Ezra and Nehemiah are in Jerusalem together, and Ezra reads from the Torah for hours in the public square (seven days in a row). The people praise the lord and rediscover the Festival of Shelters (Sukkot), which they then observe. Apparently the Israelites had not celebrated like that since the days of Joshua son of Nun (v 17). Really? What about when Josiah read the entire Book of the Covenant that had been found in the Lord’s Temple, and brought back Passover? (2 Kings 23).
The people endure 6 hours of standing to pray, while being berated and told they are sinners. They fast and dress in burlap and sprinkle dust on their heads to emphasize how lowly they are (v 1-4). Someone explain how this is considered admirable? It’s nothing but a cult of abuse! Then they listen to a long prayer which includes the line “you are a God of forgiveness, gracious and merciful, slow to become angry, and rich in unfailing love.” (v 17) Wow – these people are poor historians with short memories. The prayer continues on with “For forty years you sustained them in the wilderness, and they lacked nothing. Their clothes did not wear out, and their feet did not swell!” (v 21) Seriously? And the prayer goes on, and on, and on. At the end the people promise to be good and obey Yahweh and observe all the laws… like we haven’t heard that before.