Today's reading in our daily plan is Ezra 9. Take a moment to pray, asking God to speak to you from this passage. Then read, using the following notes and questions to help you get everything out of the passage.
SAY WHAT? (What is the passage saying?)
- Throughout the Bible God forbids His people from marrying those who don't share their faith (see Exodus 34:11-16, Deuteronomy 7:1-4, 2 Corinthians 6:14). The reason is because when people who believe in God marry people who don't, the result is typically that the person of faith drifts from God and starts adopting the beliefs and practices of their spouse. This is what happened with the Israelites, which is why Ezra is so upset (verses 1-4).
- In their culture, tearing your clothes or pulling out your hair (verses 3-5) was a sign of sorrow.
- Ezra took sin seriously and repented and sought God's mercy when he recognized that he and/or his community had offended God (verses 5-15).
- Many people discount what God says about only marrying someone who shares their faith, or they make take it seriously, but feel like it's ok to date someone outside their faith, and then end up marrying that person. For a Christian, Jesus is the most important thing in their lives. Marrying a non-Christian means joining yourself to and trying to build a life with someone who thinks Jesus is not important at all. You cannot establish a God-honoring happy family when you have opposing faiths and values.
- Ezra's prayer (verses 5-15) is a great example of what we should do when we realize that we (or our community) have sinned. Ezra recognized that sin is serious (verse 6), that sin hurts others (verse 7), that he was not without sin (verse 10 and following), and that God's grace is our hope when we sin (verses 8, 9 and 15).
NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
- How seriously do you take sin? Do you realize that it is an offense to a holy and just God, that is a very big deal to Him?
- And what do you do when you sin? Do you accept it and continue in it? Or feel a little guilty but think, "What can I do now?" When we sin, the right response, as we see with Ezra, is to take it to God, to repent of it and to seek God's mercy. Perhaps you should take some time now to examine yourself and see if there is some sin you haven't dealt with. If there is, confess it, repent of it, and receive God's forgiveness.