Well, we've been told our sins will find us out; they surely did here (Ezra 10:1-2). The sin was marriage of holy seed (Israelites) with the idol-worshiping Canaanite. Cleansing began (10:3-5). Transgressors were warned (10:7-8). Look how long it took (10:16-17). Note Ezra's infamous list after he finally cleaned house (10:18-44).
The Israelites had married Canaanites. Consequently, many were worshiping their idols. The Law of God, had warned: Neither shalt thou make marriages with them. . . . For they will turn away thy son from following Me . . . so will the anger of the LORD . . . destroy thee (Deut. 7:3-4). As the Israelites listened to Ezra proclaim the Word of God, they were convicted of their sins. Shechaniah, spokesman for the offenders, said to Ezra: We have trespassed against (been unfaithful to) our God, and have taken strange wives. . . . therefore let us make a covenant (agreement) with our God to put away all the (idol worshiping) wives (Ezra 10:2-3).
One by one, each man who had married a Canaanite had to present himself with his wife and children before a court of the elders of every city, and the judges thereof (10:14) to determine if they were involved in idol worship or were worshipers of the true God of Israel. If the only consideration had been the excommunication of all Canaanite wives, it would have been a simple, immediate decision. But, something more than simple separation was being considered in their courts. There was an examination of each family to determine if the Canaanite wives had forsaken their idols and converted to the One True God of Israel. If these men had led their wives to reject their idols and worship the One True God, their wives would have become Israelites and would not have been called strange wives. This precedent had been set by Joshua when he welcomed and protected Rahab, the harlot of Jericho, who had rejected her idols and sinful life to place her trust in the One True God of Israel. Much later, Ruth, a Moabitess, joined with Naomi, confessing: Thy God will be my God (Ruth 1:16). Ruth rejected her people's idols and became an Israelite. In the providence of God, both she and Rahab became a part of the genealogy of Jesus.
We are prone to underestimate the heartbreak and suffering that results from disobedience to the Word of God. The price of sin is much greater than anyone suspects! He that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption (is doomed to destruction); but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting (Gal. 6:8).
Thought for Today:
Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? (II Cor. 6:14).
Through the ram (male sheep) offered for the offenses of the sons of the priests (Ezra 10:19). Christ offered Himself up for the sins and offenses of all mankind. He is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him, seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them (Heb. 7:25).
10:1 wept very sore =wept bitterly; 10:2 strange =foreign; 10:8 substance =property; 10:13 without =outside in the rain; 10:15 were employed about =were opposed to; 10:19 gave their hands =promised, vowed.
Pray for Country: Mali (10 million) in West Africa • Major languages: French and Bambara • Religious freedom despite Muslim majority • 81% Muslim; 17% animism and spirit worship; 2% Christian • Prayer Suggestion: Husbands, give honor to your wives, or else your prayers will be obstructed (I Pet. 3:7).
Optional Reading: 2 Corinthians 7
Memory Verse for the Week: Matthew 6:31