Ezra 10:10–11: “Then Ezra the priest stood up and said to them, ‘You have transgressed and have taken pagan wives, adding to the guilt of Israel. Now therefore, make confession to the LORD God of your fathers, and do His will; separate yourselves from the peoples of the land, and from the pagan wives.'”

July 31st, 2020 by Pastor Ed in devotional

When Ezra arrived in Jerusalem, he discovered that the exiles who had returned years earlier, even some of the priest and Levites, had taken foreign wives, something God had expressly forbidden in Deuteronomy 7:3. Ezra told them that they had to separate themselves from their pagan wives, which is a clearer translation than the NIV, which uses the term foreign. The problem was not a racial issue but a holiness issue. These pagan wives were practicing an idol-worshiping, false religion that God had forbidden. Instead of the Jewish husbands leading their wives into worship of the true God, they were being drawn off by their wives into false worship of other gods. This is the reason the Apostle Paul in the New Testament warned the Corinthians: “Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?” (2 Cor. 6:14).

God doesn’t mean for believers to end all association with unbelievers. We are meant to be in their lives, and herein lies the challenge, how to be a friend of sinners and at the same time remain separate from sinners. In fact, the reason God saves believers and leaves them on earth is so that they can be salt and light in a dark world, to be witnesses to unbelievers. It is a matter of relationships. God is concerned about partnerships that determine association. For example, a pig has a pig’s nature, so it associates with other pigs in the mud hole. In the same respect a sheep has a sheep’s nature, and it munches grass with the flock in the pasture. It is true that pigs can live on pasture, but they’re much happier rooting around in gushy mud. Another example can be found in what happens when earthquakes occur. Two plates on a fault line suddenly shift against each other, violently lurching in opposite directions. The result in populated areas is death and ruin. The destruction unleashed by 2 tectonic plates depicts what happens when a believer bonds unequally with a non-believer. Two people connected to each other but going in different directions can only lead to trouble.

“LORD, keep us focused on influencing others toward good today, and help us not to become unequally yoked with unbelievers who would pull us away from You.”