SO EZRA (A LOYAL, OBEDIENT SCRIBE & PRIEST) RETURNS ALL EXCITED TO THE JERUSALEM TEMPLE, EXPECTING TO REKINDLE A CLOSER RELATIONSHIP WITH HIS CREATOR THROUGH SACRIFICE AND PRAISE (AFTER NEVER EXPERIENCING THE PROPER ANOINTED HOUSE OF YAHUAH BECAUSE OF BABYLONIAN CAPTIVITY) . . . BUT WHAT HE FINDS INSTEAD IS TOTAL CHAOS, DISARRAY AND A LACK OF AGREEMENT ON THE PROPER WAY TO OBSERVE YAHUAH'S COMMANDS AND INSTRUCTIONS ...
EZRA IS IN COMPLETE SHOCK!!
NO ONE WILL COME TOGETHER - AGREE - AND BE IN ONE MIND ANE BE `TORAH-OBEDIENT' TO GAIN A SUPERNATURAL EXPERIENCE & RELATIONSHIP - INSTEAD OF HAVING THEIR OWN MAN-MADE TRADITIONS AND WAYS! ... JUST LIKE TODAY REALLY!
1After we finished all these things (RETURNED AND GAVE THE GOLD AND SILVER TO THE TEMPLE AUTHORITIES), the leaders of the Israelites came to me and said, “Ezra, the Israelites have not kept themselves separate from the other people living around us, nor have the Priests and the Levites stayed away from the abominations done by the Canaanites, Hittites, Perizzites, Jebusites, Ammonites, Moabites, Egyptians, and Amorites, but are being influenced by their evil lifestyles. 2The Israelites have even married the people living around us from the nations (FORBIDDEN BY MOSES). The Israelites are supposed to be set-apart and special, but now they’re inter-mixed with the other people living around them. The leaders and important officials of the Israelites have set a very bad example in this behaviour!”
IT'S NOT JUST THE PEOPLE BUT ALSO THE PRIESTS AND THE LEVITES THAT HAVE REFUSED TO KEEP THE FOREIGNERS (WHO HAD MOVED INTO JUDAH DURING THE EXILE) AT ARMS LENGTH, AND MANY HEBREW MEN HAVE EVEN MARRIED SOME OF THOSE FOREIGN WOMEN. THEN WE GET A LIST OF 8 FOREIGN PEOPLES (NATIONS) THAT SUPPLIED THESE WIVES.
THE FIRST THING WE NEED TO REMEMBER IS THAT YAHUAH’S DIVINE LAWS DO NOT PROHIBIT HEBREWS FROM INTER-MARRYING WITH GENTILES. IN FACT WE FIND SEVERAL CASES OF IT EVEN AMONG THE PATRIARCHS - ABRAHAM, ISAAC AND JACOB - LONG AS THEY ABANDONED THEIR IDOLATRY!
THAT SAID, YAHUAH DIDN’T WANT THE HEBREWS MARRYING INTO CERTAIN PEOPLE GROUPS (OR NATIONS) AND MOST OF THESE WERE TARGETED BECAUSE THEY WERE RESIDENTS OF CANAAN, (THE PEOPLE YAHUAH CALLED WICKED AND WANTED REMOVED FROM THE LAND IN ORDER TO GIVE IT TO HIS PEOPLE ISRAEL). AND IF WE LOOK AT THE LIST HERE IN VERSE 1 AND COMPARE IT WITH EARLIER LISTS OF PEOPLE GROUPS THE ISRAELITES WERE TO AVOID FRATERNISING WITH (IN EXODUS & DEUT) WE FIND THE SAME FAMILIAR NAMES OF NATIONS.
THE ISSUE FOR EZRA WAS JUST HOW MUCH OF YAHUAH’S LAWS COULD HE REASONABLY BRING THE JEWS BACK INTO CONSIDERING HOW EMBEDDED THEY WERE IN THE WAYS OF EARLY JUDAISM IN THEIR EVERYDAY LIFE AND SOCIETY. THE PAGAN GENTILES HAD INFLUENCED THE JEWISH CULTURE SO MUCH, AND THEY WERE ALREADY SO FAR FROM THE BEHAVIOURAL STANDARD OF YAHUAH’S WORD. MOST JEWS HAD LITTLE TO NO KNOWLEDGE OR EXPERIENCE WITH SCRIPTURE-BASED LAWS OR LIVING IN A BEHAVIOUR LIKE THEIR DISTANT ANCESTORS HAD LIVED. AND THE PRECISE CHALLENGE THAT EZRA IS FACED WITH IN HERE IN CHAPTERS 9 AND 10 MUST BE THE MOST EMOTIONALLY GUT-WRENCHING ONE IMAGINABLE: MANY OF THE MARRIAGES AND RESULTING FAMILIES THAT THE JEWS HAD FORMED OVER THE PAST CENTURY WERE (IN YAHUAH’S EYES) ILLEGITIMATE BECAUSE THESE MARRIAGES WERE BETWEEN HIS PEOPLE AND FOREIGN PAGANS. IN FACT THESE MARRIAGES REPRESENTED FUNDAMENTAL DISOBEDIENCE TO YAHUAH, BECAUSE THEY DIRECTLY VIOLATED THE LAW OF MOSES (IN PRINCIPAL, LETTER AND SPIRIT), AND MALACHI MADE IT CLEAR THAT THIS WAS AN ABOMINATION THAT COULD NOT STAND IF HARMONY WITH YAHUAH WAS TO BE RESTORED.
REMEMBER THAT EVERY FOREIGN NATION HAD A CHIEF DEITY AND A BUNCH OF OTHER GODS & GODDESSES AS WELL. THE IDOL AND THE NATION WERE SEEN AS INSEPARABLE. SO THE ACCUSATION IS THAT YAHUAH’S SANCTUARY (THE TEMPLE) IS DEFILED AND UNCLEAN BECAUSE THE MALES OF JUDAH MARRIED FOREIGN WOMEN (WHO BY DEFINITION WORSHIPPED OTHER DEITIES) - WHICH WAS THE DOWNFALL OF SOLOMON ALSO - AND WE SAW HOW THAT WENT FOR ISRAEL !!
SO NOW EZRA'S CONCLUSION WAS THAT THE ONLY POSSIBLE SOLUTION FOR THE HUNDREDS, PERHAPS THOUSANDS OF MARRIAGES BETWEEN PAGAN GENTILES AND JEWS (THAT YAHUAH PLAINLY SAID WAS A GREAT AFFRONT TO HIM) WAS TO SEND THE FOREIGN WIVES, (ALONG WITH THEIR CHILDREN) AWAY. IT WAS SIMILAR IN PRINCIPLE AND EFFECT AS TO WHEN ABRAHAM HAD NO CHOICE BUT TO SEND HAGAR AND HER SON ISHMAEL AWAY (ISHMAEL WAS, OF COURSE, ALSO ABRAHAM’S BIOLOGICAL SON JUST AS THESE CHILDREN THAT WOULD BE SENT AWAY WERE THE CHILDREN OF JEWISH FATHERS). NOW MULTIPLY THE PAIN AND SUFFERING OF THE HAGAR SITUATION A THOUSAND-FOLD IN THE CASE OF THE JEWS HERE. WHAT ELSE IS THE SOLUTION TO AN UNAUTHORISED MARRIAGE THAN TO DISSOLVE THE UNION? AND YET AT THE SAME TIME YAHUAH SAYS, “I HATE DIVORCE!”
3And when I (EZRA) heard about this (THE ILLEGAL MARRIAGES) I tore my robe and my coat, pulling the hair from my head and beard, then I sat down, shocked and upset. 4Then everyone who respected YAHUAH’S Divine Laws shook with fear. They were afraid because the Israelites who came back from captivity were not obedient and loyal to YAHUAH. I was shocked and upset and just sat there until the evening sacrifice, and the people gathered around me.
AT THE TEMPLE, WITH PEOPLE SURROUNDING HIM, EZRA SAT FOR HOURS IN A STATE OF MOURNING AND GRIEF OVER WHAT HE'D LEARNED ABOUT THE MARRIAGES BETWEEN EVERY STRATA OF JEWISH SOCIETY AND FOREIGN PAGANS. IT WAS AS THOUGH HE WAS PARALYSED WITH SHOCK AND FEAR, UNABLE TO PROCESS THE CALAMITY. UNDERSTAND THAT ONLY A PERSON WELL-VERSED IN YAHUAH’S WORD AND DEVOTED TO OBEDIENCE TO YAHUAH'S COMMANDMENTS, WOULD EVEN RECOGNISE THAT THERE WAS A PROBLEM, LET ALONE THE ENORMITY OF IT! FROM AN EARTHLY SOCIETAL, ECONOMIC VIEWPOINT, THERE WAS NOTHING DIFFERENT ON THE DAY THE BAD NEWS WAS RECEIVED THAN FROM THE DAY BEFORE, OR THE YEAR BEFORE, OR THE DECADE BEFORE. GOODNESS: EVEN THE PRIESTHOOD HAD SUPPORTED AND INDULGED IN THESE MARRIAGES TO FOREIGNERS. THERE WAS NO INVADING ARMY, PESTILENCE, DESTRUCTIVE EARTHQUAKE OR POLITICAL UPHEAVAL THAT HAD JUST HAPPENED. TO THE SPIRITUALLY ASLEEP EVERYTHING APPEARED PERFECTLY NORMAL - SO WHY WAS EZRA ROCKING THE BOAT SO MUCH? IT TOOK EZRA COURAGEOUSLY GOING AGAINST THE TIDE OF JEWISH SOCIETY, FROM THE LOWLIEST FIELD-WORKER TO THE HIGHEST RELIGIOUS-LEADERSHIP, TO MAKE THEM AWARE OF YAHUAH’S GREAT RAGE AGAINST THEM. AND THAT THE ANGER WOULD NOT CEASE UNTIL THE SITUATION WAS RESOLVED.
5Then, when it was time for the evening sacrifice, I got up. I had made myself look shameful while I was sitting there. My robe and coat were torn, and I fell on my knees with my hands spread out to YAHUAH my Alahim.
6Then I prayed this prayer: “My Alahim, I am too ashamed and embarrassed to even look at You. I'm ashamed because our sins are higher than our heads. Our guilt has reached all the way up to the Heavens. 7We have been guilty of many sins from the days of our ancestors until now. We sinned so our Kings and Priests were punished. Foreign Kings attacked us and took our people away. They took away our wealth and made us ashamed. It is the same even today".
SINCE EZRA WAS A TEACHER AND ALSO CARRIED THE KING’S AUTHORITY, THE PRAYER WAS MEANT TO BE BOTH A PLEA TO YAHUAH AND INSTRUCTIONAL TO THE PEOPLE AS TO THE NATURE AND GRAVITY OF WHAT THEY HAD DONE. EZRA BEGINS BY CONFESSING GUILT AND NOT SEPARATING HIMSELF FROM EVERYONE ELSE EVEN THOUGH HE WASN’T ONE WHO HAD TAKEN A FOREIGN WIFE (SO FAR AS WE KNOW). IN OTHER WORDS, HIS PRAYER WAS ON BEHALF OF THE ASSEMBLY OF JUDAH AND EZRA COUNTED HIMSELF AS AMONG THEM. THEREFORE HE WAS GUILTY BY ASSOCIATION. SO WHILE AS INDIVIDUALS EZRA AND MANY OTHERS OF THE EXILES DID NOT MARRY FOREIGN WOMEN, AND DID NOT SIN AGAINST YAHUAH IN THAT WAY, ON THE OTHER HAND THEY WERE ALL MEMBERS OF THE COLLECTIVE CALLED JUDAH AND SO WHAT BEFELL ONE BEFELL ALL, SHOULD YAHUAH DISH OUT JUDGMENT AGAINST JUDAH.
8"But now, finally, You have been kind to us. You have let a few of us escape captivity and come to live in this set-apart place again. YAHUAH, You gave us new life and relief from our slavery. 9Yes, we were slaves, but You would not let us be slaves forever. You were kind to us. You made the Kings of Persia be kind to us. Your Temple was ruined, but You gave us new life so that we could build your Temple new again. YAHUAH, You helped us build a wall to protect Judah and Jerusalem".
THERE ARE, AND WILL BE, PARTS OF THE TORAH LAW THAT EZRA AND HIS PEOPLE WILL NOT BE ABLE TO REINSTITUTE, NOT BECAUSE IT’S TECHNICALLY UNDOABLE, BUT BECAUSE THEY ARE IN OPPOSITION TO PERSIAN LAW AND BECAUSE THE NEW PERSIAN SOCIETY WILL FIGHT AGAINST SOME OF THESE PROPOSED CHANGES HAMMER AND TONG. AND WHY ARE JUDAH AND EZRA IN THIS FRUSTRATING POSITION THAT WILL NOT PERMIT ABSOLUTE PURITY OF OBEDIENCE TO THE DIVINE-LAWS EVEN IF THEY TRY? BECAUSE THE PERSONAL SINS OF THE JEWS AS WELL AS THE INIQUITIES OF THEIR FATHERS HAVE ALTERED HISTORY AND THE CONDITIONS THEY NOW LIVE UNDER WON’T ALLOW FOR IT.
DOES YAHUAH EXCUSE IT THEN? WAS IT THEN OK NOT TO DO THE PARTS OF THE LAW THAT THE JEWS COULDN’T DO BECAUSE OF THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF THEIR EXILE AND NOW A RETURN TO A MESSED-UP SOCIETY AND NEW RELIGION? HARDLY. ALL THAT HAPPENS IS THAT THE SINS AND INIQUITIES WILL CONTINUE TO PILE UP HIGHER AND HIGHER BECAUSE THEY AREN’T OBSERVING ALL THE DIVINE LAWS, BECAUSE THEY CAN’T, BECAUSE THEY CAUSED THE CONDITIONS FOR THIS UNTENABLE SITUATION BY THEIR SINNING, AND THEY CAN’T FIX IT SIMPLY BECAUSE THEY CHANGED THEIR MINDS. TRULY THE DEFINITION OF A VICIOUS CIRCLE ... WHICH IS THE SAME STATE WE ALL LIVE IN TODAY !!
10“Now, YAHUAH, what can we say to You? We have stopped obeying You again. 11You used Your servants the Prophets to give these special commands to us. You said, ‘The land you are going to live in and own is a ruined land. It has been ruined and defiled by evil abominations the people living there have done. They have done very bad things in every place in this land. They have made this land filthy with their sins. 12So Israelites, don’t let your children marry their children. Don’t join them. Don’t want the things they have. Obey my commands so that you will be strong and enjoy the good things of the land. And then you can keep this land and give it to your children".
REMEMBER EZRA SAW HIS JOURNEY FROM BABYLON LIKE A SECOND EXODUS EXPERIENCE AND HE'D ORGANISED HIS GROUP IN THE SAME WAY THE ORIGINAL EXODUS JOURNEY WAS, WITH PRIESTS, LEVITES, AND 12 GROUPS OF LAY-PEOPLE. AND SO, USING INSTRUCTIONS GIVEN TO THE ISRAELITES FROM THE FIRST EXODUS, EZRA SAYS THAT THE PEOPLE WERE TOLD THAT THE REASON YAHUAH WAS GIVING THEM THE LAND OF CANAAN FOR THEIR OWN, AND EXPELLING THE CURRENT INHABITANTS, IS BECAUSE THE CANAANITES’ UNCLEANNESS DEFILED THE LAND. IT WAS BECAUSE OF THEIR DISGUSTING ABOMINABLE PRACTICES THAT FILLED CANAAN WITH THEIR PAGAN FILTH FROM ONE END TO THE OTHER THAT YAHUAH WANTED THEM OUT.
THEREFORE........ISRAEL WAS CERTAINLY NOT TO INTERMARRY WITH THEM, WHETHER IT WAS HEBREW SONS TO PAGAN WOMEN, OR HEBREW DAUGHTERS TO PAGAN MEN. EVEN MORE, THEY WERE NOT TO COMMANDED BY MOSES & JOSHUA NOT TO MAKE PEACE-TREATIES WITH THESE NATIONS OR HELP THEM TO PROSPER IN ANY WAY - YAHUAH WANTED TO GET RID OF THEM. AND IF THEY DID AS YAHUAH COMMANDED THROUGH THE PROPHETS, THEN ISRAEL WOULD LIVE IN THE LAND AND PROSPER.
13“What has happened to us is our own fault. We have done evil things, and we have much guilt. But you, our Alahim, have punished us much less than we should have been. We have done many terrible sins, and we should have been punished worse. And You have even let some of our people escape captivity. 14So we know that we must not break Your commands. We must not marry those people. They have abominable behaviour. YAHUAH, if we continue to marry these bad people, we know you will destroy us. Then there would be no one from the Israelites left alive. 15YAHUAH, Alahim of Israel, you are good, and you still have let some of us live. Yes, we are guilty, and because of our guilt, not one of us should be allowed to stand in front of you.”
THEY WERE TO AVOID ALL RELATIONSHIP WITH THE PAGAN FOREIGNERS OF CANAAN, AND INSTEAD THE JEWS MADE THE CLOSEST UNION HUMANLY AND SPIRITUALLY POSSIBLE WITH THEM: THE UNION OF MARRIAGE. IT SIMPLY DOESN’T GET ANY WORSE THAN THIS. BECAUSE THIS SIN IS THE WORST OF THE WORST IT GAINS THE LABEL OF “AN ABOMINATION”.
BOTTOM LINE: BE CAREFUL ABOUT THE LEADERSHIP AND THE COLLECTIVES/FELLOWSHIP/FAMILY YOU CHOOSE TO PUT YOURSELF UNDER, BECAUSE YAHUAH HOLDS YOU RESPONSIBLE FOR YOUR CHOICES. IT DOESN’T MATTER WHETHER THAT CHOICE BEGINS WITH YOUR CIRCLE OF FRIENDS, OR FAMILY, OR FELLOWSHIP, OR COMMUNITY YOU CHOOSE TO LIVE IN, OR THE NATION YOU FIND YOURSELF IN.
LUKE 14:26 "IF ANYONE COMES TO ME AND DOES NOT HATE (LOVE LESS) THEIR FATHER, MOTHER, WIFE, CHILDREN, BROTHERS AND SISTERS, YES, EVEN THEIR OWN LIFE, THEY CANNOT BE MY DISCIPLE”.
THESE ILLICIT MARRIAGES AMONG THE RETURNED EXILES HAVE GONE ON FOR A LONG TIME, AND THEY ARE STILL ALIVE! BUT JUST BECAUSE YAHUAH HASN’T KILLED THEM DOESN’T MEAN THAT THEY’RE NOT GUILTY. THE PEOPLE HAVE BEEN FOREWARNED AND PREPARED THAT SOMETHING AWFUL IS ABOUT TO HAPPEN SOON, BECAUSE THIS SITUATION OF THE ILLICIT MARRIAGE UNIONS CANNOT STAND.
NEXT WEEK, WE’LL WATCH AS EZRA DECIDES THAT THE ONLY POSSIBLE SOLUTION IS TO DISSOLVE THAT WHICH YAHUAH FINDS ABHORRENT BEFORE HIM, NO MATTER THE SOCIETAL DISRUPTION, THE IMMENSE AND LONG TERM HEARTACHE, AND TO SOME (IN A CERTAIN SENSE) THE UNFAIRNESS OF IT TO MANY WHO ARE INNOCENT PRODUCTS OF THESE ILLICIT UNIONS ... THEY MUST ALL COME TOGETHER & AGREE WITH THE DIVINE WORDS OF YAHUAH THEIR ALAHIM ... TO GAIN HIS FAVOUR!
HEBREW UNDERSTANDING: AGREE
2164 - to agree on a time and place - to prepare.
3259 - to fix upon (by agreement or appointment), to meet (at a stated time), to summon (to trial), to direct (in a certain quarter or position), to engage (for marriage) - agree (make an) appointment, assemble yourselves, betroth, gather yourselves together), meet together).
1. “But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you". (MATT 5:44)
2. "And He said to him, ‘You shall Love Yahuah your Alahim with all your heart, and with all your being and with all your mind." (MATT 22:37)
3. “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them". (LUKE 6:32)
4. “By this all men will know that you are My Disciples, if you have love for one another.” (JN 13)
5. “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments". (JOHN 14:15)
6. “He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me - and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him.” (JOHN 14:21)
7. “Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you, so abide in My love". (JOHN 15:9)
8. "But Yahuah demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Yahusha died for us". (ROMANS 5:8)
9. "Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil, cling to what's good". (ROMANS 12:9)
10. "Love does no wrong to a neighbor, therefore love is the fulfillment of the law". (ROMANS 13:10)
11. "If I speak with the tongues of men and of Angels but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal". (1 COR 13:1)
12. "Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant". (1 COR 13:4)
13. "Love never fails, and if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away, if there are tongues, they will cease, if there is knowledge, it will be done away". (1 COR 13:8)
14. "But now belief, hope, love, abide these three, but the greatest of these is love". (1 COR 13)
15. "We love, because He first loved us". (1 JOHN 4)
Obviously, in summarising the Hebrew Word and Scripture, we can see in between the lines at the abstract meaning of the word AGREE. We see that TO AGREE IS LIKE A MARRIAGE which (of course) brings us to our Wedding Vows: the Ten Commandments (based on love) i.e how we treat Yahuah and our fellow man. In the Scriptures there is plenty of instruction to do that.
Why are those in the body of Yahusha not behaving according to the Instruction, but instead they are WILD and INDEPENDENT, not coming together through the Apostle's teachings? The early Assemblies entered into this same behaviour and THEY LOST THE SUPERNATURAL PRESENCE OF YAHUSHA, which has still not returned in its fullness because of this behaviour!
The Bride today is supposed to be in agreement with the Apostolic teachings… ENJOYING THE SUPERNATURAL PRESENCE in their Assemblies. This is not happening because there is conflicting ideas raging within the Body and LOVE CAN’T RAISE ITS HEAD ABOVE SUCH BEHAVIOUR!
Yahusha wants us cleansed from this behaviour so He can move in each and everyone of us in the gifts He bestows. Unless we can agree on these issues, we cannot experience the supernatural in our homes, lives and Fellowships.
Please settle your arguments and agree on the Apostolic Teachings, not on your own knowledge. FOR UNLESS WE ARE MOVING IN THE SUPERNATURAL WE ARE JUST ‘PLAYING CHURCH’... Of course we cannot approach the altar unless we are clean. This is how Yahusha wants his Bride to behave ...
AGREEING TO HIS TEACHINGS.