It’s truly the focus of Ezra, largely so.
For that matter Nehemiah, too. (Of course they are “twin” Books in many ways, one following the other chronologically, books of Biblical history.)
Paul hammered on this topic as well.
As did nearly all the Old Testament Prophets, if not all!
And that is?
The simple fact that the Lord wants His people to be “different” than those around them, those who know not God in all His Beauty!
Actually the Book of Ezra, its greatest hermeneutical (interpretive) issues rest in this area of “separation.” Ezra was so strict as a separatist! Nearly brutally so! (As we shall soon see.)
But today’s Text claims our immediate attention … “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. 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. And when I heard this thing, I rent my garment and my mantle, and plucked off the hair of my head and of my beard, and sat down astonied.” Ezra 9:1-3, amazing!
The verb “separate” is spelled “badal” in Hebrew. It means “to divide, to rip asunder!” (In God’s Eyes “GOOD” is always tarnished by “BAD!” And “PURITY” must always live apart from “FILTH,” lest it be contaminated!)
Hence we now face the “problem” that consumed the rest of the Book of Ezra!
A people back in the “Land” is good.
But a polluted people back in the “Land” is not good!
This “lack of separation” seems to bother no one today, in the 21st century!
Not as much as it “bothered” Ezra, the godly leader. His words … “And when I heard this thing, I rent my garment and my mantle, and plucked off the hair of my head and of my beard, and sat down astonied.” Autobiographical, isn’t it? (By the way, “astonied” means appalled, stunned, amazed!)
Sin dilutes a Christian’s power!
And prayer potential!
And no telling what else!
Paul needs to say something here, which fits Ezra’s situation pretty well. “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?” 2 Corinthians 6:14
Need anything else be said today?
But plenty more tomorrow, as we journey through Ezra’s last two chapters.
— Dr. Mike Bagwell