Ezra was a righteous man, a man of God, who desired to please the Lord and do His will. Because his heart was toward Yahweh, He used Ezra mightily to accomplish His purpose of rebuilding the temple in the midst of the Jewish people’s exile to Babylon. God shone His favor on Ezra and the exiles who had returned to Jerusalem for this task. Can you imagine the dismay that Ezra felt at learning how so many of the Jewish men had taken foreign wives? Perhaps not, so let’s try to put this into perspective.
Ezra thought he had accomplished his work that the Lord had sent him to do. However, some of the Jewish officials came to him with a shocking allegation. In Ezra 9:1-2, we learn what they revealed:
“The people of Israel and the priests and the Levites have not separated themselves from the peoples of the lands with their abominations…. For they have taken some of their daughters to be wives for themselves and for their sons, so that the holy race has mixed itself with the peoples of the lands. And in this faithlessness the hand of the officials and chief men has been foremost.”
Notice the acknowledgment of the Jews being the holy race. They were the sacred offspring or seed of humanity that God had set apart for His righteous purposes. Those who were intermarrying were polluting the Jewish bloodline once more.
Ezra doubtless reflected back to Genesis 6 with the intermingling of the DNA of the rebellious sons of God with their Nephilim progeny, and God’s subsequent destruction of all mankind except for Noah and his family.
Is it any wonder he tore his garments and fell to his knees in Ezra 9:6?
“… saying: ‘O my God, I am ashamed and blush to lift my face to you, my God, for our iniquities have risen higher than our heads, and our guilt has mounted up to the heavens.'”
God had given the Jews a reprieve from the holy punishment they deserved for their continual apostasy, for the disdain they had shown Him over the years. Now, here they were again going down the same wayward trail.
In his prayer to Yahweh, Ezra laments what the Lord had spoken to the people through the prophets. He repeated this in Ezra 9:11:
“… ‘The land that you are entering, to take possession of it, is a land impure with the impurity of the peoples of the lands, with their abominations that have filled it from end to end with their uncleanness.'”
God had made it clear that the people of the lands were impure and unclean. Their abominations were a stench in God’s nostrils. The very last thing the Jews should have done was to intermingle with them in marriage. In fact, the next verse in Ezra 9:12 records that the prophets had said the Jews were to never seek their peace or prosperity.
In other words, there was to be no compromise with them. The Jewish people were not to unevenly yoke themselves with the other races and tribes who lived in the land.
This situation caused Ezra to assemble all the returned exiles to ferret out exactly who among them had transgressed the will of Yahweh. Sure enough, there were many, and they named them. Recorded in Scripture, there was no escaping that these men had done wrong in the eyes of God. As the last verse in Ezra 10:44 tells us:
“All these had married foreign women, and some of the women had even borne children.”
As a result of this, we will learn in the book of Nehemiah that severe action was taken to right this wrong.
For now, however, let’s consider the situation in the church today. There has been a great falling away within the ranks of Christendom, particularly among mainstream denominations. Because they didn’t adhere to the whole counsel of God, they picked and chose what they liked and discarded what they didn’t. This led to wholesale apostasy.
The vast majority of churches within these wayward denominations have embraced the way of the world.
Here’s a good and true statement:
When you love the world, and the world loves you, you are far from God.
This is what has occurred in their embracing of secular values. They have welcomed LGBT and trans people into their pews and pulpits without any hint that their sin is an abomination to God and they must change. He loves them all, but He will not tolerate continued iniquity.
What began in the mainstream has migrated to the evangelical and Pentecostal communities. At the time of this writing, the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) is facing a crossroads. Many in their ranks have embraced wokeness, social justice, Critical Race Theory, and the Black Lives Matter movement. These are all – I repeat ALL – secular movements that honor man above God.
What will the SBC do? Will they surrender to these cultural icons, or will they reject them as the idolatrous violations of God’s design and purposes that they are? This embrace of the world has infected the SBC and many of its leaders. There are those who are pushing back, but their voices are being drowned out.
Why is this happening? Once more, it goes to the fact that few people today read the Word of God for themselves. If they did, they would know what God intends and would reject that which doesn’t comport with His will. Rather, people listen to their pastors and others on the internet who have deviated from God’s whole counsel. Inevitably when this happens, these kinds of aberrant beliefs creep in; often, they are accompanied by sexual deviancy.
What will result from the SBC schism? It wouldn’t surprise me if they are forced to split like many denominations or churches before them. Those who are faithful to the Lord will likely come to the realization that the SBC as a whole is lost. To remain God’s own, they will have to make their own way in order to faithfully follow Him.
Watching the dissolution of the church in these latter days is a grievous thing. Yet Scripture informs us that it would happen. We’re simply seeing the unfolding of Bible prophecy.
All the signs are converging. We’ve almost reached the end. For those of us remaining faithful to God, let us dig in and persevere. Jesus is coming soon.
Gary W. Ritter is a lay pastor, Bible teacher, and prolific author. His Whirlwind Series comprises three books: Sow the Wind, Reap the Whirlwind, and There Is A Time. These books are contained in the collected volume of the Whirlwind Omnibus. Gary has been given the Christian Redemptive Fiction award for three novels: The Tattooed Cat, Alien Revelation, and for his collaboration with Terry James in writing The Minion Protocols, the third book in James’ Second Coming Chronicles.
Earlier this year Gary released a four-volume set of Awaken Bible Study Notes that comment verse-by-verse through Scripture from a Biblical prophetic lens. He is currently working on a sequel to Alien Revelation and is writing a daily commentary on his reading through the Bible in a year. The intent in all Gary’s writings is to bring a strong Christian witness to what people read. You can reach him at his website:www.GaryRitter.com or his Facebook Author page: https://www.facebook.com/gritter3390.
You can also see his video Bible teachings on his Gary Ritter YouTube channel – look for the fish symbol.