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After the Temple was rebuilt in the time of Zerubbabel and Jeshua, many more of God’s People living in Babylon came back to God’s City: priests, Levites, musicians, gatekeepers and Temple servants, as well as a priest named Ezra.
Ezra was a good teacher who knew very well the Rules God had given to Moses. He had devoted himself to studying, obeying, and teaching God’s Law. And the gracious hand of God was on him.
One day, the leaders came to Ezra and told him that some of the people were living in sin. Some of the people had some disobedient and ungodly relationships. They’d been mixing themselves up with the world when God had always wanted them Holy and set apart as special for Him.
When Ezra heard this, he tore his clothes. He pulled out some of his hair. He told God how ashamed and sorry he was that the people were sinning so terribly. And he plopped down on the ground, appalled at the disobedience of the people.
When some of the people heard Ezra crying, they too started to cry and said, “Yes, we’re wrong, and we promise to change.”
Then the people came together and talked openly about exactly who needed to change what. And then they did. They repented. Repentance isn’t just saying you’re going to change. It’s also DOING SOMETHING DIFFERENTLY. It’s getting rid of sin, turning around, and going in the opposite direction.
Pick something right now to walk toward, like a door or a chair. Now STOP. Turn half way around to face the other way! Now walk! That is changing directions. And repentance is kind of like that. Being sorry when we’re wrong. Then changing directions about it.
The people’s repentance involved some very specific and painful choices, but they chose to love and obey God.
And do you know what? Repentance and allowing your heart to be rebuilt by God, opens the door for some more rebuilding possibilities (as you’re about to see in the next story).