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  • Writer's pictureJonathan.Crabtree

Grace. Light. Revival. Ezra9:8

Autumn is upon us. The days are noticeably shorter, and the wind blows a little bit cooler. Summer is officially over. So that means the long (and sometimes HOT) days of sunshine into the evening are now over. Before too long, the days here in England will be EVEN significantly shorter than in the US, and the sun will set as early as 3:30 or so in the afternoon (by December 21). While there’s an energy that always follows the heels of autumn, there is a reminder of the dark cold winter days ahead when light will be a rare and welcomed treat.


I’ve noticed in England that if it’s cloudy, dark, and rainy, then there’s huge mood difference as soon as the sun shines. I think the British notice it too because as soon as it’s sun-shining folks are outside in an instant, it seems. So, while I may be thinking, “The sun will come out tomorrow,” in England, “the sun will come out in a moment.” When it does, my mood changes dramatically. I know the sun will shine soon, but it’s in these dark moments, that I’m left wondering “what if it doesn’t?”


A scripture that I’ve been feasting on for a few weeks now is Ezra 9:8. Ezra is ‘astonished’ that God’s people have quickly disregarded the instructions to marry within Israel.

(They married other people groups. But you have to remember in OT that this was because God had specific plans with a specific group of people to eventually bless the entire world. This verse and others like are often used to deter Christians from marrying either non-believers or ‘mixing’ of different ethnic groups. I think when reading OT as Christians, we must read it through the lens of the Resurrection of Jesus, in which God’s Kingdom on earth has been initiated and the commandment from Jesus is make disciples of the nations MT. 28:18-20. Today with the global mobilization offered, there is no doubt that humanity will marry cross ethnically, and personally, I don’t believe the whole of Scripture teaches against that. You are free to disagree. The highlight of this particular text here is that God’s people disobeyed specific instructions.)


While Ezra remains ‘astonished’ at Israel’s disobedience, he then recounts God’s faithfulness amidst his own shame. As Ezra recounts God’s faithfulness, he says something very interesting to me, “And now for a little while grace has been shown from the LORD our God, to leave us a remnant to escape, and to give us a peg in His holy place, that our God may enlighten our eyes and give us a measure of revival in our bondage.” (NKJV translation)


Once again, Israel (and Judah) were in bondage and were freed to return to a normal way of life. This is one of the only times I remember reading the word ‘grace’ and ‘revival’ in the Old Testament. What I want to focus on is the formula: grace, light, revival (even in bondage). Other translations, NIV and The Message paraphrase, allude towards ‘relief’ or ‘lighten our burdens’ rather than ‘revival.’ God has been with His people. God is with His people. God will be with His people.


As followers of Jesus, we proclaim the mystery of our faith when we celebrate the Lord’s Supper saying, “Christ has died. Christ is risen. Christ will come again.” It’s the past-present-future all converging in one moment.



Grace – Jesus has been with us, is with us now, and will be with us.

Light – The smallest ray of light gives us the greatest hope.

Revival – Our hope is in Jesus and the promise is new life that begins today.


I’ve been struggling with some things in my life, mostly the grief of not having a group of people to call my own, as when I was serving a local church as pastor. My entire identity is often tied up in what I do for a living. My self-confidence is often mixed in with my service to a group of people. My PhD research is enjoyable, but it is lonely. I know that God has called me to it, and for a purpose (that I would love for Him to reveal sooner rather than later LOL!) For now, I’m clinging to the promise of brighter days ahead with the grace God gives me now simply because if even the slightest ray of sunshine displays itself, I know there is hope yet.


If you’re struggling today to see ‘life’ as the days seems darker, shorter, and colder, I promise the sun will come out in a moment. When it does, it’s the promise that brighter days lie just ahead, even in the ‘now.’


Don’t give up, friend. There are better and brighter days, and maybe it’s today. Open the door. Venture to the world. Find out.


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