What a mess. That’s the thought I had when I read our passage for today. I’m talking about what Ezra faced as he returned to his homeland. One of the worst problems he encountered was the problem of intermarriage that had become prevalent among God’s people. Over and over God had instructed His people and brought solemn warnings how these relationships with people who did not worship the true God but instead were steeped in idolatry, would erode their love and devotion to Him. This was a big deal. When the family dynamic got thrown out of sync because of mixed leadership and mixed loyalties (worshipping God/worshipping idols), the result was confusion for the children. In light of that I’ll always remember a statement made by Josh McDowell, a well-known apologist. He said that the church was only one generation away from apostacy. That word apostacy is a scary word. It speaks of a situation where therethen is no faith. Think about it this way. You are a person of faith. If you have children and they do not choose faith, their children will most likely follow their lead. Faith then goes away when you go away. Ezra knew what the end result would be for those “mixed marriages.” Many of them would turn away from the faith. So he had to do something and he had to do it quickly.
Ezra 10:10-11 tells us what happened.
You have been unfaithful; you have married foreign women, adding to Israel’s guilt. Now make confession to the Lord, the God of your fathers, and do his will. Separate yourselves from the peoples around you and from your foreign wives.
What they did seems pretty drastic. It illustrates for us how much God wants us to do things the way he has shown us. God went so far as to record for us to read, the names of those men who had stepped off his path and married in rebellion to what God had asked of them. They became a not a biblical Hall of Fame, but instead a biblical Hall of Shame.
It was messy. But you know what? Sin is always messy. Not only does it mess things up, it’s always messy. The pain that these foreign women, some of them with children had to go through because of their husband’s disobedience was absolutely unnecessary. Only God knows what would have happened to His chosen people if they hadn’t repented and changed what they were doing.
How many things in our past can we remember where we set aside God’s way and substituted our way and we ended up in a mess. All I can say is after reading what happened to the people in Ezra’s time, it makes me more than ever not to want to make a mess that is going to need to be cleaned up. I think I’ll choose God’s way from the start.