Ezra 9 Ė 10 part 6
Ezra and those with him have arrived at
Ezra 9:1 When
these things were done, the leaders came to me, saying, "The people of
When we finished up chapter 8, we learned that Ezra had to send word to all the Kings people in their region. This would have taken some time. Approximately 3- 4 months passed before this news came to Ezra about the intermarriage problem with the Jews. This was a forbidden practice by God because God knew that when they started marrying others outside their nation that it would increase the possibility of them turning to idol worship by the influence of their mates. Also, if the continued to intermarry with foreigners, their identity would eventually disappear.
Notice what Moses said about this,
"When the LORD your God brings you into the land which you go to possess,
and has cast out many nations before you, the Hittites and the Girgashites and
the Amorites and the Canaanites and the Perizzites and the Hivites and the
Jebusites, seven nations greater and mightier than you,† 2 "and when the LORD your God
delivers them over to you, you shall conquer them and utterly destroy
them. You shall make no covenant with them nor show mercy to them.† 3 "Nor shall you make
marriages with them. You shall not give your daughter to their son, nor take
their daughter for your son.† 4
"For they will turn your sons away from following Me, to serve other gods;
so the anger of the LORD will be aroused against you and destroy you suddenly.
This Law had not changed and it was easy to understand, but many of the Jews ignored this Law as some of their forefathers had. Solomon is good example of what could happen when you marry other women from other nations. They ended up corrupting him and he built alters for their Godís and allowed them to continue their false worship even though he knew that God almighty was the only one that should be worshipped.†
This sin made Ezra stomach turn even more since the spiritual leaders consisting of the Levites and the priest were some of the main ones that had taken foreign wives. If anyone should have known that this was against Godís Law it would have been them, but they ignored it as well.†
Ezra 9:3 So when
I heard this thing, I tore my garment and my robe, and plucked out some of the
hair of my head and beard, and sat down astonished.† 4 Then everyone who trembled at
the words of the God of
When Ezra heard this news,
it devastated him and as the custom was, he tore his inner and outer garment.
Ezra also pulled out part of his hair from his head and his beard and he is the
only one recorded in the Bible of doing this. The closest example of this is
what Job did when his children died. He tore his cloths and shaved his head
(Job 1:20). This just shows how distressed Ezra was about this situation. For
hours he just sat there astonished and he was probably contemplating what God
was going to do them and how they might rectify the situation.
While he was there
grieving over this news, those who feared Godís wrath for disobeying his
commands gathered around Ezra. These Jews knew that God would not tolerate
disobedience and had already punished them once by making them captives for 70
years, so this is why they were trembling.
Ezra 9:5 At the
evening sacrifice I arose from my fasting; and having torn my garment and my
robe, I fell on my knees and spread out my hands to the LORD my God.
When it was time for the
evening sacrifice, He got up from the ground and prepared himself to pray to
God. He fell down on his knees and spread out his hands to God. The rest of
chapter is Ezraís prayer to God. Instead, of reading the whole prayer through
at once, we are going to examine a few verses at a time.
Ezra 9:6 And I
said: "O my God, I am too ashamed and humiliated to lift up my face to
You, my God; for our iniquities have risen higher than our heads, and
our guilt has grown up to the heavens.† 7
"Since the days of our fathers to this day we have been very
guilty, and for our iniquities we, our kings, and our priests have been
delivered into the hand of the kings of the lands, to the sword, to captivity,
to plunder, and to humiliation, as it is this day.
Ezraís approach to God is prayer was like the tax
collector that Jesus talked about in Luke 18:13 who stood off at a distance and
wouldnít even raise his eyes to heaven, beat his chest and said 'God, be
merciful to me, a sinner!' Ezra did not take the sin of his people lightly because
he knew that they were drowning in their sins.
Even though Ezra was not guilty of this sin, he
includes himself as being part of this sin because he knows that his fate is
tied to the outcome of the fellow Jews. He knew the history of his people well
and he didnít try to pretend that they had been better than they were because
he admits that they had been guilty of sin on many occasions and that is why
they had been defeated many times throughout their history.
Ezra 9:8 "And now for a little while
grace has been shown from the LORD our God, to leave us a remnant to
escape, and to give us a peg in His holy place, that our God may enlighten our
eyes and give us a measure of revival in our bondage.† 9 "For we were slaves.
Yet our God did not forsake us in our bondage; but He extended mercy to us in
the sight of the kings of Persia, to revive us, to repair the house of our God,
to rebuild its ruins, and to give us a wall in Judah and Jerusalem.
Some like to say there was no grace in the Old
Testament, but there was and Ezra knew that Godís grace had allowed the Jews to
return from their captivity. Throughout the history of the Jews there have been
many times that God could of have completely destroyed them because of the
sinful ways, but because of his grace and mercy, he allowed them to continue
When he kept His promise and allowed these Jews to
Ezra 9:10 "And now, O our God, what
shall we say after this? For we have forsaken Your commandments,† 11 "which You commanded by
Your servants the prophets, saying, 'The land which you are entering to possess
is an unclean land, with the uncleanness of the peoples of the lands, with
their abominations which have filled it from one end to another with their
impurity.† 12 'Now therefore,
do not give your daughters as wives for their sons, nor take their daughters to
your sons; and never seek their peace or prosperity, that you may be strong and
eat the good of the land, and leave it as an inheritance to your
children forever.' †
Ezra couldnít offer any excuses for the behavior of his people, all he could say was that they had forsaken Godís commands. Even though these Jews knew that God had forbidden them to marry these foreigners they did it anyway.
"And after all that has come upon us for our evil deeds and for our great
guilt, since You our God have punished us less than our iniquities deserve, and
have given us such deliverance as this,†
14 "should we again break Your commandments, and join in
marriage with the people committing these abominations? Would You not be
angry with us until You had consumed us, so that there would be no
remnant or survivor?† 15
"O LORD God of
Ezra reflects upon the evil deeds that his forefathers had committed and how they had been punished for the sins. Notice, Ezra doesnít complain that their punishment was too harsh or not deserved. Instead, he says that they didnít get punished near as much as they deserved and he is thankful that God had mercy on them and allowed them to be where they are right now, but he is concerned because he knows that his people have married these foreigners who still worship their false Gods.
Ezra knew the only way for them to stand before the righteous God was by appealing to Him in prayer and seeking His forgiveness. Until these Jews repented and took care of this sin, they would not be able to stand before God.
Ezra 10:1 Now
while Ezra was praying, and while he was confessing, weeping, and bowing down
before the house of God, a very large assembly of men, women, and children
gathered to him from
Ezra was not alone in his
concern for the Jewish nation because as he prayed and wept before God many
men, women and children gathered around him and wept as well. When we see a
brother or sister in Christ who is living in sin it should cause us to weep
bitterly as well. When we hear about our sister congregations moving away from
God and worshipping God according to man-made traditions, again it should make
us sad and want to pray for those people. There is only remedy to correct our
sin and that is to repent.
this. This is why he knew that there was still hope for them. He knew that if
they would repent by removing their foreign wives and children, God would
forgive them. Now this would not be an easy thing for them to do because these
Jews would have loved these foreign wives and their children. This would be one
the hardest things they would ever have to give up in their life. The emotional
stress this would have caused would have been almost unbearable, but they would
have to overcome their emotions and end their unlawful relationship with their
wives if they were going to follow Godís Law.
Looking at this with
human eyes, many would think this was cruel and unusually, but God knows what
is best and even we donít fully understand the reasoning behind it, we have to
trust in Godís judgment. While this specific Law does not apply to us today,
the New Testament does teach the principle that a Christian should marry
The reason this is
important is because a married couple should be helping each other get to
heaven, but if you marry a non-Christian, many times they will hinder and not
help because they donít have the same goal as you.
We also have a Law under
the NT that can put a person in the same circumstance as these Jews during
Ezraís time and it comes from what Jesus taught about marriage, divorce and
remarriage. Jesus said,
"And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality,
and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced
Jesus has taught us
plainly that if anyone divorces their mate for some other reason than
fornication, then they are not allowed to remarry and they must remain single
for the rest of their life. If they do remarry, Jesus says they will be living
in adultery. This law applies to Christians and non-Christian. So, if a
non-Christian decides to become a Christian and they are in their 2nd
or 3rd marriage that is unlawful, they must resolve that marriage as
part of their repentance.
Again, this is not an
easy thing to do because a person must be willing to put Godís will first and
themselves second. Just like the people of Ezraís day, if we are going to abide
by Godís Law, we cannot be living in an adulterous relationship and be pleasing
So, they encouraged Ezra
to take charge of the matter and make it happen and Ezra didnít waste anytime
and he got the leaders of the Jews to take an oath that would abide by the Law
of God and send their foreign wives away.
Ezra 10:6 Then
Ezra rose up from before the house of God, and went into the chamber of
Jehohanan (jee-hoe-hay-nuhn) the son of Eliashib (e-lie-uh-shib); and when he came there, he ate no
bread and drank no water, for he mourned because of the guilt of those from the
captivity.† 7 And they issued
a proclamation throughout Judah and Jerusalem to all the descendants of the
captivity, that they must gather at Jerusalem,†
8 and that whoever would not come within three days,
according to the instructions of the leaders and elders, all his property would
be confiscated, and he himself would be separated from the assembly of those
from the captivity.
Ezraís fast of food and
water shows his continuing sincerity of his guilt for his nation. The leader
wanted this matter taken care quickly, so the sent word out to all the Jews in
that area they must come to
This is the same attitude
that elders in every congregation should have. They should not tolerate those
who are willing to live in sin and the sin should be dealt with, so the sin
doesnít spread. Not only should the eldership want to stand up for what is
right the entire congregation should be behind and encourage an eldership that
keeps on top of those living in sin.
Ezra 10:9 So all
the men of Judah and Benjamin gathered at
The Jews gathered
together in the 9th month and it was raining on them. This made them cold and
it added to their trembling they were already suffering from this matter. When
Ezra spoke to them he didnít act like a politician and talk all around the
issue, he got right to the point and told them they had sinned against God by
marrying these foreign women and they needed to confess before God that they
had sinned and then they must follow Godís Law and separate themselves from
these foreign wives. Notice confessing their sin was not enough they had to
repent as well before they could be forgiven.
They agreed to do this,
but they didnít want to do it all at once that day because of the great crowd
and the rain. So, they proposed that each city come at appointed times to take
care of this matter.
Verse 15 could be taken
two different ways. It could be saying that these 4 men opposed the idea of
having to separate from the foreign women or it could be saying that they
opposed the delay of taking care of this sin. Whatever it is they opposed, it
didnít change anything.
Ezra 10:16 Then
the descendants of the captivity did so. And Ezra the priest, with certain
heads of the fathers' households, were set apart by the fathers' households,
each of them by name; and they sat down on the first day of the tenth month
to examine the matter.† 17 By
the first day of the first month they finished questioning all the men
who had taken pagan wives.
Within one week after
this proclamation the Jews started this procedure and it took them 3 months in
all to investigate the various marriages and all those who had married foreign
women, with no exceptions sent their wives away along with their children.
Verses 18 Ė 44 list all the names of those who had foreign women and had put
them away. The number of them was 112. This was a small number considering
there were about 20,000 Jewish men at that time. However, if Godís Law had not
been preached and upheld that number would have grown immensely in no time.
That is why it was so important that this sin be taken care as soon as
This same thing is true in the church today. The more we allow a sin to continue unchecked the more its going to have a chance to grow and spread like cancer. We must learn to bold like Ezra and stand upon Godís truth even if it means that we must make a great sacrifice in our human relationships. Jesus said,
"He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he
who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.† 38 "And he who does not take
his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me.
For now, these Jews had
made their sacrifice and they were putting God first in their life. Ezraís
commitment to the Law of Moses caused these Jews to be built up spiritually,
which was far greater than any physically thing they could every build.
These two chapters have
taught us a great lesson in what it means to be committed to serving God. We
learned that there are no excuses we can give for our sin, but if we repent and
turn away from that sin God will forgive us. Even though we donít deserve it
God extends His grace to all of us. We learned that God wants us to keep all
His Law and not just part of it because there are no compromises in Godís Word.
We learned that when sin rears it ugly head it must be dealt with promptly or
it will spread. Overall it teaches us that if we want to be able to stand
before our righteous God we must do our best to respect His authority by
obeying His commands.