Ezra 9: Intermarriage and Intercession

(15 verses, 1:39 to read)

READ & LISTEN

What I am about to  READ

  • This whole reading revolves around the sin of God’s Old Testament people in marrying those whom they were commanded not to marry

MARK

  • 1-5: The reading begins by highlighting the truth that not even the priests were immune from this.  Ezra is ashamed and mourns, but he is not the only one.  There is also a small group of those who fear the Lord’s Word that join him.  Ezra weeps, fasts, and intercedes.
  • 6-9: Note the beauty of this intercession.  It begins with “I.”  Ezra, in his prayer, dives in to be with those who have shame and guilt.  He associates with the sinner and prays for all.  Ezra especially prays for enlightenment (vs. 8).   Despite the guilt and shame, despite the captivity (even though this entire book emphasizes some of the kindness of their captors to allow Israel to worship the Lord and receive His gifts), Ezra’s prayer also declares this beautiful truth, “Yet our God has not forsaken us in our slavery” (vs. 10)
  • 10-15: The Lord, Ezra preaches, doesn’t forsake His people, yet His people forsake His commandments.  Remember that the commandments against intermarriage from certain cultures are at front and center in this reading.

LEARN

  • The Lord forbids intermarriage for His Old Testament saints because of the connection between marriage, family, morality, and religion.  Today, the Christian is still called to consider and obey God’s Word to not be “unequally yoked.”  Scripture confesses the one flesh union of marriage – everything about the man and woman come into constant contact with each other.  This is especially true of morality and confession of the One, True God.
  • Why the temptation for intermarriage back then?  Vs. 12 gives a helpful insight: “12 Therefore do not give your daughters to their sons, neither take their daughters for your sons, and never seek their peace or prosperity, that you may be strong and eat the good of the land and leave it for an inheritance to your children forever.’”  Summarize that in one word and you get this: mammon (money, economic advantages, false assurance of tomorrow’s bread, etc. if you want more words)
  • Why the temptation now?  Primarily because romantic attraction is the number one thing that is considered for marriage, probably.
  • Money and romance are important things, but they are not the only things, nor even the primary thing.  Your one-flesh union ought be a union that is mutually up-building to believe God’s promises and live Godly lives and in regular circumstances produces children that husband and wife raise in the fear and encouragement of the Lord.
  • Finally, this meditation has to include the comfort and admonition for those who are currently in a marriage with one who is not a Christian.  One verse can’t do it justice, (and in fact, our Lord has devoted several Words regarding this!), but here’s one verse I offer: For how do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife?” (1 Cor. 7….read the whole chapter here: http://www.esvbible.org/1%20Corinthians%207/)

MEDITATE

  • Lord Jesus, the true High Priest who lived an undefiled life for the whole world.  As I look around my family, my church, and my community, I see much shame and guilt surrounding sex, money, and marriage.  As your brother or sister through my baptism into you shame-covering death, I intercede for us all.  Gather us to yourself, cleanse us, renew us, free us all from this slavery to sin and self, and enlighten our eyes to delight in Your gift of marriage.  O, gracious and wonderful Bridegroom of the Church, I ask it all, appealing only to the blamelessness and holiness I have through You.  Amen.

 

Thoughts? Comments? Questions? Post below, or join the conversation in our Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/dailybiblemeditation/ or if reading on facebook, check out the blog: https://rightlydividedbible.wordpress.com/
Christopher Stout, Pastor of Mount Calvary Lutheran Church, Kannapolis, NC & Abundant Life Lutheran Church, Charlotte, NC
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2 thoughts on “Ezra 9: Intermarriage and Intercession

  1. Thank you Pastor Stout for this lesson and meditation. Keeping in mind Ezra 9 and your reference to 1 Cor 7, how does the LCMS church deal with families of intermarriage? For example, could a husband or wife join the church alone without their unbelieving spouse and/or children? Thanks again.

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