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REFLECTION: Trembling at the Word

How serious are we when God speaks?

“Then were assembled unto me every one that trembled at the words of the God of Israel….”    (Ezra 9:4)


It had been a time for great thanksgiving. The people of Israel had returned from captivity in Babylon and through God’s goodness had safely reached Jerusalem. In answer to their earnest prayers He had delivered them from enemies and had kept them from being ambushed along the way (Ezra 8:31). Not surprisingly, sacrifices were offered in worship and in thankfulness to God for His kindness to them (Ezra 8:35). Things were looking good – or were they?


The next chapter reveals a problem that had surfaced. The leaders came to Ezra to report that God’s holy law had been disobeyed. Some of the people (and, sadly, some of the priests and Levites) had not separated themselves from the heathen nations around them. In total disregard for the clear commandments of their God, they had entered into relationships with these people and had established unequal yokes. When Ezra heard the news he was devastated and tore his clothes as a visible demonstration of his deep concern. He could hardly believe that the people of Israel should so quickly disregard the One who had lovingly cared for them in every way (Ezra 9:1-3).




How quickly we can forget God’s goodness towards us. We owe Him everything, yet we can treat His grace so lightly. While worshipping Him outwardly, we pick and choose which Scriptures we will obey, dismissing the ones that we find too restrictive for our day and age.


Like the Israelites, our failings can often be in the matter of separation. It is still possible to unite with those who are mixed up in all sorts of unholy things and are not truly separated unto the Lord. If only there were more godly and courageous leaders like Ezra today – men who felt deeply the sin and disobedience of God’s people and showed it! Instead, too many leaders weakly go along with their congregations and resort to compromise and expediency in order to remain popular. We ought to be deeply concerned where there is a low regard for the Word of God and when biblical principles are jettisoned.


It is good to see that Ezra was not alone. Some shared his concern and “trembled at the words of the God of Israel” (v.4). They came and sat with Ezra, united by a common, heart-felt fear of the Lord.




There is a tremendous need today for leaders like Ezra with a passion for godliness. If they are prepared to stand alone, others will join them – not many perhaps, but those who are sincere about obeying the Word of God. The disobedient will be absent, for they never relish an uncompromising exposition of Scripture. We may well ask ourselves – do we tremble at the Word of God? The Scriptures are not for our amusement but for our obedience. In this light-hearted day when laughter and applause regularly punctuate many a sermon, will we be among those who come with a serious godly concern to sit down under the authority of the Word of God and regulate our lives by it?