Sabbatical 2017

Sabbatical 2017
Pont Aven, France

Friday, September 23, 2016

Chronological Reading Plan for Sep 24, Ezra 7-10

Today's readings are Ezra 7-10. Tomorrow's are Neh 1-5.

King Artaxerxes, who may have been the son of Esther's husband Ahaseurus (Xerxes), recognizes Ezra's qualifications and passion as a spiritual leader for the Jews and sends him back to Jerusalem with abundant blessings and authority to establish godly spirituality and a judicial/civil system according the the law of God (Ezra 7:25).

The king had been used by God (Ezra 7:27) to recreate a Divine theocracy in Judah. The king not only has decreed it, but he has funded it as well.

Ezra 8 establishes Ezra and his party as having the genealogical heritage to work in the Temple. The priesthood will continue in proper order. 

Ezra 9 tells us that the people have, once again, intermarried. Apparently, while they were in exile, many of the Jewish people acquired pagan spouses. Concerned that they are falling into familair sin, as their  fathers did, Ezra prays and confesses on behalf of the people. In this case, Ezra becomes the mediator/advocate of the people. But, Ezra is a prophet as well. He speaks the truth to the people, calling them to repent. 

Ezra 10 shows the people falling under conviction and deciding to "put away" their marriages to non-Jews. All the text reveals is that the spouses and families were excommunicated. The word for "put away" is not the same word for divorce, indicating extraordinary measures are being taken to correct a sin that should never have happened in the first place.

What we see in Ezra is the serious nature of maintaining purity and holiness. God clearly sent Ezra to Jerusalem to oversee the spiritual welfare of the Jews as they rebuilt the city and the Temple. When he arrived, it became clear that they were falling into the same wicked lifestyles that happened prior to the exile. God had specifically told them not to intermarry so as to avoid bringing pagan worship and idolatry into their homes and communities. They were doing it again!

We should be careful not to take the actions of Ezra as prescriptive to the current times. The Bible treats divorce as a gravely serious matter. Nothing was mentioned in the passages about responsibility, property and whether support was offered. We don't have all the details of what happened but we can assume tough decisions were made. Many lives were upended and hearts were broken.

The lesson Ezra teaches is not to marry outside the faith. It can have grave consequences. The deeper lesson here is that the union of dark (godless) and light (godly) should never be attempted. Those who are one with Christ should not unite with those who reject Him. 

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