Ezra 7 recorded another group returning to Jerusalem from captivity. King Artaxerxes gave Ezra permission to go and take them. Ezra 8:21 says, “Then I proclaimed a fast there at the river of Ahava, that we might humble ourselves before our God, to seek from Him the right way for us and our little ones and all our possessions.”
Verse 31 said that the Lord delivered them from the hand of the enemy and from ambush along the road. In Ezra 9:1 the leaders told Ezra that there had been intermarriage with the pagans. Ezra responded. Verse 3 says, “…I tore my garment and my robe, and plucked out some of the hair of my head and beard, and sat down astonished.”
Verse 6 was his prayer. Notice how he included himself though he was not part of the sin against God and His commands. It says, “…O my God, I am too ashamed and humiliated to lift up my face to You, my God; for our iniquities have risen higher than our heads, and our guilt has grown up to the heavens.” Verse 15 says, “…Here we are before You, in our guilt, though no one can stand before You because of this!”
It is good to remember that when Achan sinned, everyone of the children of Israel were affected. They could not stand up against their enemies. We are in this situation right now with our nation. The heart of an intercessor is humble. They stand in the gap before God on behalf of another (Ezekiel 22:30). They acknowledge corporate sin as their own.
The result of the intermarriage in Ezra’s day was for the men to put away their pagan wives and children. What do we need to put away in our personal lives, in our states, and in our nation? That answer is too big. What we can do is keep our hearts humble, and confess those sins as though they are our own. Ezra and Nehemiah are great examples for us. We must fight on our knees with bowed hearts.