always invites us back, love, forgiveness and fellowship blazing, when we repent and turn our face fully toward Him.