by Christina Farris
1 Now when Ezra had prayed, and when he had confessed, weeping and casting himself down before the house of God, there assembled unto him out of Israel a very great congregation of men and women and children: for the people wept very sore.
2 And Shechaniah the son of Jehiel, one of the sons of Elam, answered and said unto Ezra, We have trespassed against our God, and have taken strange wives of the people of the land: yet now there is hope in Israel concerning this thing.
3 Now therefore let us make a covenant with our God to put away all the wives, and such as are born of them, according to the counsel of my lord, and of those that tremble at the commandment of our God; and let it be done according to the law.
4 Arise; for this matter belongeth unto thee: we also will be with thee: be of good courage, and do it.
5 Then arose Ezra, and made the chief priests, the Levites, and all Israel, to swear that they should do according to this word. And they sware.
6 Then Ezra rose up from before the house of God, and went into the chamber of Johanan the son of Eliashib: and when he came thither, he did eat no bread, nor drink water: for he mourned because of the transgression of them that had been carried away.
7 And they made proclamation throughout Judah and Jerusalem unto all the children of the captivity, that they should gather themselves together unto Jerusalem;
8 And that whosoever would not come within three days, according to the counsel of the princes and the elders, all his substance should be forfeited, and himself separated from the congregation of those that had been carried away.
9 Then all the men of Judah and Benjamin gathered themselves together unto Jerusalem within three days. It was the ninth month, on the twentieth day of the month; and all the people sat in the street of the house of God, trembling because of this matter, and for the great rain.
10 And Ezra the priest stood up, and said unto them, Ye have transgressed, and have taken strange wives, to increase the trespass of Israel.
11 Now therefore make confession unto the LORD God of your fathers, and do his pleasure: and separate yourselves from the people of the land, and from the strange wives.
12 Then all the congregation answered and said with a loud voice, As thou hast said, so must we do.
13 But the people are many, and it is a time of much rain, and we are not able to stand without, neither is this a work of one day or two: for we are many that have transgressed in this thing.
14 Let now our rulers of all the congregation stand, and let all them which have taken strange wives in our cities come at appointed times, and with them the elders of every city, and the judges thereof, until the fierce wrath of our God for this matter be turned from us.
15 Only Jonathan the son of Asahel and Jahaziah the son of Tikvah were employed about this matter: and Meshullam and Shabbethai the Levite helped them.
16 And the children of the captivity did so. And Ezra the priest, with certain chief of the fathers, after the house of their fathers, and all of them by their names, were separated, and sat down in the first day of the tenth month to examine the matter.
17 And they made an end with all the men that had taken strange wives by the first day of the first month.
18 And among the sons of the priests there were found that had taken strange wives: namely, of the sons of Jeshua the son of Jozadak, and his brethren; Maaseiah, and Eliezer, and Jarib, and Gedaliah.
19 And they gave their hands that they would put away their wives; and being guilty, they offered a ram of the flock for their trespass.
20 And of the sons of Immer; Hanani, and Zebadiah.
21 And of the sons of Harim; Maaseiah, and Elijah, and Shemaiah, and Jehiel, and Uzziah.
22 And of the sons of Pashur; Elioenai, Maaseiah, Ishmael, Nethaneel, Jozabad, and Elasah.
23 Also of the Levites; Jozabad, and Shimei, and Kelaiah, (the same is Kelita,) Pethahiah, Judah, and Eliezer.
24 Of the singers also; Eliashib: and of the porters; Shallum, and Telem, and Uri.
25 Moreover of Israel: of the sons of Parosh; Ramiah, and Jeziah, and Malchiah, and Miamin, and Eleazar, and Malchijah, and Benaiah.
26 And of the sons of Elam; Mattaniah, Zechariah, and Jehiel, and Abdi, and Jeremoth, and Eliah.
27 And of the sons of Zattu; Elioenai, Eliashib, Mattaniah, and Jeremoth, and Zabad, and Aziza.
28 Of the sons also of Bebai; Jehohanan, Hananiah, Zabbai, and Athlai.
29 And of the sons of Bani; Meshullam, Malluch, and Adaiah, Jashub, and Sheal, and Ramoth.
30 And of the sons of Pahathmoab; Adna, and Chelal, Benaiah, Maaseiah, Mattaniah, Bezaleel, and Binnui, and Manasseh.
31 And of the sons of Harim; Eliezer, Ishijah, Malchiah, Shemaiah, Shimeon,
32 Benjamin, Malluch, and Shemariah.
33 Of the sons of Hashum; Mattenai, Mattathah, Zabad, Eliphelet, Jeremai, Manasseh, and Shimei.
34 Of the sons of Bani; Maadai, Amram, and Uel,
35 Benaiah, Bedeiah, Chelluh,
36 Vaniah, Meremoth, Eliashib,
37 Mattaniah, Mattenai, and Jaasau,
38 And Bani, and Binnui, Shimei,
39 And Shelemiah, and Nathan, and Adaiah,
40 Machnadebai, Shashai, Sharai,
41 Azareel, and Shelemiah, Shemariah,
42 Shallum, Amariah, and Joseph.
43 Of the sons of Nebo; Jeiel, Mattithiah, Zabad, Zebina, Jadau, and Joel, Benaiah.
44 All these had taken strange wives: and some of them had wives by whom they had children. The knowledge of sin is not enough sometimes to be able to be cleansed from sin. Sometimes one has to remove the sin from themselves. This passage of scripture above is much of a culture clash as one can get in our world in America. Yet in the New Testament marriage is allowed of strange women or women not of the man's faith. The culture clash of not understanding the reality of sin upon generation of sin in regards of homes being divided by religion much like our nation. There are fundamentalist today that will not even have a friend outside their religion or consider the person at minum not a true friend, let us not think what would happen in these groups of outsider coming in and marrying. Paul in I Corinthians 7 in our continual scripture study verses is speaking to keep one wife, in contrary to Old Testament law. Culture is different in Corinthian then in Jerusalem. If Paul been writing America, he would of implied to keep one's spouse despite religious difference unless it was causing marital problem to the point it warranted divorce. There are times in a marriage one can not agree on anything and it can feel controlling down the to point of no compromise to even disagree. That okay, a person might try and claim there always peace in a marriage but religion and money are one of the biggest fighting words next to politics that can divide a home. Lack of intimacy will wreck a home as well as to much intimacy. Marriage in issue of disagreement should come to a point of either unsolvable, or agreement to disagree, or agreement to work on those areas of agreement.
Now Israel was working on cleaning up there act in Ezra and they were going through the laws without full understanding of the law. Abraham had a wife/lover he put away and sent her back to her homeland that was his wife maid. The reason he sent her away because of to much friction between his wife Sarah and Hagar the maid. Putting away was as older then the law, but Hagar issue had nothing to do with religion. The putting away of wives or divorcing them often had nothing to do with religion but infidility. Yet in this case it would be about religion. In this case it would divide families, and in this case it would cause segregation of a people based on religion. This chapter can be also looked at as a dedication to their God and that the men of Israel desire to do the right thing by the laws of God. God was more important then their wives and children. That there faith was being re established under the rebuilding of the Temple. Yet it also shows the importance of putting away sin that causes separation from God. The people of Israel were to come together to address sin, whether they had a large tent that held all of them we do not know, but what we know it was wet and rainy and miserable during this time of repentance and renewal of faith.
There are times when faith is more imporant then what is consider not issue by others, that one needs to put it away. For instance one might feel smoking and drinking is sin even in social situations, that one will put it away from one's own lips and sometimes even stop visiting those people that do those things. It has nothing to do with being better then another, it has to do with your own purity, your own sanctification before God. God sanctifies every sin will be removed out of your life sooner or later. Some sin must be pointed out, and other sin is known. The reading of the law point out sin to both Ezra the Prophet and Shechaniah that foreign wives needed to be removed from congregation of Israel and their families. That a sacrifice need to be made for this sin.
If one has been a Christian for a while everything is no longer sin. Is it a lack of knowledge of the word of God and it has to do with reality of our humanity and our striving to live for God and putting away those things that interfer in that relationship with God. Foreign wives were target because of their foreign gods and goddess. There would be some of Israel faith and some that might be prostylete to Israel faith in God and that was okay. However, the general rule of thumb was foreign wives did not accept the faith of Israel. This was unacceptable to God and his people that reckonize the laws about not taking foreign women to be wives.
They put their wives and children of different faith away. Did not mean they outcasted them, but they were no longer allowed to be part of their household. It did not mean they were not cared for or provided for. Hosea the prophet took a wife of whoredom, and married her because God was setting him as example to Israel of what they were doing in regards of their own faith. Is what God saying do sound in opposition to his word, then ask what is the purpose of this, what can I learn. If God does not change who changed, the laws of God or the laws of man. Which are we following? The wife of whoredom was not an idolater. Only cheated on Hosea. God would show through his marriage how Israel was treating him in their relationship. This prophet might seem a little questionable or maybe those laws of God are suppose to be about one's relationship with God and not always about sin against man. How is drinking and smoking harmful to your relationship with God. It had to do with are these things more important then prayer, Bible study, time and worship with God. The foreign wives of Israel were leading the men from their God that they choose to serve and believe in.
What is your life that is separating you from God? You might feel there is nothing, but now that you are concious of it, go through your day, your week and look around you, and ask is there something interferring in my worship and life dedication to God. If it is something you can physically get rid of without causing harm to another do so. If it is your family ask yourself how can you make time for God. If it your spouse ask, do I have freedom to worship God in my home and if so, ask God how you can be a witness to your spouse through prayer, through point out the works of God in your own life and the things you pray for, concerning your family. Make it habit. If your spouse is not accepting of your freedom consider leaving, or praying. If violence is occuring you need to leave. If hope it growing, keep praying, it might take into old age for partner to receive Christ, but it maybe in old age deliverance will come and the two of you will be destine for heaven together, hopefully with your whole household. God desire all to be saved including your family. Pray for them seek God daily for your family, your friends that know not Christ and pray for yourself that you will not pushy, but speak by God's Holy Spirit when directed to do so.
Dear Heavenly Father move in the homes of your people today, not to rid themselves of their family unit but to be encouragers of what God can do for those lost in the family, they will be saved also. In Jesus precious name, Amen.
Continual Scripture Study:1 Corinthians 7:10-14 KJV
10 And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from her husband:
11 But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried, or be reconciled to her husband: and let not the husband put away his wife.
12 But to the rest speak I, not the Lord: If any brother hath a wife that believeth not, and she be pleased to dwell with him, let him not put her away.
13 And the woman which hath an husband that believeth not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him.
14 For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy.