Today’s reading: Ezra 8:1-10:44
My selection: Ezra 10:9-11
9 Then all the men of Judah and Benjamin assembled at Jerusalem within the three days. It was the ninth month, on the twentieth day of the month. And all the people sat in the open square before the house of God, trembling because of this matter and because of the heavy rain. 10 And Ezra the priest stood up and said to them, “You have broken faith and married foreign women, and so increased the guilt of Israel. 11 Now then make confession to the Lord, the God of your fathers and do his will. Separate yourselves from the peoples of the land and from the foreign wives.”
My reflections: As Ezra led the captive people of Judah and Israel back to Jerusalem and to the restoration of worship of the true God, he discovered that many of them, even the priests, had taken foreign wives. He gathered them together in the midst of a heavy downpour and exhorted them to repent and separate themselves from their foreign wives to avert the wrath of God.
This prohibition of marrying with foreigners did not include those who converted to faith in the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (e.g. Rahab and Ruth were included in the genealogy of Jesus Christ) but it did include pagan wives who would turn the hearts of their husbands away from the Lord. Solomon was a prime example of how this could happen (1 Kings 11). Nor were women of Israel free to marry pagan men.
The choice of a marriage partner largely determines the spiritual and theological direction of one’s life. This is why so much emphasis is made on “marrying in the Lord” and not being “unequally yoked with unbelievers”. [See 1 Co. 7; 2 Co. 6:14-7:1]. Certainly many Christians have married unbelievers and have learned the bitter truth that this is a foolish decision which follows them all their lives. It is not an unforgiveable sin, but it is a dangerous road to take which makes it difficult to grow and serve the Lord and to raise godly children. It sometimes results in the unbeliever coming to faith but this seems to be the exception rather than the rule. Often it results in the believing spouse either renouncing the faith or being restricted in his or her growth and service for Jesus Christ.
My challenge: If you have married an unbeliever, you must seek to win that one to the Lord. [I Peter 3:1-7] If he or she is willing to live with you, you must make the best of that marriage. [I Co. 7:12-16]. If you have not yet married, pray for the grace to remain single unless and until God leads you to a godly spouse.
If you are married to a Christian and you are growing in love and knowledge of the Lord together, then give thanks to God for that. Be sure to encourage your spouse to seek God and to serve Him all the days of your life together.
Tomorrow’s reading: Nehemiah 1:1-4:23