Read Ezra 10
The Israelites were worshiping 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 proclaim the Word of God, they were convicted of their sins. This points out that faith comes by hearing the Word of God (Romans 10:17). Shechaniah, spokesman for the offenders, showing evidence of true repentance, said to 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 (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 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, who 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: 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 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; 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 Himself for the sins and offenses of all mankind (Heb. 7:27; I Peter 2:5,9; I John 3:1-2).
Word Studies: 10:1 very sore means bitterly; 10:2 strange means foreign; 10:8 substance means property; 10:13 without means outside; 10:15 were employed about means opposed to; 10:19 gave their hands means promised, vowed.
BPM Staff: Barbara Ann Bivens · Pray for Bible Pathway Distributors · Pray for the Bible Pathway International Radio broadcast sponsored by One of the Lord's Stewards · Country: Lebanon (4 million) in the Middle East · Major languages: Arabic and French · Limited religious freedom · 67% Muslim; 19% Roman Catholic; 10% Eastern Orthodox; 1% Protestant · Prayer Suggestion: Express your gratitude for the loving-kindness of God (Jeremiah 32:17-18).
Optional Reading: II Corinthians 7
Memory Verse for the Week: II Timothy 2:15