Sabbatical 2017

Sabbatical 2017
Arc de Triumph

Monday, May 22, 2017

Canonical Reading Plan for May 23, Ezr 8-10

Today's readings are Ezr 8-10.

Ezr 8:1-20 establishes Ezra and his party as having the genealogical heritage to work in the temple. These historical records ensure the priesthood will continue in proper order. 
We get a glimpse of Ezra’s faith and prayer life in Ezr 8:21-23.  He decides to place his complete trust and confidence in God for his protection and that of his men (Ezr 8:21-23).

Ezr 9:1-2 reveals 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 familiar sin, as their fathers did, Ezra prays and confesses on behalf of the people (Ezr 9:3-15). 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. 

Ezr 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 the Book of Ezra is the serious nature of maintaining purity and holiness. God 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 apparent that they were falling into the same wicked lifestyles that happened before 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. However, 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. We can also assume that many lives were upended and hearts were broken.

While all the measures enacted in Ezra may not be prescriptive, the lesson the Book of Ezra teaches is. Believers are 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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