God is Setting All Things Right. So I am Blogging Through the Bible in a Year.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

September 25 - Ezra 7-10: Ezra Goes to Jerusalem; Israelites Separate from Foreign Wives

Today’s Reading: Ezra 6-10

The Message

English Standard Version

Ezra brings us to 36 books! Only 3 left.

Thought to Guide Your Reading

The sin Ezra prays to God about is unholiness not interracial marriage.

Summary in 100 Words or Less

King Artaxerxes sent Ezra, a descendent of Aaron dedicated to studying, living, and teaching God's Word, to Jerusalem to restart Temple worship.
Ezra asked Levites to join the travelling party. They fasted and prayed for wisdom and guidance from God. When they arrived they offered sacrifices.
Ezra learned that some Israelites had married foreign women. Ezra ripped his clothes and prayed to God because they made ties with the people in the land.
Shecaniah suggested everyone remove their foreign wives and children and separate from the people of the land to honor God's Law. Israel agreed and did just that.

How Today’s Reading Contributes to the Gospel: God is Setting All Things Right

Ezra was sent to Jerusalem because Artaxerxes saw he was dedicated to God.

What a great description of Ezra. He was not only dedicated to learning God's Law, he was dedicated to living God's Law. Because of this God was with Him and Artaxerxes could see this. When God's Chosen People dedicate themselves to God's Law, the whole world knows God is with them.

Ezra sought God's guidance on his life.

The journey from Babylon to Jerusalem was not as safe as today; therefore, Ezra asked God to help him and the others arrive safely. They wanted God's guidance in how much to request in gold and assistance for the Temple. God's Chosen People should ask God for guidance in all areas of life.

The issue with foreign wives is a matter of allegiance, not race.

The last two chapters of Ezra are often ignored because they seem to bring a contradiction in something we will read next week. What we must understand when reading this section is that they are not suggesting divorcing these women because they want to keep Israel's blood pure. Back in the book of Exodus God told Israel
Be careful that you don't make a covenant with the people who live in the land and take up with their sex-and-religion life, join them in meals at their altars, marry your sons to their women, women who take up with any convenient god or goddess and will get your sons to do the same thing. (34:15-16, The Message)
Even though the translation of Ezra 9:2 could be "holy race" (as in the ESV), the emphasis is holy race. The issue is allegiance to God not racial purity. The reason these women needed to go was because they would tempt God's Chosen People to worship other gods—as they had with Solomon, starting a chain of events which sent both nations into exile. God wants His Chosen People to be fully devoted to Him and not to marry those who are not fully devoted to Him.
What does this mean for us today? Do not marry someone who does not have full allegiance toward God setting all things right. Remember, this is not about denominational or racial purity. Having split allegiances in marriage is difficult for the one fully dedicated to God setting all things right. If you are already married, Paul will have something to say to you, so I will leave the idea here and pick it up in 1 Corinthians.

Can people see God is with you because you are dedicated to studying, living, and teaching His Way?

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