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Ezra 9: Get Rid of Sin

This might not be the happiest post that I have ever written, but Ezra 9 is not necessarily a happy chapter.

Ezr 9:1  Now when these things were done, the princes came to me, saying, The people of Israel, and the priests, and the Levites, have not separated themselves from the people of the lands, doing according to their abominations, even of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Jebusites, the Ammonites, the Moabites, the Egyptians, and the Amorites.

Ezr 9:2  For they have taken of their daughters for themselves, and for their sons: so that the holy seed have mingled themselves with the people of those lands: yea, the hand of the princes and rulers hath been chief in this trespass.

Remember, this is something that the Israelites were never supposed to be doing. Even from way back in Joshua, they were not supposed to be taking on cultural practices from the other people around them. They were not supposed to get married to them, and they were not supposed to do what they did.

Nevertheless, here we are in the later time in history, and this was happening again. The people of Israel were giving into sin once again.

Ezra got really upset about that.

Ezr 9:6  And said, O my God, I am ashamed and blush to lift up my face to thee, my God: for our iniquities are increased over our head, and our trespass is grown up unto the heavens.

He even said that he was ashamed of all of these problems. He was morally upset by the sin that he saw around him.

Sometimes I wonder if we are losing that today. Sometimes I wonder if we just kind of sweep sin under the rug. We get comfortable and we figure that is not such a big deal. So what if it was just a little sin? It doesn’t matter that much. It was just a small lie that saved me a lot of trouble. There’s no big deal with that.

Do you see what I’m getting at here? Ezra got visibly upset that the people were living in a sinful lifestyle. He couldn’t tolerate sin because God cannot tolerate sin. I think that we have lost some of that repulsion. I don’t really know why, and I don’t really know how to fix it, but I think that we need to think about problems in our lives. Sin is not acceptable to God, so it should not be acceptable to us.

Obviously, we mess up every now and then and need forgiveness. I don’t want to discount that whatsoever. Jesus died to make that possible for us, but that doesn’t mean that we can just do whatever we want.

Heb 12:1  Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,

We need to lay aside sin rather than embrace it.


2 Chronicles 36: Rejecting the Cure

Judah really messed everything up. After the death of Josiah in the previous chapter, we see several kings in 2 Chronicles 36 that all decided to move away from God. They did not quietly move away though. When God tried to bring them back, they simply would not listen and were awfully arrogant.

2Ch 36:15  And the LORD God of their fathers sent to them by his messengers, rising up betimes, and sending; because he had compassion on his people, and on his dwelling place:

2Ch 36:16  But they mocked the messengers of God, and despised his words, and misused his prophets, until the wrath of the LORD arose against his people, till there was no remedy.

Earlier in this chapter, we hear about Jeremiah trying to help the people, but they didn’t want to listen to him, and it seems that he wasn’t the only messenger. When the people of God told them what they needed to do to straighten everything out, they simply laughed at them and apparently threatened physical harm.

I know that with this type of chapter I have to wonder what was wrong with the people of Judah. They must have realized that their country was going downhill. It wasn’t hard to tell that they were being overrun by rival nations. They must have recognized the symptoms of their disbelief.

However, even when people came with an idea of how to make everything better (get right with God), they didn’t even want to give it a try. They simply mocked the people who brought the medicine to cure the symptoms.

You can see something like this today. Christianity is certainly not as popular as it once was, and people often times make disrespectful attacks on the faith. Some of us who still believe might feel like Jeremiah at times. We keep speaking the truth, but people just don’t want to hear it.

Nevertheless, we need to persevere. Jesus himself predicted that the world would hate His message, so it really shouldn’t be surprising when we encounter opposition. Our job is to be faithful and continue to fight the good fight.

1 Samuel 8: When People Don’t Listen

1 Samuel 8 signifies a major turning point in the history of Israel. Samuel himself was old, so he made his sons the next judges over Israel. However, it did not work out too well.

1Sa 8:3  And his sons walked not in his ways, but turned aside after lucre, and took bribes, and perverted judgment.

The children of Israel were obviously upset, and I cannot say that I blame them. After all, nobody likes bad judges who do not administer the law correctly. As a result, a bunch of the elders got together and came to Samuel with a request.

1Sa 8:5  And said unto him, Behold, thou art old, and thy sons walk not in thy ways: now make us a king to judge us like all the nations.

Samuel was unhappy about this, so he prayed to God. I think that God’s response is very important for all of us today.

1Sa 8:7  And the LORD said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them.

I am not going to make excuses for many churches today. Many churches have wandered away from God, and because of that, many people have said that Christianity itself should be thrown out.

That is exactly what is happening here.

Because of human errors, people immediately attribute that to God. They say that there is no way that God can be real because His people are such a poor reflection of Him.

As Christians, we need to understand that the God has a perfect plan. His perfection is reaffirmed several times throughout the Bible which Christians need to take as fact.

We also need to realize that humans are by nature sinful beings. I don’t think it takes an awful lot of thought to realize that humanity has done a lot of awful things.

Even Christians do bad things. Becoming a Christian does not mean that we are all of a sudden perfect. It means that we are working to become more like Jesus. We can never reach perfection, but we can at least become better mirrors to reflect the glory of God.

A lot of people don’t realize this and all of a sudden turn on God because there are some evil people here on earth. It is probably one of the most important reasons that people turn away from God. It is not because of Him, but it is because of His people.

We obviously have an obligation to be the light of the world, but these critics also need to realize that the essence of Christianity is not watching what other people here on earth do. Christianity teaches that people will do bad things. Everything comes back to your personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

Leviticus 18: Cultural Conflict and Christianity

It is pretty typical for Christians to talk about cultural pressure at least in Vermont where I am from. Certainly, popular culture and Christianity don’t always agree on a lot of issues, but this problem is really nothing new. In Leviticus 18, God tells the Israelites what they need to do when they enter this type of situation.

Lev 18:1  And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,

Lev 18:2  Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, I am the LORD your God.

Lev 18:3  After the doings of the land of Egypt, wherein ye dwelt, shall ye not do: and after the doings of the land of Canaan, whither I bring you, shall ye not do: neither shall ye walk in their ordinances.

Lev 18:4  Ye shall do my judgments, and keep mine ordinances, to walk therein: I am the LORD your God.

Lev 18:5  Ye shall therefore keep my statutes, and my judgments: which if a man do, he shall live in them: I am the LORD.

I think that that lays it out pretty clearly. No matter what people are doing around us, our highest responsibility is to follow what God says. Of course, that is easy for me to say right now, but it is often harder to express these sometimes unpopular and even contrary opinions.

However, Jesus warned us about this ahead of time, and He realized that it was an inevitable part of Christianity.

Joh 15:18  If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you.

Joh 15:19  If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.

Joh 15:20  Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also.

Joh 15:21  But all these things will they do unto you for my name’s sake, because they know not him that sent me.

Living the life of a Christian is not a popularity contest, and it is obvious that it wasn’t supposed to be. Living the life of a Christian is more about following the truth of God regardless of where it leads you. We all should be willing to make a declaration like Joshua did in one of the more memorable verses in the Bible.

Jos 24:15  And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.