Saturday, October 5. Ezra 8 – 10

It is difficult to be less politically correct than Ezra in chapter nine.

Think about it. How often do you hear mourning, prayers of desperation and see much hand-wringing when Christians marry non-Christians? If we did that sort of thing, how do you think it would be seen and received?

Is there a prohibition against marrying non-Christians?

I cannot find such a specific reference and even the law of Exodus 34:11-16 and Deuteronomy 7:1-4 (alluded to in this chapter) were not directly applicable in Ezra’s day. After all, the whole point of those laws was that Israel was to exterminate the Canaanites. You cannot exterminate them and inter-marry with them. But the days of extermination were far past and there was no indication that this law was intended to be an eternal command.

But inter-marriage did something else (as can be clearly seen in the case of Solomon): It weakened the dedication of Israel to the Lord. It still does.

As we read Ezra’s prayer, notice that though he is not guilty of this offense, he lumps his lot in with the people, he is one of them and one with them. He shares their guilt. There is no individual relationship with God. Our relationship with God is through the people of God.

Notice also that what Ezra is mourning is not so much just a violation of a command, but a seeming wholesale inattentiveness to threats against spirituality. When the spiritual dangers of marrying outside the community of faith never enter our mind, it is time, like Ezra, to mourn.