(September 29, 2014)
There are times when the Old Testament is a struggle to try and make applicable to my life, but this is not one of those times. As I read these chapters, I really felt a great deal of applicability of what I was reading into what I am experiencing in my life right now.
First, I was struck by the languages of Ezra and others concerning their reading of the Law to the people of
Jerusalem. The people, recognizing their sins and
wickedness before God (having received the Law, and understanding how significantly
they had deviated from it), were justifiably sorrowful for their actions. But Ezra, being wiser, taught them that they
should not weep. After all, this was a
day of joy – it began with them in wickedness and in ignorance of the Law, and
it ended with them having understanding.
I have felt to weep for my mistakes as well. But, while I am often mournful about my situation I don’t often mourn my mistakes the way that I thought I should. In fact, I actually have felt guilty about not feeling as guilty as I thought I should – my mistakes were plentiful and significant. But I realize, reading this chapter, that I am experiencing just what Ezra was teaching the people of Jerusalem – yes, my sins were significant, but today is a day of rejoicing rather than regret, because the Law that I was violating I now understand and am keeping.
This made my think of my own life and the pattern of the children of
Israel. I have often done this with the Book of
Mormon, but never as much with the Bible. But I see how appropriate it is. Like the Israelites, I was blessed to be in a
covenant relationship with the Lord. But
I didn’t live that covenant like I should, and I violated it in ways big and
small for a long period of time. The
Lord would send people to teach me (like the prophets in ancient Israel),
and I would from time-to-time turn back to Him, only to return to my sins
Eventually, the Lord for my benefit ceased to protect me from the consequences of my sins. I was fully taken into bondage, and everything that I once valued I lost. Like the Israelites, I realized in bondage just what I had squandered – I was fortunate enough to turn to the Lord in my extremity rather than turning away. Over time, He has brought me back and freed me from my bondage. What was lost may never be regained, but I am nonetheless blessed beyond measure by Him.