Relationships With The World

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I just completed teaching a Bible class on the books of Ezra and Nehemiah, two often ignored books of the Bible. One of the issues that jumps to the surface repeatedly concerns the relationship God’s people are to have with the people of the world.

Ezra arrived in Jerusalem in about 458 BC. He was a highly motivated and trained teacher of the Law of Moses, with a desire to teach God’s word to the people. Sadly, what he found was that the people of Judah had completely integrated themselves with the children of the world in the region. Ezra knew how this violated the Law and angered God. He led a revival which caused the people of Judah to transform those worldly relationships so radically that even their marriages with the pagans were severed. They claimed to be God’s people, but entirely ignored God commandments. Ezra knew God would not tolerate that. Everything looked on track after the people repented and began to obey the Law.

About 14 years passed before Nehemiah arrived on the scene to oversee the building of Jerusalem’s wall. He was as highly motivated as Ezra, only for the wall project. Fifty-two days later, VIOLA, the wall was finished, in spite of the many troubles they encountered from the people of the world in that area. Nehemiah’s next oversaw a population redistribution project, since hardly anyone actually lived in Jerusalem. That also involved raising funds from donations so that Jerusalem could financially stand on it’s feet.

Then Ezra took center stage and read the Law to the people, while the Levites explained it to them. Men, women and children gathered to hear and learn God’s Law. It broke their hearts to hear how disobedient they had been to God’s commands. That proved to be a day of massive confession and repentance among the people of Judah, followed by the most detailed pledges of faithfulness to the LORD ever made; pledges even with curses on themselves for disobedience.

Everything looked so good that Nehemiah felt that he could return to Artaxerxes, as he had promised, and report what all had been done. Most scholars believe that Nehemiah was gone at least 10 years.

Hoping to find the people faithfully serving Jehovah, Nehemiah was stunned to learn of the level of poisonous disobedience. The very Temple area was contaminated by the High Priest allowing one of the troublesome pagans in the area to live in one of the rooms. Nehemiah threw him and his things out. Since he couldn’t trust the High Priest, Nehemiah had to handle the raising of funds to supply the needs of the priests and Levites, so that they could do their daily jobs. He also had to straighten out the Jews who were violating the Sabbath with pagan businesses. But what infuriated him the most was the intermarriage with the pagans, which had returned after Ezra’s previous housecleaning some 25 years ago. And worst of all, the priests and Levites, even the High Priest’s own grandson, were guilty.

Conclusion: If you are a professing Christian and this sounds way over the top to you, even mean-spirited, check out: 1 Cor. 6:14-16 Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? 15What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? Or what does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? 16What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God.”

So would you go into business with an unbeliever as your partner? Do your children know that marrying an unbeliever is totally unacceptable in your family? Does everyone in your family understand that as a Christian, having unbelieving friends is OK, but not best friends?

Please learn from the Israelites and Ezra and Nehemiah. God’s children, who are faithful servants of His Son Jesus, are light and therefore close relationships with darkness are wrong. Need to make some changes? If you disregard 2 Cor. 6:14-16, you may be a lot of things, but faithful child of God isn’t one of them. 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.

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