Read for This Week’s Study: Neh. 13:23-25; Deut. 7:3-4, 2 Cor. 6:14; Ezra 9:1-15, Ezra 10:1-44, 1 Cor. 7:10-17.
Memory Text: “And I said: ‘O my God, I am too ashamed and humiliated to lift up my face to You, my God; for our iniquities have risen higher than our heads, and our guilt has grown up to the heavens’ ” (Ezra 9:6, NKJV).
Ezra and Nehemiah became leaders in communities where intermarriage with non-Israelites had become the norm. Both leaders were strongly concerned about this, as they wanted to lead the nation into a close relationship with God. They were aware of the negative influence that non-believers or idol worshipers could have on the people of Israel, as they had seen the terrible effects throughout history. The Canaanite religions spread throughout Israel until Baal and Asherah were being worshiped on every high hill. Moreover, the influence that pagan spouses had on the Israelite families was detrimental. Balaam advised the Moabites to send their women to the Israelites, sure that the Israelites would turn away from God as they fell for these women. Unfortunately, he was right. Not only do spouses influence each other, but also their children’s faith is impacted.
What will Ezra and Nehemiah do with Israel’s intermarriage situation? Will they let it go or stand up against it? This week we will look at the way the two leaders approached this issue.