In the seventh month of the year, the law prescribed an assembly to observe the “Feast of Trumpets.” Ezra used that occasion to read before the people the law of the Lord – which made them sad because they recognized how greatly they had failed to live up to it.
In their second day of Bible study, Ezra got to the part of observing the Feast of Tabernacles and, realizing how long it had been since such a feast had been observed, preparations were made for it. It was to be a week-long affair, but the revival meeting didn’t end on time. Some were so engrossed in what they were learning that they stayed beyond the twenty-second day. Considering all they had been through, it seemed an appropriate time to renew their commitment to God.
In Chapter nine, we have the preamble of their commitment. It rehearses Israel’s past to their present time, and in reading it several things are striking. First, it mentions nothing of the sins of the worshipers. It mostly refers to the sins of their forefathers. They are not saying: ‘our forefathers were bad, but we are not.’ They were connecting their lives to those of their forefathers. They recognized Israel’s status as a community.
Christian people are prone to “beginning anew” far too often. Churches split and new groups are formed (note the proliferation of “Bible” churches that maintain a distinction from their theological forebears). But we all have a common heritage, and no matter the failings of previous generations, we are one with them and we are who we are because of them. We cannot begin without their influence – which is why we so often fall back into the sins of old. We never learned their lessons.
But second, notice how God is described. He is the life-giving creator, the covenant maker and promise keeper. He is the compassionate deliverer and benevolent law-giver – all traits that show up in how He treats sinful Israel.
On the basis of what they know about God, and what they know about their past and present, Israel is moved to repentance and making a new commitment to God (chapter ten).