King Artaxerxes authorizes Ezra to return to Jerusalem with more exiles. It is a four month journey back to their homeland (Ezra 7:8-9). Upon arrival they present several things to the LORD, gold and silver to the Temple, sacrifices, and an attitude of cooperation.
But there is sin in the camp. Ezra the priest hears that many Jews are imitating the local pagans and have intermarried with them. Ezra confessess this sin to the Lord and many become sorrowful. The people promise to separate from the pagans in the land, and the men will divorce their wives. What a mess they have created.
Why is it so tempting to become like the world around us? For Christians, we are to be in the world, but not of it. We are citizens of heaven, and are pilgrims in this land. Our call is to be Ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us. Therefore we are to reconcile ourselves to God and not the world.