TEXT: EZRA 9:1-15
This message is particularly intended for the youth, young adults, singles and singles again. There is an apparent weakness of God’s people in the area of romance and marriage. The principle of yoking together believers in marriage with non Christians is recorded in (II Cor.6:16). The meaning of this principle is first found in Deuteronomy 22:10, as an agricultural principle; “Do not plow with an Ox and a donkey together “. In biblical times, a farmer was strongly discouraged from joining an Ox and a donkey at the heads and necks for the purpose of carrying a load. This mix does not work because the ox and the donkey don’t belong together, they don’t move, work and behave the same way. Their temperaments and psychological set up is not the same. To join them together is to hinder the work and harm the two animal.
After the exile, the children of Israel started to marry gentiles, who were idolaters. Israel was on the path to Apostasy. Ezra was not opposed to interracial marriage, but to interfaith marriage. Why are believers tempted to date and marry unbelieving partners ? Why is interfaith marriage discouraged ? How does interfaith marriage hurt and damage couples ?.
Lets learn :-
I. DO NOT REPEAT WHAT YOU WERE FORCED TO ENDURE IN THE PAST. (Ezra 9:5-7)
- Recalling the past was a painful thing for Ezra.
- Ezra empathized with the people of Judah, he was ashamed.
- He says (V.6) “ I am ashamed and disgraced to lift my face to my God” , “I have no face to see you God”
- Daniel confessed to God for the sins of Israel with the word., “We” Ezra used the word “Our” 8 times (V.6-7).
- God commanded the separation for Israel from the nations to be His own. And the separation of the Levites apart from the other Israelites.
- Israel was meant “to be His Own” (Lev.20:24) and the Levites “To be Mine” (Lev.20:26, Numbers 8:14).
- For Israel to give their sons and daughters in marriage to Gentiles was giving away that which was not theirs (I Cor.6:19-20)
- When we give our bodies, the temple of the Holy Spirit to immorality, we are giving that which is not ours.
- However, the command was not meant to exclude foreigners per se, because (Isaiah 56:3) says it. (Ruth & Rahab)
II. DO NOT RUIN WHAT YOU ARE FREE TO ENJOY IN THE PRESENT (Ezra 9:8-9)
- Ezra likened their sweet return to Israel after the exile as brief moment (V.8)
- Their survival in exile was a miracle. Countries have survived defeat and colonialism, but no country can survive exile.
- Surviving colonialism was a breakthrough, but surviving exile was a miracle– It was breakthrough for Israel to return to rebuilt the temple and the walls of Jerusalem.
- The grace of God is sufficient “If what I have done is so bad, how come I am doing so well ?” it is all of grace.
- “If you cannot be thankful for what you have, be thankful for what you have escaped” (V.8,13,14,15)
- The prayer recognized how great a punishment and destruction they had escaped.
- The next time Israel was exiled, it went for 19 centuries (First century, AD.70-1948)
III. DO NOT REGRET WHAT YOU FEAR TO EXPECT IN THE FUTURE (Ezra 9:10-15)
- The history of interfaith marriage is troubled and not optimistic.
- The word intermarry (v.14) or join together is used technically.
- The In-Laws of interfaith marriage Ezra referred to (v.12) are idols, Abominations and Uncleanness.
- If your spouse is not a Christian, you have a tremendous responsibility.
- The first mistake of unequally yoked with non Christian is missing Church altogether, to witness to your spouse and to raise godly children.
- Interfaith marriage is not a mistake of the unbelieving spouse’s but the believing spouse’s weakness.
- A mistake cannot be unwritten but it can be rewritten – Let your mistake work for you like a Gibeonite !!