The Greek word transliterated “metanoia” means “a change of mind.” It suggests going in a different direction than before. This gets at the true meaning of the word “repentance.” Repentance means more than feeling for one’s actions. Rather, it is an action word. The act of repentance must be observed by an outward change in direction. John the Baptist proclaimed: Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. (Matthew 3:8)
Intercessory prayer is the opening of the door. It is the key that leads to true revival. We must walk through that door in order to complete the revival. God will do His part but He is counting on us to do ours.
What happened in the case of Ezra? He had found that the Israelites who were rebuilding the temple in Jerusalem had intermarried with pagans which was against God’s Law. In our last post we spoke of the pattern of Ezra’s intercessory prayer. His ministry did not stop with the prayer:
While Ezra was praying and confessing, weeping and throwing himself down before the house of God, a large crowd of Israelites—men, women and children—gathered around him. They too wept bitterly. Then Shekaniah son of Jehiel, one of the descendants of Elam, said to Ezra, “We have been unfaithful to our God by marrying foreign women from the peoples around us. But in spite of this, there is still hope for Israel. Now let us make a covenant before our God to send away all these women and their children, in accordance with the counsel of my lord and of those who fear the commands of our God. Let it be done according to the Law. Rise up; this matter is in your hands. We will support you, so take courage and do it.” (Ezra 10:1-4)
A great awakening is taking place now within the American people. This is the result of God’s revelations. He is exposing the lies and bringing the people back to their spiritual roots. Nevertheless, a great obstacle stands in the way of true revival. It is the leadership of this country- in the government, in education, and even in our churches. When Ezra examined the list of those Israelites who had intermarried he found that a large percentage of them were priests and levites. These were the leaders who were supposed to be looking out for the well-being of the nation.
Now the American people must respond to the revelations of God. It was not so long ago that we as a people said that it was more important for our leaders to be “competent” than moral. What will we do now? Under the leadership of Ezra the people of Israel repented. They changed their way of thinking. They put away their pagan wives and they returned to their heritage in God. Because they did the work of rebuilding the temple and the nation continued and eventually was completed. What will we do as a people of God?