(44 verses, 5:59 to read)
What I am about to READ
- Ezra deals with the difficult case of men who have married foreign wives.
- vv. 1-5: Ezra makes intercession for the sins of the exiles, who have married foreign wives. Some encourage him to end the marriages immediately.
- vv. 6-8: The exiles are summoned to Jerusalem to resolve the issue. Those who do not return are threatened with the loss of their property.
- vv. 9-17: The exiles assemble, called to repentance, and commanded to bear fruit in keeping with repentance. Due to the poor weather conditions and the seriousness of the sin, however, a commission is assembled to deal with each family on a case by case basis. After three months, the investigation is ended and the illegal marriages were dissolved. Notice the care and time taken to deal with matters of church discipline!
- vv. 18-44: Those guilty of illegal marriages are listed by classification: priests, Levites, singers, gate keepers, and laymen.
- This chapter shows the dire consequences of sin within the congregation of the people of Israel. Families, some with children, were split apart as a result of this decree. However, we must note that the people of God were not to marry foreign wives, per God’s command. For instance, when the people of Israel were about to enter the Promised Land, God commanded them, “When the Lord your God brings you into the land that you are entering to take possession of it, and clears away many nations before you, the Hittites, the Girgashites, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, seven nations more numerous and mightier than you, and when the Lord your God gives them over to you, and you defeat them, then you must devote them to complete destruction. You shall make no covenant with them and show no mercy to them. You shall not intermarry with them, giving your daughters to their sons or taking their daughters for your sons, for they would turn away your sons from following me, to serve other gods. Then the anger of the Lord would be kindled against you, and he would destroy you quickly” (Deuteronomy 7:1-4). The Lord’s concern is that foreign wives would cause the people of Israel to fall into idolatry. King Solomon is such an example.
- Though Christians today are not to divorce unbelieving spouses, this warning should cause us to be very careful when choosing a spouse. Parents should be careful to instill in their children the importance of marrying a Christian spouse, warning that marrying an unbeliever is dangerous to their faith. How many of us know Christians who made non-Christians, or even Christians of a different confession of the faith? In my time as a pastor, I’ve seen so many families in this kind of situation. Frequently, these families do not worship together. Even worse, many stop coming to church altogether. Often, children are the real casualties, because they are presented with a muddled understanding of Christianity.
- The other point of concern for the Lord’s seemingly harsh command regarding these marriages is the promise of the Savior, Jesus Christ, who was to come from the line of Abraham. One of the reasons we so often see such an obsession with names listed in genealogies throughout the Scriptures is because God had promised to send His Son through a particular family line. The promise was first given to Adam and Eve, then to Abraham, then to Isaac, then to Jacob, then to Judah, then to David. God had called out this particular people, in order that He might restore all people to Himself through Jesus Christ.
- Prayer: O God, grant us to remain faithful to Your Word. When we stumble, grant us repentance and faith, that we might not die but would live forever in Your heavenly kingdom, through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
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-Rev. Jordan McKinley, pastor
Trinity Lutheran Church, Vallonia, IN
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