***We will be continuing on with the OT in the book of Nehemiah tomorrow***
Vs. 10, “Then Ezra the priest stood up and said to them, “You have been unfaithful; you have married foreign women, adding to Israel’s guilt.” Ezra’s sorrow would be a positive influence as the people began to understand the ramification of their sins. It is never easy to deal with sin. But a broken and contrite heart would help the process of repentance. Though not everyone would agree with Ezra, those who did would also confess publicly. It was not as easy as we think it would have been to correct this matter. But, they knew they needed to heed God’s law and they took the time to be wise in dealing with the sin.
Regarding application…Marriage. Vs. 3, “Now let us make a covenant before our God to send away all these women and their children, in accordance with the counsel of my lord and of those who fear the commands of our God. Let it be done according to the Law.” Marriage is a picture of Jesus and the church. Divorce is a serious matter and while it did happen in the Bible, we must also understand that it is not part of God’s will. This situation does not allow us to use this as a basis to think we have a way out of a bad marriage (I Cor. 7:12-16). We have the responsibliity to not enter a marriage with an unbeliver. Marriage is a wonderful gift from God and most of us are not called to be celibate. Be wise in your relationships and when you marry that special person, know that it isn’t always going to be the perfect marriage. But marriages strive to partner together to be one in spirit and mind for the glory of God. Praise God for marriage. If you are not married yet (most of you aren’t), take the time to be praying for that future spouse!
Vs. 2, “They have taken some of their daughters as wives for themselves and their sons, and have mingled the holy race with the peoples around them. And the leaders and officials have led the way in this unfaithfulness.” This was a discouraging time for God’s people as they broke the law (Ex. 34:16). We are exhorted not to be unequally yoked and that is what was happening by God’s people marrying unbelievers (II Cor. 6:14). This was something that people of all classes including the Levites, priests and leaders of Israel. The heart of the matter lied in the fact that they were turning away from God and being influenced by their pagan marriages to turn to idolatry. This was a shocking turn of events for Ezra and he was certainly ashamed by this. The Lord had done so much for them and this is how they were responding. Yet, we see a wonderful prayer lifted up to God.
Regarding application…Do we deserve it? Vs. 13, “What has happened to us is a result of our evil deeds and our great guilt, and yet, our God, you have punished us less than our sins have deserved and have given us a remnant like this.” Often times in our lives there is a sense of “entitlement”…as if we deserve to have good things come our way. We sacrificed all these years of schooling, so we deserve a good career. We sacrificed all these years of serving God, so we deserve to be blessed. We gave so much time to others, so we deserve to receive. Yet, we are poignantly reminded that we are sinners and deserve nothing. But God’s grace has given us acceptance and love. God is the giver of good things and it’s truly a blessing any time God chooses to bless us. But may we never take for granted the things He has given to us. None of us are deserving…thankfully, it’s nothing we can do that makes us any better. We just need to be humble and strive to live daily for our Lord.