by Zeke Flores
Some 2400 years ago, God’s people were confronted with their sins yet again. When Ezra the priest heard about how Israel had broken God’s law by marrying foreign women, he tore his robes, prayed, and fasted. When faced with the gravity of disobedience to God, the people committed themselves to faithfulness. And it would certainly take commitment. They separated themselves from their pagan wives and offered sacrifices to God for their failure to obey.
Now, the New Testament doesn’t forbid such marriages, but there are two principles that have remained the same throughout man’s history:
- No one likes to be confronted about their sin, and
- bad influences still badly influence.
In times past when God’s people were brought face-to-face with their disobedience, their instinct was to deny it, ignore it, silence the messenger, or all three! Rarely do we see any real repentance on the part of the nation as a whole. Not that it didn’t happen, but it was the exception rather than the rule.
Why were they so unruly? Bad influence, plain and simple. By mixing themselves with their pagan neighbors in friendship and marriage, they left themselves ripe for being reshaped in their thinking and actions according to the ways of those godless neighbors. Of course, the poster boy for this is Israel’s king Solomon who married and carried on with a whole passel of pagan women and paid the price of apostasy for it.
Still, some Christians play on the edge of a cliff. They dance near the edge of sin and never notice when they overstep and fall headlong. Famed coach Bill McCartney once said, “Draw a line where there’s a danger of being caught in sin and stay ten yards back.” Better yet, know where the line is and stay a mile away! Don’t even go near the edge.
In the final chapter of Ezra, the men sent their foreign wives and children away. That seems harsh and cold, but the whole situation existed because of their disobedience and it was the only remedy. Sometimes repentance calls for drastic action. If you want God’s approval and blessing, acknowledge your sin. Confess it. Then, forsake it.
Then Ezra the priest stood up and said to them, “You have been unfaithful and have married foreign wives adding to the guilt of Israel. 'Now therefore, make confession to the LORD God of your fathers and do His will; and separate yourselves from the peoples of the land and from the foreign wives.' Then all the assembly replied with a loud voice, 'That’s right! As you have said, so it is our duty to do'" (Ezra 10:10-12).
"Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness?" (II Corinthians 6:14).