In our study of Ezra chapter nine, we will look at the importance of obeying God's word in marriage. We will look at the effects of disregarding God's instructions on marriage and the importance of taking His word seriously.
"After these things had been done, the leaders came to me and said, 'The people of Israel, including the priests and the Levites, have not kept themselves separate from the neighboring peoples with their detestable practices, like those of the Canaanites, Hittites, Perizzites, Jebusites, Ammonites, Moabites, Egyptians and Amorites. They have taken some of their daughters as wives for themselves and their sons, and have mingled the holy race with the peoples around them. And the leaders and officials have led the way in this unfaithfulness.'" NIV translation
At the end of chapter eight, we saw all of Israel offering sacrifices in worship of God. Now, we see that they had been living in disobedience to God's instructions regarding marriage. In Deuteronomy 7:4, God had instructed them to drive out the people living in Canaan and to remain separate from them. They were even told that it was for their own good as the Canaanite women would lead the men to worship other gods (commit idolatry). Solomon married one of these women and the result was the division of the kingdom. Now, all of the people (even the priests and servants of God) had disregarded the instructions of God. The same type of thing is happening even more today as we even have people marrying others of the same sex even though God says it is wrong. It is sanctioned by governments and even religious leaders are joining in but it directly contradicts the words of God. Israel did not take His words seriously and so were judged for it. Do we think that we are any different as a nation or world?
"When I heard this, I tore my tunic and cloak, pulled hair from my head and beard and sat down appalled. Then everyone who trembled at the words of the God of Israel gathered around me because of this unfaithfulness of the exiles. And I sat there appalled until the evening sacrifice." NIV translation
Ezra's reaction to this was complete amazement. The people had been sent into captivity and had been spared and allowed to come back to Jerusalem and yet they ignored the words of God. His reaction was to immediately go into a state of mourning over the condition of the people. We must ask ourselves if the condition of the world around us bothers us enough to do the same thing or do we simply go with the flow?