Saturday, January 27, 2007

I'm No Better Than They Are

We've been studying the OT books of Ezra and Nehemiah in Sunday School the past two months; tomorrow is our last study before moving on to the book of Esther. I was talking with one of our pastors last night about something I found very intersting.

Ezra came to Jerusalem around 458 BC and upon arriving, discovered that the Jews there had taken foreign wives from among the nations living around them. This was in direct violation of God's Law given to them through Moses. (cf Deuteronomy 23:3-6) Calling the Jewish leaders together, Ezra pointed out the violation and encouraged them to "make a covenant with our God to put away all the wives and their children" (Ezra 10:3) according to the Law--which they did.

This was not a racially motivated decision; the Moabites and Ammonites were not worshipers of the One, True God. Consequently, because of the intermarrying, many of the Israelites had been led astray in their worship of Jehovah, the God of Israel. The "fix" was a complete seperation from these people, which it appears the Israelites did.

Fast-forward approximately 25 years. Nehemiah has returned to Jerusalem after serving as governor for 12 years, then returning to Bablyon. Upon arrival, Nehemiah discovers several "lapses in obedience" to the Law, one of which is the intermarrying with foreigners (again)! Ezra's response years before had been one of great distress: When I heard about this matter, I tore my garment and my robe, and pulled some of the hair from my head and my beard, and sat down appalled (Ezra 9:3). Nehemiah, however, responds a little more physically:

I contended with them and cursed them and struck some of them and pulled out their hair, and made them swear by God, "You shall not give your daughters to their sons, nor take of their daughters for your sons or for yourselves. (emphasis mine) --Nehemiah 13:25
In discussing these passages with my pastor, I expressed how I just didn't understand how the Jews could fall right back into sin so quickly. He asked me: "Are there some areas in your life that you have allowed disobedience back in -- just like the Israelites?" I hate to admit it, but I have to answer "yes."

4 comments:

Owasso Bob said...

Keith,

I was catching up on your blog and read about your dad. I'm sorry for you that his health is failing. I know how much you love your parents. We'll be praying for him, your mom and you. Good lesson from Nehemiah! You did know there is a form of idolatry in the NT that differs from the OT version didn't you? Bob

Keith said...

Bob: Thanks for the kind words re: my dad.

Re: idolatry. Are you speaking of Paul's words?: Colossians 3:5 Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry.

Neil said...

I have the same thought process whenever I read through the Old Testament. I start by thinking, "Wow, these Israelites just didn't get it. God told them what to do and they messed it up over and over." Then it hits me: I'm just like them.

Thank God for his patience, mercy and grace!

Keith said...

Amen.
We can be pretty "scurvy" (sp?) some times.