June 05

Read Ezra 10

In Today's Reading:

Foreign wives and children.

Verses for Today:

Shechaniah . . said unto Ezra, We have trespassed against our God, and have taken strange (heathen) wives of the people of the land. . . . Let us make a covenant with our God to put away all the wives (meaning heathen worshipers) . . . and let it be done according to the Law (10:2-3).

The Israelites had become worshipers of pagan Canaanite idols. Consequently, the spiritual purpose for the Israelites' return to Jerusalem was now in danger of being lost.

The Law of God, given to Moses, had warned: Neither [shall you] make marriages with them. . . . they will turn away [your] son from following Me, that they may serve other gods: so will the anger of the Lord be kindled against you, and destroy [you] suddenly (Deuteronomy 7:3-4).

Intermarriage with idol-worshiping unbelievers had been forbidden, and the fierce wrath of our God seemed imminent (Ezra 10:14).

Ezra's great anguish of soul over the certainty of the judgment of God upon the Jews was evident as he prayed . . . confessed, weeping and casting himself down before the House of God (10:1).

As the Israelites listened to Ezra reading and teaching the Word of God, they were convicted of their sins, which illustrates that faith [comes] by hearing . . . the Word of God (Romans 10:17). Shechaniah, spokesman for the offenders, expressed true repentance, and, one by one, the men who had married Canaanite women presented themselves with their wives and children before the elders of every city, and the judges thereof (Ezra 10:14). They would determine if they were involved in idol worship or were worshipers of the true God of Israel.

If the only consideration was the excommunication of all Canaanite wives, it would have been a simple, immediate decision. But, since it extended over a period of time, involving the elders of every city, and the judges, 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 a heart belief in 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 Only True God, the God of Israel. Much later, Ruth, a Moabitess, joined with Naomi, confessing: [Your] God. . . shall be my God (Ruth 1:16). Ruth rejected her people's idols and not only became an Israelite, but, in the providence of God, she became a part of the genealogy of Jesus.

We are prone to underestimate the heartbreak and suffering that result 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; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting (Galatians 6:8).

Christ Revealed:

Through the ram (male sheep) offered for the offenses of the sons of the priests (Ezra 10:19). Christ offered up Himself for the sins and offenses of all mankind (Hebrews 7:27; 1 Peter 2:5; 1 John 3:1-2).

Word Studies:

10:1 very sore = bitterly; 10:2 strange = foreign; 10:8 substance = property; 10:13 without = outside; 10:15 were employed about = opposed to; 10:19 gave their hands = promised, vowed.

Prayer Needs:

Pray for your Pastor · Country: Guyana (705,000) on the northeastern coast of South America · Major languages: English and Amerindian dialects · The government is becoming increasingly Marxist, radical, and atheistic · 36% Hindu; 28% Protestant; 10% Roman Catholic; 9% Muslim · Prayer Suggestion: Praise God for godly men of old who were faithful to record His Word of Truth (Habakkuk 2:1-2).

Optional Reading: 2 Corinthians 7

Memory Verse for the Week: 2 Timothy 2:15