July 24, 2017
LET IT GLOW
With whom are your children mingling? I know, we don't put it that way today. So let me put it in our terms. Are your children marrying unbelievers? Are they running around with friends who do not worship our God? Are they association with immoral heathens? We tend to take on the attitudes of those with whom we associate. Today we will find out the Jews who first returned to Jerusalem and built the Temple had such a problem.
Do we remember the joy which the first group of returned Jews to Jerusalem had whenever the Temple was finally finished? This group of about 50,000 Jews left their captives in Babylon to be free to worship God. Only some 75 years later, when Ezra and the second group of Jews returned to Jerusalem, they found those brethren slaves again, but this time they were slaves to their own sin and lust. Ezra had the problem reported to him.
What was the sad condition of the Jews already living in Jerusalem?
- They had not separated themselves from the peoples of the land. (verse 1)
- This included the Jewish people of Israel, the priests, and the Levites. (verse 1)
- They did according to the abominations of those heathens listed in verse 1.
- They had intermarried their daughters with the heathens' sons and their sons with the heathens' daughters. Thus, the holy seed of the Jews was mingled with the unbelieving heathens, including the princes and rulers. (verse 2)
In Deuteronomy 7:2, Israel is instructed to utterly destroy the heathens in the land, make no covenants with them, nor show them mercy.
Verse 3 says for them to neither make marriages with them, for they would turn Israel's sons from following God, to serve other gods.
In verse 6, the Lord called Israel a holy people unto the LORD thy God, a special people unto Himself, above all the people that are upon the face of the earth.
Know therefore that the LORD thy God, He is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love Him and keep His commandments to a thousand generations.
Did you pick up on the description of Israel's God, our God? He is the only God, faithful, keeps His word in covenant, and loves us who love Him and keep His commands.
Are our children mingling, intermarrying with unbelievers? Are we warning the next generation of such a thing is against God's ways?
LET IT GROW
This sin was not limited to the common people, for the leaders in Israel were just as guilty. Chances are, their example and influence probably lead the folks into sin.
How did Ezra react to his news?
- He showed deep remorse and sorrow, plucking out some of his hear on his head and beard, astonied.
- This symbolized the extreme personal pain he felt due to the sin of the people.
- Ezra gathered those who trembled at the words of the God of Israel. they had been true to God and heard the Lord.
- Ezra sat astonied until the evening sacrifice. (verse 4)
I can't believe they did that. What were they thinking? Why in the world did they do that? I am shocked. No way they would do such a thing.
So many times we may think or say those phrases. But when we let down our guard, we become susceptible to discouragement, which is one of the Devil's greatest weapons. The lack of separation from worldly ways or from unbelievers can lead to immorality and idolatry, just as it happened to the Jews Ezra wrote about here.
However, let us not point our finger accusing folks of wrong, nor let us fluff it off, but notice what Ezra did-spread out his hands to God in prayer. Here is Ezra, the leader of the second group of Jews returning to Jerusalem, humbling himself under the mighty hands of God.
Will we spread out our hands to God? Will we lay it all out, concealing nothing, bearing our mind and soul naked before our God? Will we hold nothing back from God, admitting our sins, our nation's sins, our family's sins?
Paul told Timothy, I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting. 1 Timothy 2:8)
LET IT GO
Beware associating and mingling with unbelievers.
Spread out my hands to God in prayer, admitting my sins and the sins of others, begging for His mercy and forgiveness.