About Jesus Steve Sweetman
This Chapter - Chapter 9
Prayer About Intermarriage (ch.
9:1 - 15)
After the celebrations of
the last chapter, the leaders that Ezra appointed came to see him with
some very disturbing news. They
told Ezra that the Jews, including the priests and Levites did not
separate themselves from the practices of the pagan community that
surrounded them. Verse 2
gives one example of this, but I’m not sure it’s the only practice
that the Jews didn’t separate themselves from.
The word “practices” is plural, so it appears to me that
there was more practices that the Jews had willfully adopted.
Of course this is the mixture that we see over and over again in
God’s people, whether Jews or Christians.
Allowing the world around us to shape our thinking and practice
is extremely upsetting to God.
Verse 2 states that one
of these practices the Jews had indulged in was the men marrying women
who were not Jews, but were pagans who practiced their pagan religion.
The way the leaders put
this to Ezra was that the leaders led the way in this sinful practice.
This would be doubly upsetting to God.
The leaders who were to lead the people in the right way were
actually leading them astray. These
leaders were no different than the Pharisees of Jesus’ day.
The text says that these
leaders “mingled the holy race with the people around them”.
The KJV uses the word “seed” instead of the word “race”.
The Jews were the race in which Jesus was to be born, and these
people were polluting the race in which their Saviour would be born from.
So when we think of Jesus humbling Himself by coming into the
world as a man and as a servant as Paul puts it in Phil. 2, it’s even
more humbling to know that Jesus entered not only sinful humanity but a
sinful race of people.
In verse 3 we see
Ezra’s response to this disturbing news.
It is clear that when he left
We should have the same
response as Ezra when we see such mixture in the church, but we don’t.
The modern church is just the opposite.
We embrace this mixture as a form of tolerance.
How sad. We are in
the same boat as the Jews In Ezra’s day, but we’re not repenting as
We must remember that
those people who were marrying pagan’s for the most part were the
first, or second generation of Jews that had left
In verse 4 we see that
Ezra sat there, along with a few others “who trembled at the Word of
God”. They sat
in despair until evening. Notice
the word “tremble”. This
is how these people thought and felt about the Word of God.
They certainly did not take God’s word lightly.
In verse 5 we see that
evening has now come. Verse
5 introduces Ezra’s prayer. He falls to his knees with his hands
spread towards His God. The
verse also speaks of his “self-abasement”.
This is what humbling one’s self before the Lord is all about.
Actually the word humble might well be a mild word.
Self-abasement is more like it.
Ezra’s prayer begins
with “O my God”. He
personally acknowledges that God is his God.
The word “O” suggests the deep emotional state he was in.
He continues by saying that he is too ashamed and disgraced
because of the sins of
Ezra uses very
descriptive language to state the severity of Israel’s sin. He says that their
sins are higher than their heads and their guilt reaches the heavens.
He is clearly very serious about this matter of sin.
In verse 7 we note that
Ezra views Israel’s present situation in its historical light.
He says that
It’s interesting to
note how Ezra views the history of Israel.
had been captured, beaten with the sword,
pillaged, and humiliated. Ezra
views this as God’s judgment. Ezra
is not a Deist. He does not
believe that God created Israel
with Abraham and has stepped back and allowed Israel
to evolve as she wishes.
In verse 8 Ezra
prays that God has given the Jews “a brief moment” of grace.
In comparison to the long history of
Also in verse 8 Ezra says
that God gives light to their eyes.
Usually such language in Biblical terms speaks of the light of
understanding. That is,
understanding God‘s word.
Ezra goes on to say that
God has given them “a little relief in their bondage”.
is not the nation they once were. They’re
not even a nation. They are
simply a group of people in
In verse 9 Ezra continues
on in this thought of God being with Israel
in their times of bondage and slavery.
Ezra says they are slaves, yet in this bondage, the king of
At this point in verses10
and 11 Ezra pretty well just shrugs his shoulders.
He says, “what can we say after this?”
In verse 12 we see the
nature of the situation here again.
Jewish sons and daughters were marrying into these pagan
families. Something else
they were doing was to “further” the pagan’s “welfare and
was joining forces with their pagan neighbours in financial ways as well
as marriage. This is all
mixture. This is weakening
and polluting the very nature of who God’s people were to be.
They were to be a separate and distinct people, living a holy
lifestyle as God’s representatives to the rest of the world.
Instead, they became like the world and this representation of
God was lost.
The version of the NIV
I’m am using is the 1984 edition.
The newer editions use the word “treaty” in verse 12. The
implication is that the Jews were signing treaties, or making business
and social agreements with their pagan neighbours.
The result of this was the loss of a whole distinct society of Israel. It’s interesting to note
that in 70 AD, in judgment, God sent the Jews to all corners of the
earth, as to say, “if you want to lose your distinctness, then I’ll
help you go all the way”.
In verse 13 Ezra states
that God’s punishment towards Israel
at this time is not as harsh as it should be.
Their sins deserve greater punishment.
The reason why Ezra is saying this is that God has provided, once
again, a remnant, a fraction of the people, whose hearts were right in
the eyes of God. As I’ve
said before. God always has
a remnant of people that are truly His in every generation.
In verse 14 Ezra asks God
two questions. Simply
stated, Ezra asks God if
Verse 15 ends Ezra’s
prayer. Ezra states the
facts as they are. God is
righteous, and they are complete sinners and cannot stand in the
presence of their God. This
is truly the state of all mankind, not just the Jews in Ezra’s day.
This is what Paul speaks about in the opening chapters of Romans.
He states that both Jew and Gentile are sinners, and that no
flesh can stand in the presence of the Lord.
This is the fundamental truth that leads to repentance.
You must first understand your depraved nature before you can
repent, and before you can fully embrace the saving grace of God.