What do you do when you are forced to face a wrong you have done? Do you accept the reprimand thankfully, do you take responsibility, ask forgiveness, and try to rectify the situation? Or do you get angry, place blame elsewhere, or blow it off?
Adam blamed Eve. And for most of us, that is our first inclination, too.
Not so Ezra and the Jews we read about in these chapters. Ezra prayed, and wept, and threw himself down on the ground in front of the temple. He met the truth of sin with agony and sorrow. The Jews followed his example.
With their repentance came drastic action. How do you correct the effects of a grave sin? Do you commit a “lesser” sin to rid yourself of the “greater”?
I’ve read several sources and their’s are varying opinions of the actions taken by the Jews. Some say, “Yes, of course. God commanded they not marry foreign women. Anyway, it was merciful to divorce them. The law provide for stoning them. They got off easy.”
Others say, “No way. God hates divorce. Marriage is forever. Two wrongs don’t make a right.”
Honestly, I think both sides are right to a degree. Which makes this a very confusing passage in my mind. I notice Scripture does not use the words, “God said…” in reference to this drastic action. It seems to come as a response to a great revival, but not a direct order from God.
And I notice that each case was reviewed individually. Each marriage carefully examined before sentencing. I think that might imply there were some foreign wives who abandoned their idols and worshiped God with their husbands. Those marriages may have survived the cut. (purely my opinion)
What is undeniable is the seriousness with which God looks at sin. God inspired Ezra to name names. Every man who had married a foreign wife is listed here at the end of Ezra’s book. Name after name of the guilty is recorded for us to read thousands of years later.
What this Scripture says to me is that first of all, I need to be careful about going off half-cocked following an encounter with God. I want to be led by the Spirit, and not get ahead of what God is doing in my life.
Secondly, I need to take sin as seriously as God does. Sometimes He requires drastic action to purge sin from our lives. But if we never commit the sin in the first place, the drastic acton won’t be necessary.
Remind me of that truth, Dear Lord. Make me so in tune with You that I recognize sin before I commit it, and run! But when I sin and You point it out through Your Word or through the voice of one of Your children, help me to accept it graciously, and repent. Father, if there is drastic measures You need to take to purge sin from my life, do it. But I’m going to need You to help me every inch of the way. I only know I want to be a woman who sees sin as seriously as You do