Ezra 10: Our God Is an Awesome God
August 8, 2020
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
The principle at stake here is one that is reaffirmed in the New Testament (1 Corinthians 7:39), but it is important to understand the nature of the problem. What mattered was not the “race” of the people concerned—Israel was always meant to be a light to the nations, and God’s church is a people from every tribe and nation and tongue. No, the issue was the faith of those involved.
To marry—purposefully, rebelliously—someone who does not follow God is to cause a split in the household: between you and your spouse, and even more so between you and your children, confusing their identity and their loyalty to God. It is certainly possible for God to use such marriages for his glory, and the extreme example of the exiles here to “put away their wives” (10:19) is not specifically countenanced in the New Testament. In fact, Paul directly addresses this scenario in the Corinthian church and advised those who were married to non-Christians not to divorce but to stay married (1 Corinthians 7:12).
But that situation was different again from this one: in that instance, when the gospel came to Corinth, some men, for instance, became Christians while their wives did not. What then were they to do? Paul advised them, if possible, to stay married and have a gospel influence on their wives and their household. But here in Israel, the exiles returning found that many followers of God had purposely married those who were not followers of God. It was one thing for a non-Christian married to a non-Christian, once converted, to find himself in a marriage where both partners are not believers; it is another thing for someone who is a mature believer to go and seek an unbelieving wife or husband.
At any rate, their solution was radical, but it was also faithful. Fearful lest God’s wrath come upon them again, they spurned idolatry and sought God, albeit taking it easily in terms of timing (10:13), and we presume with gentleness and consideration therefore. At its heart this is a call to put aside the idols of our lives, if there be such, and commit to God alone and his Word alone, even if such commitment costs us. Remember, our God is an awesome God.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
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