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©Kris Gerbrandt

Chapter 10:9-19, 44 (ESV)

Posted on October 22, 2023  - By Chris LaBelle  

Chapter 10:9-19, 44 (ESV) - 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. 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. 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.” Then all the assembly answered with a loud voice, “It is so; we must do as you have said. 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. 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.” Only Jonathan the son of Asahel and Jahzeiah the son of Tikvah opposed this, and Meshullam and Shabbethai the Levite supported them.

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; and by the first day of the first month they had come to the end of all the men who had married foreign women. 

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. They pledged themselves to put away their wives, and their guilt offering was a ram of the flock for their guilt.

…All these had married foreign women, and some of the women had even borne children.

Question to consider: Who were the people listed at the close of the book?

Did you ever notice that many of the funeral scenes in movies are portrayed with everyone standing with black umbrellas during the middle of a rainstorm? It is as if the very sky poured out its grief upon the person being put into the ground. Ezra seems to depict a similar scene when many in Israel showed up to confess their sin. The sheer number of people wrapped up in this sin must have been great, for though the heads of the families confessed their sin, they knew that they needed time to confront all of the people engaged in it.

We don’t see the worship of other gods as much of a sin today. Someone’s character is usually judged by how he treats his neighbor, and the commands pertaining to our love of God are dismissed as if we abandoned them years ago. Ezra understood the lengths to which God’s people had fallen and mourned it like a death and cried like the torrent of rain that had come upon the assembly. It was as if Joshua himself had shown up and said, “Now therefore fear the Lord and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness. Put away the gods that your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24:14-15)

The rest of this chapter provided a list of those who remained in their sin despite being given this opportunity to remedy it. I didn’t include all of the names, but among those I included were some sons of Jeshua, son of Jozadak. He was the high priest who had been blessed by God along with Zerubbabel to rebuild the temple. Again, those who were listed were ones who knew they had sinned but refused to repent of it. They chose their families over their God and could no longer be part of the people God had set apart unto Himself. It’s a sad way to end the book, but it shows the lengths God would go to preserve His holy line, for they would be the ones to usher in the Messiah.

Once the Messiah came, He proclaimed, “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person's enemies will be those of his own household. Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” (Matthew 10:34-39)

Those who came to faith in the early church often had to deal with an unbelieving spouse because they got married before they confessed Christ. Paul did not advise them to divorce but to be a witness to their spouse in the hope that they would not have to see their spouse be one day separated from God. For those who had not married, he advised that a believer had no business marrying an unbeliever.


Dear heavenly Father, thank You for giving us opportunities to repent of our sins and be made right with You. Let us not take these opportunities for granted. Please help us to build our families with Christ as our foundation. Amen.