‘Blind and deaf to the glory and voice of God’ (Psalm 19:1-14)

There are three vioices in Psalm 19:1-14. The first voice is the voice of creation. Like other parts of the Bible, Psalm 19 teaches that all that we see in the created order testifies to the truth that God exists and that by all that He has made, He has spoken to all mankind about His existence. This is true for people all over the world. No-one can say they did not know that God existed. The second voice in the Psalm is the voice of God’s Word. While God’s voice through creation can be ignored or misinterpreted, He has also spoken to us through His Word, which, for the writer of the Psalm, were the books of God’s law which he treasured above everything. The third voice in the Psalm is the voice of God’s servant, who asked God to cleanse his heart from hidden sins and faults. The one who loves God over all things will want to be pure in order to serve Him and be ready to obey Him from the heart.

‘The sin of the unequally yoked’ (part 2) (Ezra 10:1-44)

After Ezra had wept and prayed about the sin of the people of God in taking themselves foreign wives, a deep sense of conviction followed and the leaders of the people urged Ezra to take action. In Ezra 10:1-44, we not only learn the names of the men who took foreign wives, but also the way in which this matter was to be dealt with as the wives, and in some cases their children, were sent away. While this sounds harsh to modern ears, Ezra’s goal had been to establish a sense of the need for personal and national holiness. The Messiah who was still to come, would not be born from a ‘mixed- marriage’. At the end of the book the reader will realise that the promised kingdom had still not arrived. And when the King in that kingdom did come (Jesus), he did not send people away because they were law-breakers but gathered them in because of grace.

‘The sin of the unequally yoked (part 1)’ (Ezra 9:1-15)

When Ezra finally returned to Jerusalem with the ‘second wave’ of returning exiles with him, he soon found that all was not well in the beloved capital. Ezra 9:1-15 tells us that news came to him from the mouths of the officials of the people that many of the returned exiles had married people of the surrounding nations. This was no small thing to have happened, but was serious. God had forbidden His people from the outset of being ‘unequally yoked’ with those who were not His people, and this act of the returned exiles was a breach of that directive. The news shocked Ezra and drove him to express great grief, but it also led him to pray and confess the sin of His people to God, pleading with God for forgiveness. The prayer recorded in Ezra 9 is one of the great prayers of the Bible and clearly reminds us that while the world ‘winks’ at sin, God sees things far differently!  We are all guilty before Him on many counts and need His mercy and forgiveness, which He gives to those who ask because of His Son, Jesus.