April 11, 2021
Ezra 10: 1-12
In our lesson, I'm reminded of a song made popular by the late George Benson. It was the song, "Everything Must Change". The first line of the song says, "everything must change, nothing stays the same". And so it is true, that in life, things do change. We may not like change but change will happen.
In our lesson, we find the Priest Ezra, having led the second return from captivity, addressing the people who are heading down another sinful path as did their forefathers. His focus is not only to lead them to a physical return but also to a spiritual return with hearts turned to God that leads to action.
1. THE PROPOSAL (Ezra 10: 1-4)
It is here in this passage that we have a serious concern that some of the men had married pagan women, reproducing children. The people had returned to their evil ways. They had returned after seventy years of exile. Ezra, according to custom, demonstrated expressions of grief and astonishment. His outcry compelled others to join him. They would confess publicly sins they did not commit yet they confessed for the sins of others.
2 THE OATH (vv. 5-6)
It is here that Ezra was now task with leading the remnant of exiles back to the Lord. He made a call to repent, to keep the promise, under the threat punishment. Ezra goes to the room of high priest and resumed fasting and mourning on account of the exile's unfaithfulness.
3 THE PROCLAMATION (vv. 7-8)
The oath has now a broader scope. It leads to other leaders of those gathered. A proclamation was sent that all returned exiled in Judah to come to Jerusalem. Ezra knows that giving up a wife and her children, that some would hesitate. If the men do not keep the law, they will not be permitted to remain under that law. They will be exculled from the community, separated from the congregation as well as any inheritance.
4 THE AFFIRMATION (vv. 9-12)
After three days the people gathered. Ezra confronted their unfaithfullness and called for confession as well as action. It took three months for all marriages to be investigated. Some were found guilty of ungodly marriages, including some priest.
It's difficult to imagine giving up your wife and children to atone for sin., yet this is what was required at this time in our lesson.The law required more than lip service, it required action, it required change, however difficult it may have been.
They had married pagan women which was against God's law. Today, we may not be required to rid our better half, but we maybe required to exclude those things that maybe sinful and against the will of God. We maybe required to make unpopular changes. Change can be difficult as well as unfimilar yet it's often neccessary. Change is much more than simply pledging, promise and perspective, it requires action.
Rev. Johnny H. Eskridge