Ezra 10:1-17 (18-44) HOPE FOR REPENTANT SINNERS -devotional 11-11-19

Ezra 10:1-17 (18-44) HOPE FOR REPENTANT SINNERS -devotional 11-11-19

Ezra 10:1-17 (18-44)                             Kevin E. Jesmer

Key Verse: 10:2b                                   11-11-19

“…. “We have broken faith with our God and have married foreign women from the peoples of the land, but even now there is hope for Israel in spite of this”

Dear Lord Jesus. Thank you for your word that is a light unto our path. Thank you for your word that drives up to take hold of Jesus our Savior. I need you Lord. Stay near and help me to serve you by faith. Please help me to learn many new things from this passage. Help me to grow through it. I thank you and I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen!

Part 1: Sitting In The Rain In Misery (1-15)

Verses 1-15, “While Ezra prayed and made confession, weeping and casting himself down before the house of God, a very great assembly of men, women, and children, gathered to him out of Israel, for the people wept bitterly. 2 And Shecaniah the son of Jehiel, of the sons of Elam, addressed Ezra: “We have broken faith with our God and have married foreign women from the peoples of the land, but even now there is hope for Israel in spite of this. 3 Therefore let us make a covenant with our God to put away all these wives and their children, according to the counsel of my lord and of those who tremble at the commandment of our God, and let it be done according to the Law. 4 Arise, for it is your task, and we are with you; be strong and do it.” 5 Then Ezra arose and made the leading priests and Levites and all Israel take an oath that they would do as had been said. So they took the oath.

6 Then Ezra withdrew from before the house of God and went to the chamber of Jehohanan the son of Eliashib, where he spent the night, neither eating bread nor drinking water, for he was mourning over the faithlessness of the exiles. 7 And a proclamation was made throughout Judah and Jerusalem to all the returned exiles that they should assemble at Jerusalem, 8 and that if anyone did not come within three days, by order of the officials and the elders all his property should be forfeited, and he himself banned from the congregation of the exiles.

9 Then all the men of Judah and Benjamin assembled at Jerusalem within the three days. It was the ninth month, on the twentieth day of the month. And all the people sat in the open square before the house of God, trembling because of this matter and because of the heavy rain. 10 And Ezra the priest stood up and said to them, “You have broken faith and married foreign women, and so increased the guilt of Israel. 11 Now then make confession to the Lord, the God of your fathers and do his will. Separate yourselves from the peoples of the land and from the foreign wives.” 12 Then all the assembly answered with a loud voice, “It is so; we must do as you have said. 13 But the people are many, and it is a time of heavy rain; we cannot stand in the open. Nor is this a task for one day or for two, for we have greatly transgressed in this matter. 14 Let our officials stand for the whole assembly. Let all in our cities who have taken foreign wives come at appointed times, and with them the elders and judges of every city, until the fierce wrath of our God over this matter is turned away from us.” 15 Only Jonathan the son of Asahel and Jahzeiah the son of Tikvah opposed this, and Meshullam and Shabbethai the Levite supported them.

Ezra’s tears of repentance moved the hearts of the returnees. They realized that their only hope lay in real repentance. So, on an appointed day, all the men gathered in the square in Jerusalem. It was raining hard. Ezra ignored the rain; he reminded them that they had been unfaithful to God in marrying godless women. He challenged them to repent and separate from the godless people of the land. They didn’t argue; they agreed to do as he said— but they wanted to come in out of the rain!”

I can see here, phases of repentance. At first, they recognized their sin. They saw it with the sincere repentance of one man, Ezra. Then they confessed their own sin. They then made a covenant with God, beginning with their marriage situation. They took practical steps to engage in very real repentance. All of the leaders had to come to a central meeting place and enter in to this new covenant. They took repentance very seriously. There were some serious consequences for those who did not want to participate in this corporate repentance.

Can we repent like this? It is so rare. I remember reading about the very real and very public repentance that took place among the missionaries in North Korea in 1904. There was a missionary who repented publicly. God worked through this and soon a vast number of people followed suit and repented of their sins publicly. Not long after that a revival occurred. It was called the Pyongyang Revival.

Revivals begin with repentance. Repentance allows God to work in our hearts to fundamentally change us from the inside out. When God convicts us to repent then there is a time of refreshing from the Lord. Our lives are changed.

I can see here that God works through one person to bring repentance. The leaders saw Ezra weeping and repenting for the sins of his people. God worked through the very visible repentance of Ezra to move the hearts of the leaders. During the Pyongyang Revival, all it took is one missionary repenting publicly. God can accomplish so much through the sincere faith of even one of his people.

Let’s think about hard it is for the people to repent of their intermarriage with women from other religion. They had loving marriages. They had children. Though the command to send them away seemed very extreme, intermarriage among the pagan peoples was forbidden. Deuteronomy 7:3-4 reads, “You shall not intermarry with them, giving your daughters to their sons or taking their daughters for your sons, 4 for they would turn away your sons from following me, to serve other gods. Then the anger of the Lord would be kindled against you, and he would destroy you quickly.” (ESV).

But it seemed to involve only a small percentage of the families. It only involved 113 of approximately 29,000 families. (Life Application Bible p. 791) But it needed to be dealt with. Ezra saw how devastating intermarriage in the northern Kingdom of Israel was. He did not want this type of compromise to happen with the people of the southern kingdom of Judah.

Part 2. The Fruit Of Repentance (16-17)

Verses 16-17, “Then the returned exiles did so. Ezra the priest selected men, heads of fathers’ houses, according to their fathers’ houses, each of them designated by name. On the first day of the tenth month they sat down to examine the matter; 17 and by the first day of the first month they had come to the end of all the men who had married foreign women.”

The returnees repented of their unfaithfulness and compromised lives. They set a drastic course of action. It seems very extreme to us, but it was a matter of spiritual survival of God’s people at the time.

God worked through Ezra’s life of faith and ministry to save his people. It began by teaching repentance and the obedience that comes from faith and the display of one person’s sincere faith.

I hope and pray that God may work through my life and family in order to be a blessing to the people of this generation. I pray to be such a blessing to the congregation at KBC and the missionaries in the North.

It is not easy to take the role that Ezra took. It is never easy to publicly confess sin. It is easy to agree with God that we are sinners and fall short of his holy standard. But what is not easy here is to repent with a sincere attempt and a plan to stop sinning. And not only that, to encourage others to do the same. This is very hard. May God grant all of us to live a life of humble repentance that blesses others.

It is also not easy to preach repentance. Our pastor is preaching on Nehemiah 9-10. It is a very hard chapter. He preached about sincere repentance and encouraged us to talk about repentance in the home groups. Though it was a hard message, some people were responding with some loud “Amen” s. We all need to hear messages about sincere repentance now and then.

Part 3: Those Guilty of Intermarriage (18-44)

Verses 18-44, “18 Now there were found some of the sons of the priests who had married foreign women: Maaseiah, Eliezer, Jarib, and Gedaliah, some of the sons of Jeshua the son of Jozadak and his brothers. 19 They pledged themselves to put away their wives, and their guilt offering was a ram of the flock for their guilt. 20 Of the sons of Immer: Hanani and Zebadiah. 21 Of the sons of Harim: Maaseiah, Elijah, Shemaiah, Jehiel, and Uzziah. 22 Of the sons of Pashhur: Elioenai, Maaseiah, Ishmael, Nethanel, Jozabad, and Elasah.

23 Of the Levites: Jozabad, Shimei, Kelaiah (that is, Kelita), Pethahiah, Judah, and Eliezer. 24 Of the singers: Eliashib. Of the gatekeepers: Shallum, Telem, and Uri.

25 And of Israel: of the sons of Parosh: Ramiah, Izziah, Malchijah, Mijamin, Eleazar, Hashabiah,[e] and Benaiah. 26 Of the sons of Elam: Mattaniah, Zechariah, Jehiel, Abdi, Jeremoth, and Elijah. 27 Of the sons of Zattu: Elioenai, Eliashib, Mattaniah, Jeremoth, Zabad, and Aziza. 28 Of the sons of Bebai were Jehohanan, Hananiah, Zabbai, and Athlai. 29 Of the sons of Bani were Meshullam, Malluch, Adaiah, Jashub, Sheal, and Jeremoth. 30 Of the sons of Pahath-moab: Adna, Chelal, Benaiah, Maaseiah, Mattaniah, Bezalel, Binnui, and Manasseh. 31 Of the sons of Harim: Eliezer, Isshijah, Malchijah, Shemaiah, Shimeon, 32 Benjamin, Malluch, and Shemariah. 33 Of the sons of Hashum: Mattenai, Mattattah, Zabad, Eliphelet, Jeremai, Manasseh, and Shimei. 34 Of the sons of Bani: Maadai, Amram, Uel, 35 Benaiah, Bedeiah, Cheluhi, 36 Vaniah, Meremoth, Eliashib, 37 Mattaniah, Mattenai, Jaasu. 38 Of the sons of Binnui:[f] Shimei, 39 Shelemiah, Nathan, Adaiah, 40 Machnadebai, Shashai, Sharai, 41 Azarel, Shelemiah, Shemariah, 42 Shallum, Amariah, and Joseph. 43 Of the sons of Nebo: Jeiel, Mattithiah, Zabad, Zebina, Jaddai, Joel, and Benaiah. 44 All these had married foreign women, and some of the women had even borne children.

So many men had married foreign women, and some of the women had even borne children. They were even the spiritual leaders, the Levites, the singers, the gatekeepers. They repented of their sins and pledged themselves to put away their wives, and their guilt offering was a ram of the flock for their guilt. They were willing to take drastic measures in order to make things right with God and engage themselves to live as a people of God.

Can you imagine if this marriage compromise happened today in the church? What if the leaders of the church, the people who are ministering to those who attend, can you imagine if the pastor married a Muslim lady? What if the greeter at the door married a Hindu lady? What if the praise band were dating and marrying women of the Buddhist faith? It would be just plain old wrong. It would be shocking.

We shouldn’t wait until there are shocking sins in our congregation. We need to have a spirit of repentance to deal with the smaller sins that are creeping into our hearts and lives. Jesus, by his word and Spirit will let us know and teach us how to repent of them.

I was thinking about missionaries that go into areas where there is polygamy. What does one do with converts? Do they need to send away a couple wives and their kids? What if the wives could not survive on their own? They might have to provide for their needs and their kid’s needs, while choosing to live with their first wife. What about converts or Christians who are married to non-Christian spouses? Surely, they should not divorce. As you can see that things get very complicated. Pastors need wisdom from Christ.

Prayer: Lord, help us to realize that we can’t compromise with sin and show us where we need to repent. Help me to teach your word faithfully, as Ezra did.

One Word: There is hope if we repent

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