I’m currently preparing an advanced study of Ezra, Nehemiah & Esther for our Wednesday night adult Bible class. I just arrived at prep-work for Ezra chapters 9-10. If you are familiar with Ezra, you know that it is where he comes face to face with the sinful marriage mess created by the post-exilic Jews during the 80 years since Zerubbabel had led the great return of the Jews to Jerusalem. After a long and hard 4 month, 900 mile journey, Ezra was thinking about resting, not sorting out giant troubles. But a dangerous, poisonous infestation defied him like Goliath did King Saul. It was time for Ezra to prove exactly what he was made of; time to prove his character; time to fight sin.
Here is the text: 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.”
It has always amazed me how often preaches and teachers address this section of Scripture under the heading of “interracial marriage” and then focused on “skin color.” The sin of the Israelites had nothing to do with the color of a person’s skin. The command from the LORD was all about “the detestable practices” of the pagan nations; it was Jehovah’s condemnation of INTER-FAITH marriage. God said NO to one of His children marrying anyone from another faith.
So how did Ezra react? 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 couldn’t believe that his fellow Jews had so dangerously violated God’s words. What did he do next? He prayed a 397 word, confession-filled pray that is as open and honest and powerful as any pray in the entire Bible. But it wasn’t Ezra who came to Israel’s rescue, it was Shekaniah. He stated, “Then Shekaniah son of Jehiel, one of the descendants of Elam, said to Ezra, ‘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.’ ”
The remedy? “send away all these women and their children.” Why? Because GOD SAID SO! Why did God say so? Because He loved His children too much to see them endangered by the pagan religions around them; He loved them too much to watch them become pagans and force Him to condemn them.
Do you think God doesn’t feel that way anymore? Check out 2 Cor. 6:14-15: “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? Or what does a believer have in common with an unbeliever?”
If you are a teenager who is a professing Christian and you are seriously dating a non-Christian, you have crystal clear BREAK UP orders from Father God. Unwilling to do so? Then you are a fake. If you are a professing Christian who is engaged to a non-Christian, either admit you really aren’t a serious Christian or end that engagement today. Are you a professing Christian who is married to a non-Christian, then admit you foolishly made a serious mistake, remain with that unbeliever and try your best to set the best example possible. Paul realized some Christians had foolishly married unbelievers and in 1 Cor. 7:12-16 told those Christians that they “must not divorce” them, hoping to win them to Christ later.
God always has and still does today, love His kids too much to accept them having romantic relationships with unbelievers. He commands that CHRISTIANS ONLY MARRY CHRISTIANS and that CHRISTIANS ONLY SERIOUSLY DATE CHRISTIANS. Is that clear enough for you? God bless.
Mike Sublett is a pastor at Hi-Land Christian Church, 1615 N. Banks St., Pampa, Texas 79065. Email him at email@example.com.