Ezra 8-10, Psalm 48
Though my wife was raised Roman Catholic and I was raised Episcopalian, in reality when we met and were married, we were truly both nonbelievers. I became a believer in Christ a little less than 10 years later, for my wife she accepted Christ as her Lord and Savior around 25 years later. One question on our prenatal forms in our office is the question of religion. Most claim a religion like myself and my wife but in reality have had no real conversion experience. A tremendous number claim two different religions, such as Christian and Jewish, Jewish and Hindu, Christian and Muslim, etc. If I ask if they are practicing, the most common response which is said with a smile is that their children will have the best of both worlds, because they get to celebrate both sets of holidays and enjoy both traditions. I often especially hear how those who are Christian and Jewish get to be bombarded with gifts celebrating both Christmas and Hanukkah. When I ask what the children will be raised, the most common response is, "we will let them decide for themselves, we don't want to force our views on them." Welcome to the current state of agnosticism and atheism we now find ourselves in. These children were raised in nothing and now are nothing before a Holy God. This is why God's ways and the secular reasoning of man's ways are not at all alike. A choice must be made.
Ezra in 9:10-12, restates the commandment from God which states, "And now, O our God, what shall we say after this? For we have forsaken Your commandments, which You commanded by Your servants the prophets, saying, 'The land which you are entering to possess is an unclean land, with the uncleanness of the peoples of the lands, with their abominations which have filled it from one end to another with their impurity. Now therefore, do not give your daughters as wives for their sons, nor take their daughters to your sons;..." We read of what transpired in Ezra 9:1-2, "..."The people of the Israel and the priests and Levites have not separated themselves from the people of the lands, with respect to the abominations of the Canaanites,...For they have taken some of their daughters as wives for themselves and their sons, so that the holy seed is mixed with with the peoples of those lands. Indeed, the hand of the leaders and rulers has been foremost in this trespass." In fact we read this was even the case for the sons of the high priest, Jeshua in Ezra 10:18. This command is carried through into the New Testament when Paul says in 2 Corinthians 6;14-16, "Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God...". Jesus on many occasions states that light and darkness can not exist together.
God in His mercy allowed the Israelites to return to their homeland after 70 years of Babylonian captivity. They didn't earn this, it was pure grace. Yet within 57 years of returning the people were reverting to those same practices which brought God's wrath upon them. We in our own nation are no different. In America, America, we sing, "America, America, God shed His grace on thee." Yet we as a nation have completely lost our way. We are as guilty as the Israelites who were before us. Many claim a religion but don't give God a second thought. Intermarrying is not a problem since it has been practiced by their parents who really don't believe in God, and has passed it down to their children who have moved away from a religious affiliation and now fall under the banner of Agnostic. Though this word means "ignoramus" in Latin, they somehow believe this makes them sound more intelligent and open-minded as they drive their cars with the coexist and tolerance bumper stickers. Israel went through periods of revival as has America. We have fallen so far from our roots. The only hope we as a nation has is revival. To once again confess our sins to Almighty God and receive His mercy and grace which we do not deserve. The Old Testament must never be looked at as ancient history but as absolutely relevant for our current times.
Messages from Pastor Lloyd Pulley: