The Need for Brokenness
- How many of you have ever broken a bone? Has anyone ever had to do physical therapy to recover? These moments in our lives were usually not pleasant times. They usually aren’t moments that we would want to relive. Why? Because they were painful! Has anyone ever had a broken heart? A time of emotional distress where you really hurt? Some people would say that the broken heart was more painful than the broken bone. Most people, people in their right state of mind don’t like pain.
- Have you ever been spiritually broken? What I am referring to is when a person who is a born-again Christian (individuals who have received forgiveness of sins through putting their trust in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ), who has been strongly convicted of sin in his life and convicted of spiritual stagnancy. So convicted in fact that the person mourns his present spiritual condition, he is humbled, and knows he needs to make a change. This is brokenness. I am going to suggest to you this morning that every true believer, every true Christ-follower needs to be broken spiritually, and usually more than once, in fact repeatedly throughout his life. This describes for us, the need for brokenness.
- In the O.T. there is an incredible story of spiritual revival that took place. Just as a reminder as we begin, a short definition of what spiritual revival is, “Revival is what happens when God’s people, whether individually or corporately, are restored to a right relationship with God.”
(READ EZRA 9:1-7, 10-15) What we find in this real life account is that this spiritual revival began with spiritual brokenness. It was brokenness over sin in the lives of God’s people. The brokenness over sin began with one man, Ezra (who was a priest – a servant of God).
(READ Ezra 10:1) Ezra began praying and confessing guilt, weeping before God. While he was doing this a monstrous amount of people showed up and the people were weeping!
- (READ Ezra 10:2-4) One of the men speaks up and says that the Jewish nation has been “unfaithful to God and married foreign women” (from the non-Israelites). But even though this wrong has been done, it appears that there is still hope for Israel. The man proposes that the nation of Israel make an agreement with God in which the men will divorce their foreign wives and children, according to what Ezra and the godly people have said. They now want to obey God’s commands. The man tells Ezra, “be courageous and act.”
* So the people know that they have really blown it spiritually. They are definitely repentant. The word repent means, “to feel or express sincere regret or remorse.” They need to make things right, so they call upon Ezra to be their leader to guide them in the way that they should act. Whatever Ezra tells them to do, they will do it.
* This willingness to change, this willingness to be led is a demonstration of humility. True humility is the result of spiritual brokenness.
* John Wesley once said, “Give me 100 men who hate nothing but sin, and desire nothing but God, and I will shake this world.”
- (READ Ezra 10:5-6) Ezra gets up and makes the leading priests (religious leaders), the Levites (religious leaders) and all Israel (the people of God), make an agreement with God to divorce their wives and children, so this large group of people agrees. After this agreement Ezra went into a Temple chamber. He didn’t eat or drink, because Ezra was mourning over the sin of people of God (the returnees from exile).
* This was brokenness over sin. The result was mourning over sin.
- (READ Ezra 10:7-8) There was an announcement made so that all Israelites would come to Jerusalem. Whoever wouldn’t come within 3 days, all his things would no longer be his and he would be an outcast among the people of God (the returnees from exile).
* Brokenness began when one man Ezra became aware of sin in the lives of God’s people. He was mourning over these wrong actions, this sin. This resulted in brokenness of a large group of God’s people (men, women, and children). When these people were broken, they realized they needed to change, so they did. Not only that they called the rest of God’s people to brokenness and change, but if they refused, then they would become outcasts among God’s people. That is how serious this group of God’s people were about brokenness and change.
- (READ Ezra 10:9) This call to brokenness and change got the attention of the men and they showed up at Jerusalem within 3 days. All the people sat in front of the Temple, and they were trembling because of the reason they were there, and because of the heavy rain.
- (READ Ezra 10:10-11) Ezra stood up and spoke to the people. He told them that they had been unfaithful to God and married foreign wives, which added more guilt to God’s people. As a result, Ezra calls them to brokenness and change. “Confess your sin to God and do His will.” Also, stop living like the non-believers (peoples of the land), and divorce your foreign wives and foreign children.
* Ezra who has already been broken over the sin of God’s people, now calls God’s people to brokenness over their sin and to change. Ezra says that it is not enough to just be broken or sorry, the people must choose to change.
* Evangelism, fine as it is, is not revival. After a very successful evangelistic gathering, Billy Graham was asked, “Is this revival?” Graham replied, “No. When revival comes, I expect to see 2 things which we have not seen yet. First, a new sense of the holiness of God on the part of Christians, and second, a new sense of the sinfulness of sin on the part of Christians.”
- (READ Ezra 10:12-15) After Ezra calls for brokenness and change, this huge group of men says, “Ezra, you are right! We are wrong.” All that Ezra said, it is the duty of all God’s people to do. The people point out that for them to do what Ezra said can’t be done immediately because there are so many people, and the weather is not conducive to do this immediately. The task also can’t be completed in one or two days because God’s people have transgressed so greatly in this matter (they have sinned so greatly, in severity and number). So they propose to make appointments with godly leaders to do as Ezra told them to do, until God’s anger over their sin is turned away (because they were broken and changed, God would forgive). Four men said they would not do this, they would not be broken and change.
* The majority of people said they would change. The majority was convicted of their sin and were broken spiritually. They know they have sinned greatly. They will confess their sin to God and change.
* A couple of newspaper reporters went down from London to report firsthand the incredible events that were taking place during the great Welsh revival during at the beginning of the 1900’s. Upon arriving in Wales one of the reporters asked a policeman where the Welsh revial was. The policeman stood up straight, laid his hand over his heart and declared, “Gentlemen, the Welsh revival is inside this uniform!”
* I do want you to notice something about this event as Ezra calls the people of God to spiritual brokenness and change. Not every person among God’s people was broken spiritually and changed. Some refused.
- There are some things that we see in this passage that are of great importance for us to notice.
1) God’s people were confronted with the truth
2) God’s people became broken spiritually
3) God’s people confessed their sin to God
4) God’s people changed by making deliberate decisions to not continue in sin and to begin to obey God’s commands
5) God forgave those who were broken and changed. He restored them to a close relationship with Himself.
- How are you living? Are you disobeying God’s commands? Are you living in continual, unrepentant sin?
- If you are living in disobedience to God’s commands and you feel convicted of that this morning, look to the process outlined above. Be broken, confess your sin to God, stop your sin, and obey God’s commands.