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  • Writer's pictureRev. Kim Taylor

Pastor's Ponderings: Old Testament bible study on Ezra 10:6-44 (April 12, 2024)

April 12, 2024:  Friday Bible Study on the Old Testament book of Ezra 10:6-44

My dear friends in Christ,

This has been a very busy family care week at home, as Melody continues recovery from her knee replacement surgery a week ago. She is doing well, but I have had too many nights of little sleep. Wednesday night was one of those. After a night of terrible acid reflux, I got about 2 hours of sleep. Yesterday was a tough day with no time for catching up with naps. Needless to say, Ezra did not get written yesterday. Please accept my apologies for the delay.

a man writing in a book studying with another man
Ezra bible study

Well, we have done it. We have come to the end of the OT book of Ezra, and Ezra's action which calls upon the Judahite people to unbind themselves from the non-Jewish people with whom they have become immersed in their everyday lives. We should really note that in this reading from the prophet, there appears to be no willingness on the part of the interlopers to convert to the religion of the Jews. That is still a big problem here, and like those other nations, the intermixing of the peoples and cultures and religions often resulted in the diminishment of God's elect, and their faithfulness to the Old Covenant with God. Out of his prayer, Ezra comes to the people to get a commitment to separate themselves in every way from the foreigners in their land. It is never shown that these soon to be severed relationships were unhappy, or lacked love, or any of the things which we might think would be a good reason to cause this severance. We discover that even the leaders of the exiles, who were heirs of those who originally came from Persia, were in these relationships of marriage, business, and more. They too must send those with whom they have been involved. I think we might be afraid to say that many of these relationships were filled with love, however, they also played a role in the destruction of the faithfulness to YHWH of the exiles and their heirs. In fact, the delays in the redevelopment of Jerusalem and the Temple may well have been based on the comfortable settling of the original exiles. After all, they had been in exile for many years, so to come to Palestine once again after some separation of years, meant that their faith may not have been the strongest to begin with.  However, they were called to confess their intermarriage sin, and the ways in which their relationships may have harmed those who were faithful to YHWH. Ezra exposes them all in this listing of those who will act to remain faithful by sending away spouses and children and separating themselves from business concerns in which they have become involved, and those who will not! As we close out Ezra, and get ready to start Nehemiah, we know about these kinds of things. They happen in congregations too. When our Pastor comes to us as God's congregation to inform us that we have been walking on the wrong path of faith, perhaps our true faith has weakened, or we are certain in our opposition that we are the right ones, what happens?  Of course, some members are still faithful in the congregation, and confess their brokenness, while others get angry, and move on to a new worship setting taking with them the very same issues which they have felt to be OK, and not a matter of confession and contrition.  Here at this close to the book of Ezra we see why it sometimes becomes necessary to move boldly for the solidity of faith which has always carried the congregation, and to leave behind some things that have held the congregation back in their relationship with God. After 33 years at American, and quickly approaching my 40th anniversary of ordination, I still know that the Light and Truth of God in Jesus Christ continues to call me to speak God's truth and to continue on as God guides me through His Son.

Happy Easter! Pastor Kim


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