Ezra 9:1-5


Verse 1, 2, Now when these things were done, the princes came to me, saying, The people of Israel, and the priests, and the Levites, have not separated themselves from the people of the lands, doing according to their abominations, even of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Jebusites, the Ammonites, the Moabites, the Egyptians, and the Amorites. {2} For they have taken of their daughters for themselves, and for their sons: so that the holy seed have mingled themselves with the people of those lands: yea, the hand of the princes and rulers hath been chief in this trespass.

I.    Ezra at first saw nothing wrong.

A.  It may have been that he observed the temple worship and the families coming and going in their worship, but did not understand that some Jews had disobeyed the commandment of God in marrying heathens.

B.   Ezra had to be told what was going on.

1.   It is very good that the princes knew Ezra had to be told.

2.   Ezra will find out eventually, but it is much better when he is informed immediately.

3.   This information shows that the people do want something to be done about the wickedness, they don't want to cover it up.

C.   When a new pastor comes into a church, he ought to be informed of what is going on.

1.   I know the repercussions personally, for I went to a church that had a split in it, but I couldn't see it, for the people seemed to be united.

2.   Nobody told me what was going on.

3.   Needless to say, my ministry there was limited, both in scope and length.

4.   If I had known what was going on in that particular church, I would never had accepted the pastorate.


II.   A heathen is a non-believer.

A.  They do have their religion.

B.   But it is a false religion. 


III. Who was it that had sinned?

A.  The people, the priests, and the Levites.

B.   The order is from the common people to the leaders.

1.   I don't know if this is the order of the sin.

2.   It may have been that the common people began to mix and mingle with the heathen, then the priests begin to follow their example (instead of setting the example), then the Levites began to follow the example of the priests.

C.   I believe this has happened in our nation today.

1.   Divorce, at one time, was not a very common occurrence.

2.   Then divorce became "normal" among the common church membership.

3.   Preachers failed to preach against divorce and remarriage because it offended some of their congregation.

4.   Since the rest of the congregation didn't hear about the sin of divorce and remarriage, they begin to believe there was nothing wrong with it, so they divorced and remarried also.

5.   Preachers are people to, so when some of them began to have marriage problems, they also divorced.

6.   Their congregations felt sympathy for them, because they understood the trauma of divorce.

7.   Preachers then began to preach that there is nothing wrong with divorce and remarriage, under certain circumstances.

8.   They began to twist scriptures to suit their own situation.

9.   For example, one of the qualifications of a minister is that he be the husband of one wife.

10.  This passage actually means that a minister is not to commit polygamy (having more than one wife/husband).

11.  Some ministers have changed this verse from its proper meaning of maintaining a high moral and ethical standard for ministers into meaning that it is okay for a minister to divorce (the new meaning of divorce -- they believe divorce dissolves a marriage before God) and marry another, just as long as he isn't married (the new meaning of married -- in a condition of living with) more than one woman at a time.

D.  The judgment of God upon sin.

1.   This single fact has caused much trouble in religion, just as it caused much trouble in Ezra's day.

2.   Here is a perfect example of the tail wagging the dog.  (The ministry following the congregation instead of setting the example before the congregation.)

3.   It is also a perfect of the ministry following the letter of the law (like the Pharisees) instead of following the spirit of the law.

4.   The judgment of God will fall on Israel because of this abomination.


IV. What was their sin?

A.  They had not separated themselves from the people of the land.

1.   This is not talking about shunning the people of the land like the Pharisees shunned the wounded man in the story of the Good Samaritan, Luke 10:25-37.

2.   It is talking about separating themselves from their sin, while being friends with them so they can be won to the Lord.

B.   They had committed the abominations of the heathen.

1.   I do not believe they were completely involved in worshipping idols and false gods, but they were on the verge of falling into that trap.

2.   When their sin is brought to their attention, they immediately join together in order to do something about it.

3.   They are willing to put aside their wives and children to obey God.

C.   This is a very difficult thing to do, but they will do it and they will do it willingly.

1.   They do it, however, only after it is mentioned.

2.   They do not see their sin themselves.

3.   Wouldn't it be good if we could see our sin without somebody point it out to us?

4.   This is one reason God send preachers.

D.  The nations they intermarry with.

1.   Deut. 7:1-8 - The seven nations God told them not to intermarry with.

2.   Egypt is added, not to add to scripture, but to add emphasis to their great sin.


V.  Interfaith marriage is an abomination to God.

A.  Most people do not consider this a sin today, but God still does.

1.   The fathers had first taken the heathen for themselves, then the sons had followed in their footsteps.

2.   It must be noted that there is nothing wrong with marrying a "heathen" who has converted to true religion.

a.   Ruth is a Moabite who converted to the Jewish religion.  Neither Boaz nor Ruth was rebuked for marrying, but richly blessed in that they were included in the Christ line.

b.   Rahab the harlot was likewise converted to the Jewish religion, married Salmon, (Boaz's father), and included in the Christ line.

c.   There are many other examples of heathens being converted to God, joining Israel, and their families remaining with Israel from then on.

3.   The sin is when marriage is before conversion to true religion.

B.   II Cor. 6:14-18 commands us not to be joined together with unbelievers.

1.   This includes not only marriage, but business ventures as well.

a.   It is necessary to have business dealings with heathens, but we don't have to be in a business partnership with them.

b.   Many of us work for heathens, depending on them for the money to supply for our families.

c.   This doesn't mean we have joined with them in their abominations.

d.   The sin is when the employee or partner does things against God in order to maintain the business relationship.

2.   It is normal and natural to have these people as friends so they can see the true religion in our lives.

3.   But we do need to be careful lest we be converted to their religion, or that we have more heathens as friends than Christians.


VI. It was common for the heathen to marry anybody they saw and desired.

A.  This had become common for God's children.

B.   Genesis 6 records that interfaith marriage was a great abomination in that day, causing God to destroy the world with water.

C.   God put Israel into captivity partly because of interfaith marriage.

D.  God will not let people today get away with this abomination.


VII.      It is very sad when leaders lead people wrong.

A.  This sin seems to be more common among the princes and rulers.

1.   Ezra 10:7,8 - The command to gather in Jerusalem in three days to settle this issue goes forth to all Israel, not just to the princes and rulers.

2.   Ezra 10:12 - The congregation answered Ezra that they would obey the commands of God.  Nothing is said about the princes and rulers saying they would obey this command.

3.   These scriptures lead me to believe that the common people sinned more in interfaith marriage than the princes and rulers.

B.   If the sin is not more common, then the results of their wickedness is farther reaching.

1.   The princes and rulers set the standard of conduct for the common people.

2.   When they sin, it is much more grievous, because of their influence over so many people.


Verse 3, And when I heard this thing, I rent my garment and my mantle, and plucked off the hair of my head and of my beard, and sat down astonied.

I.    These actions show the great anguish of Ezra.

A.  He didn't expect to find this kind of wickedness in the holy city of Jerusalem.

1.   He expected to find God's people understanding why they went into captivity in the first place, and avoiding those sins at all cost.

2.   Instead he finds them involved in the very things that caused them to go into captivity.

B.   Ezra did five things that showed his anguish when he heard about the interfaith marriage.

1.   He rent (tore) his garment.

2.   He rent (tore) his mantle.

3.   He plucked off the hair of his head.

4.   He plucked off the hair of his beard.

5.   He sat down astonied (astounded, flabbergasted).

C.   It is a great anguish to us when we discover great wickedness in a holy place.

1.   A church building is supposed to be dedicated to the worship of God.

2.   We expect to find holy people doing holy things in the church building.

3.   When we find wickedness and sin in that place, it is a great anguish to us.

4.   Everybody expects a church, and "Christians", to not have any trouble with smoking, drinking, illicit sex, and other forms of wickedness.

5.   When these things are discovered, there is additional trauma because of the source of the wickedness.


II.   It is very interesting to notice the different reactions of different people to similar situations.

A.  Ezra caused personal injury to himself.

1.   He pulled out his own hair.

2.   He plucked off his own beard.

B.   Nehemiah 13:25.

1.   Nehemiah contented with them.

2.   He cursed them.

3.   He hit certain of them.

4.   He pulled off their hair.

5.   He made them swear they would do right.

C.   Pastors are also different.

1.   They all react different to similar situations.

2.   Once a church member thought all preachers wives would like a certain kind of potato because he knew a preachers wife who liked that kind of potato.

3.   Don't ever be guilty of judging the qualifications of a pastor according to his personality.

4.   God made that man have that kind of personality and God will use that man's personality to pastor the kind of people that need that personality.

D.  Churches are all different.

1.   Each church, like individual people, have distinct personalities.

2.   Each church body, as an individual church body, will react differently to similar situations.

3.   It is the responsibility of the pastor to understand this fact, and treat each church accordingly.

4.   May pastors not be guilty of judging all churches by the churches he has dealt with in the past.


Verse 4, Then were assembled unto me every one that trembled at the words of the God of Israel, because of the transgression of those that had been carried away; and I sat astonied until the evening sacrifice.

I.    They were assembled around Ezra.

A.  This would give him some strength.

1.   It also showed these people had compassion to Ezra, and against sin.

2.   There is no record of what these people said or did.

3.   Maybe they did nothing but be there.

4.   That is a great comfort to Ezra.

B.   There was no call for anybody to help Ezra.

1.   Those that feared God would naturally go to Ezra for he is on the side of God.

2.   This doesn't mean Ezra is against those that sinned.  He is against their sin.


II.   Those that assembled were those that feared God.

A.  Those that didn't assemble themselves didn't fear God, or the consequences of their actions on future generations.

1.   In every congregation, nation, and gathering, there are those that fear God and those that don't fear God.

2.   We must not be discouraged because we see people that don't follow the clear commandments of God.

3.   Those commandments that seem very clear to us, may not be clear at all to those people.

B.   It may have been that some of those that assembled were innocent of this sin and some were guilty of this sin. 

C.   Carried away - in this sin of interfaith marriage.


III. Ezra would make no special sacrifice.

A.  He is so distraught as this news that he cannot regain his composure sufficiently to make a special sacrifice.

B.   It is at the time of the evening sacrifice, when his duties toward God return him to his senses that he realizes he must approach God.  He knows that God knows all about this gross sin.

C.   There is no need to offer a special sacrifice because this sin has been going on for some time.


IV. This chapter all takes place in one day.

A.  Ezra first hears about this gross sin.

1.   He goes through a great grieving.

2.   The people that fear God voluntarily gather around Ezra.

B.   Ezra offers the evening sacrifice of prayer and worship to God.


Verse 5, And at the evening sacrifice I arose up from my heaviness; and having rent my garment and my mantle, I fell upon my knees, and spread out my hands unto the LORD my God,

I.    There is no record that Ezra gave a sacrifice.

A.  It is not really necessary.

1.   There have already been many evening sacrifices given, yet the people continued in their sin.

2.   The sacrifices of God are not the blood of bulls and goats, but a contrite and broken heart, Ps. 51:17.

3.   Let us not be guilty of looking at the "form", and never seeing the condition of the heart.

B.   His heaviness didn't prevent him from offering a sacrifice.

1.   Some people have heaviness because of things that go wrong, and they don't worship God, or ask God to help them show His grace during the trial.

2.   We must always understand that there is a way to glorify God, and find deliverance from sin.


II.   Ezra is helpless before God.

A.  He has already shown his grief before God and the people by tearing his garment and mantle.

1.   Now he "falls" upon his knees.

2.   He is without strength to stand before God.

a.   Zech. 14:12 - These rebels stand upon their feet while they rebel against God.

b.   Phil. 2:10 - There is coming a day when every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess that Jesus is the Christ, the son of the living God.

B.   He spread out his hands before God.

1.   This is a symbol of openness to God, hiding nothing about their sinfulness.

2.   II Chron. 32:20 - King Hezekiah prayed and cried to heaven, and God delivered Judah.

3.   II Kings 19:14 - King Hezekiah spread out Rabshakeh's letter before the Lord, the Lord heard Hezekiah's prayer and delivered Judah from him.