“Behold, we are before you in our guilt …” (v15). Ezra the priest was horrified at the disobedience of Israel’s leaders who had only recently returned from exile. After being conquered by Babylonians and now dependent on the Persians, the Jews had miraculously been allowed to return to their own land, yet they defied God by intermarrying with pagan peoples (v14). The fact that God had punished them “much less” than their sins deserved (v13) unfortunately did not make them obedient.
“Favor has been shown by the Lord” (v8). God pours out grace so that, being forgiven, we will not return to our sins, but walk in “newness of life” (Rom 6:4).