Tag Archives: mixed marriages

Settling into Life

The last few chapters of Nehemiah capture for us the reality of living life back in the Promise Land. The work of establishing a place of common worship, the restoral of daily sacrifices and offering and the reading of the word of God daily in the Temple all have resumed. The Temple and the city of Jerusalem are secure once again. Those who had rightful inheritance live within the walls. The scribes, priests, gatekeepers and singers are developing a “routine” in life. Man it feels good to be back home after a long absence! Coming out of chapter 9 which was a REVIVAL of the people. There is then chapter 10, with the identification of the signers of the Covenant. I couldn’t help but think of the USA and the original signers of our Constitution. I have often thought of the similarities of Israel and America. No I’m not talking politically! God has blessed people for their worship and obedience to His Word. When we fail to remember that HE is God and WE are not; then a resulting downfall is imminent. Far too long America has banked on the blessings of God, without any corresponding obedience to Him and His Word. I have heard some pastors even exclaim that America is GOD’s gift to the World. There is a definite arrogance about Americans. It wasn’t until I was overseas did I come to the reality of the expression “Ugly Americans.” For the very same reasons of disobedience and pride that brought Israel into a tumultuous time, even so I believe America is headed in the same direction. We cannot count on just the Blessings of God; we must also know the divine correction of God. The Father in Heaven loves His children, but He will not tolerate “brats.”  There is a great need for a Holy Ghost, spirit breaking, confessional, repentant of sins, glorifying God revival; In the CHURCH. I’ll be doing a study on the Seven Churches’ in Revelation 1-3 soon. Something that must be noted, every church has problems. Mainly self-induced problems. If warnings are not observed when pronounced by God – through His Word and prophets, then there is a reality that the “Lamp” will go out. Jesus will extinguish the Lamp.

Israel discovered that their existence was in jeopardy when carried away into exile. They got and woke up for hundreds of years. I do not know what it will take for the Church in America to wake up? As a Church Revitalization person, I see churches that are ready to die. They don’t care; all they know is that they will not do anything to stay alive. Long before the Church doors close; the Holy Spirit of God has left. The Holy Spirit does not inhabit “dead people!” The problem with Israel before the captivity is the same problem with Churches today – we think we are bigger than God. We think that the CHURCH is ours! They may own the building – but the building IS NOT THE CHURCH. Enough preaching.

As a result of the Holy Spirit driven revival the people – Jews made changes in their living. Sin was no longer acceptable. It wasn’t just about doing the right things as it was also not doing the wrong things. When revival occurs, it affects every aspect of life. Just as Jesus indwelling our bodies through the Holy Spirit saturates our lives. The Work of living was the focus of the people. It is one thing to rebuild – quite another to live out on a continual basis what was covenanted during the revival. Sure all the rituals of worship were restored, the practices of the people and the labors to keep and sustain the place of worship had to be accomplished. But, having an awesome worship experience isn’t all God wants. He wants ALL of you and me! Ever detail of every area of our lives. Just as Jesus told the rich young ruler, “there is one thing thou lackest, go and sell all that you have and come follow Me.”  All In- is the minimum requirement of following Jesus. There was a lingering problem of “unequally yoked marriages.” Israel had been told NOT to do it, they did it anyway. In Nehemiah 13- Solomon is the bad example and warning against mixed marriages. Please rise above RACIAL prejudices. This is a spiritual problem even today. Believers are inter-marrying with unbelievers and becoming casualties. DO NOT DO IT!

The problem stretched from the lowest social class to the priests. If revival is really going to be a lasting revival – we must continue the work of renewal as Nehemiah. The books of Ezra and Nehemiah are not solely about repairs and building of the Temple and Walls. It was about building and restoring the Faith and obedience of God’s people. Nehemiah says at the end of the book; “Thus I purified them from everything foreign.” May we have purified lives before our God!

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Altar of Confession

Ezra 9 and 10; After the Temple altar was restored and worship resumed for the Jews a set of steps that would change the course of the returning Jews occurred. As with any time the people of God have a revival, the Holy Spirit will bring conviction to the hearts of the people about their personal and corporate lives. After having rustled through the debris and remains to find the foundation of the Temple and Altar, the people restored the place of worship again. But the place of worship was nothing like the original altar. This altar had stains, cracks and scars from the past. Just like our lives do when we rebel against God – our lives can be restored, because God is merciful and longsuffering towards us; but we are never the same. Ezra was giving the exiles a steady diet of the Law given to Moses. The were standing for 6 hours listening to the Word. Romans 10:17 – faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. Believers must return to that place of departure; that place where the disobedience started. This doesn’t just have spiritual implications, it also affects the physical lives they lived.

Too often I have talked with people who fell back into sin; there was repentance and rejoicing at returning, but there was also consequences for their actions. God is gracious and forgives; but events were put into motion that would have a pay-day. The people had inter-marriage with the local people. The nation had disobeyed what God said in Exodus and repeated in Deuteronomy – DO NOT MARRY FROM THE NATIONS OF CANAAN. During the first return under Zerubbaal, the people refused to build the Temple, instead built their own houses and became comfortable back in the Land. How soon we forget and repeat the very sin that caused us to be in trouble in the first place. God said don’t inter-marry with the tribes He was casting out! Now I imagine someone is thinking that God is racist – that mixed ethnicity marriages are forbidden. God’s position for not inter-marrying was SPIRITUAL! Solomon proves this to us with his many wives and concubines – they led him astray and he faltered at the end of His life. ! Corinthians tells us “what fellowship does light have with darkness? ” Come out from among them!

What does all this have to do with Ezra? The Word preached brought conviction about the wrongful marriages – up and down the line they were marrying and giving in marriage with the inhabitants of the destroyed Land. God sent Judah into captivity because of their disobedience and to purge the Land. The Land is God’s promise to Abraham. The Promise is still valid.

The people had to come to grips and do what was right about their wrongful marriages. I can’t tell you how many people have wrongfully married the wrong person. Spiritual unequally yoked marriages have been proven to fail. I know so many girls that will marry a boy who is lost because they are in love and they open themselves up to a life of heartache.

Well there is the conviction of wrong, then came the confession of their wrong. Chapter 10, the people own up to their sin. It sounds so harsh that Chapter 10:3 says that they put away their wives and children. But reading the rest of the chapter that’s what they vowed to do. From the priests on down, they made a pledge and oath to separate themselves from the people of the Land.  I would imagine many of you reading this are appalled – wasn’t the action too radical? Their choice – Get right with God or continue in disobedience. We have to make the decision as well. A believer knows what is right before God and what is not. There are no acceptable sins in the Plan of God. The Jews then were convicted, confessed and the consecrated themselves to God. Three days they were given – make your decision, if you choose to live with the people of the world, you forfeit your inheritance in the Land. The people listened to Ezra – their answer is found in 10:12 – “That’s right!”

Two wrongs never make a right. Chapter 11 gives a list of the offenders – priests, Levites, singers, and sons of Israel. The Jews were infiltrated with sin, there had to be a total cleansing. Cleansing hurts. Dealing with conviction through confession is right; but we must finish the return to God by repenting – turning from our sin, and any consequences derived from our sin. When the Temple worship began again, true worship resulted in the people.

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