Ezra, The Racist? NO WAY!


Are you tired of being called a “racist” when you aren’t one? I know I am. I’ll bet you are too. That means that we have something in common with the Aaronic priest, Ezra.

He prepared his whole life to know the Law of Moses and to be able to teach it to the people. He studied the Law and studied the Law and studied the Law and developed the needed skills for serving as God’s priest. Then one day he stirred up the courage to ask the Persian King, Artaxerxes, for permission to leave his home in Babylon and return to God’s holy city, Jerusalem, so that he could serve God as a descendant of Aaron. WOW, what a day. He not only received permission to go, but the King gave him everything he needed for the journey.

After 4.5 months of preparation and journey, Ezra and the large number of Israelites, including many fellow Levites, eagerly arrived in Jerusalem. They offered sacrifice to God and began their priestly duties. The “hand of the LORD” was on Ezra and the King was supporting him, so what could possibly go wrong?

That is when: Ezra 9:1-3 After these things had been done, the leaders came to me and said, “The people of Israel, including the priests and the Levites, have not kept themselves separate from the neighboring peoples with their detestable practices, like those of the Canaanites, Hittites, Perizzites, Jebusites, Ammonites, Moabites, Egyptians and Amorites. They have taken some of their daughters as wives for themselves and their sons, and have mingled the holy race with the peoples around them. And the leaders and officials have led the way in this unfaithfulness.”

This surely was not something covered in the Priest’s Work & Problems class in school. What was a priest to do? First, he: When I heard this, I tore my tunic and cloak, pulled hair from my head and beard and sat down appalled. Then everyone who trembled at the words of the God of Israel gathered around me because of this unfaithfulness of the exiles. And I sat there appalled until the evening sacrifice. Ezra 9:4 And then he prayed one of the greatest prayers of confession and repentance in the entire Bible. Ezra 9:5-15

Ezra prayed for God’s help and Jehovah sent Shekaniah with a heavenly message: “We have been unfaithful to our God by marrying foreign women from the peoples around us. But in spite of this, there is still hope for Israel. Now let us make a covenant before our God to send away all these women and their children, in accordance with the counsel of my lord and of those who fear the commands of our God. Let it be done according to the Law. Rise up; this matter is in your hands. We will support you, so take courage and do it.”

A proclamation was issued throughout the land for everyone to assemble in Jerusalem. Failure to show would require forfeiture of all property. Then Ezra delivered the hard words:

“You have been unfaithful; you have married foreign women, adding to Israel’s guilt. Now honor the LORD, the God of your ancestors, and do his will. Separate yourselves from the peoples around you and from your foreign wives.” And they all did.

Can you imagine the outcry if something like this happened today? RACIST! RACIST! Ezra wasn’t a racist, he was a priest of God, trying to obey God. Why would God require His people to never intermarry? Is God a racist? NO! God knew that intermarrying with the pagans would lead Israel into idolatry. For God it was a faith matter, not a skin color or ethnic issue. However, in our modern “woke” world, Ezra would have been called a racist and bigot on every website and media source available. Was he a racist? NO! He was a faithful priest, trying to obey a God who was trying to protect His people. So remember, just because some is called a racist, doesn’t mean they are one. God bless.

Mike Sublett is a pastor at Hi-Land Christian Church, 1615 N. Banks St., Pampa, Texas 79065. Email him at pawdad@nts-online.net.