December 14, Reading 1 – Ezra 10

Reading

Audio, Visual

SAA Notes

The Bible tells us what people did do, as well as what they should do. Ezra and the majority of people went further than the Mosaic Law. The Apostle Paul tells believers not to divorce their unbelieving spouses because they are not believers. 1 Corinthians 7:14

SJA Notes

Stuart Snr’s words hit the mark so well – God’s word tells us what people do, not just what they should do.

We have seens previously that having wives from non-Israelite peoples are not a stoppage to God’s grace. We have Ruth and Rahab and no doubt many others, who gave up their idolatry and served the living God, became wives, and those two were part of the lineage of Jesus!

The reason why there was a ban on marriage to foreign women was faithfulness.

Seems like it’s the same as today.

God is concerned about true religion, today as He was back in Ezra’s day.

Remaining singular in our faithfulness (reflecting and founded and only in His faithfulness) to Him.

Because how easy is it to get distracted! How easy is it for the world to slip in (there’s some wonderful Jungle Doctor stories that illustrate this) and pull us away from Him!

While we have no power to save ourselves, once saved we are called to wisdom. Proverbs 3 speaks powerfully to this. God’s wisdom, not our own. But we are to seek it, we are to choose it.

“My son, do not forget my teaching, but let your heart keep my commandments,”

December 13, Reading 1 – Ezra 9

Reading

Audio, Visual

SAA Notes

The danger of idolatry was very strong. An unequal yoke makes life very difficult and laborious for a believer. It is the parents who are arranging such marriages for reasons of wealth and commerce. This was an age where young people minded what their parents thought and wanted.

SJA Notes

There is a lot in this reading!

Ezra’s penitence, which is a great pattern for us in our prayer life. David prays such as this in Psalm 51 (an individual perspective). Psalm 85 cries out from another perspective again, that of calling on the Lord’s faithfulness.

A framework for understanding slavery (v9), both as we are in our sin before salvation, and actual slavery under human masters. Paul expands on this in Ephesians 6.

And there is the idea of purity, of yoking ourselves with unbelievers.

In this time, it was the physical mixing with people who worshipped other gods (v2).

For us, it is similar, the yoking with unbelievers that Paul expands on in 2 Corinthians 6 v14-18.

What partnership has righteouness with lawlessness!

Ezra’s response in v3 and onwards is really important for us to consider. This is not something to be on the fence about, this is not something to shrug and think it’ll work out okay.

Sometimes we need a shock like this. “Oh 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.” v6

This is a hard word. But important. May the Lord aright our minds and hearts as we read and dwell and pray on His word here in Ezra.

December 12, Reading 1 – Ezra 8

Reading

Audio, Visual

SAA Notes

One of God’s blessings to a church is people of integrity who can handle the temporal affairs of the church well. Let us thank God for His blessings.

SJA Notes

Here we step into Ezra’s point of view, seeing how things were worked out following the decree/edict from Artaxerxes in ch 7.

We see Exra displaying wisdom and forsight, and importantly faithfulness. He commits their travel/journey to the Lord, humbly. He beseeches (really gut/heart asking, pleading) the Lord for safety. And he entrusts to the priests the wealth that Artaxerxes had given to them.

“The hand of our God was on us, and he delivered us from the hand of the enemy …” v31

These are comforting words for us!

As we reflect God’s faithfulness in our own words, thoughts and deeds, so He continues to be faithful!

Praise God for His faithfulness to us His people, generation through generation.