Those Guilty of Intermarriage (Ezra 10:18 – 44)

Scripture Text:

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Ezra 10:18 – 44

1. In whose file are you likely to find a black mark next to your name?

  • first grade teacher’s?
  • high school teacher’s 
  • pastor or counselor’s
  • IRS or collection agency?
  • FBI or criminal division?
  • medical records?
  • court records?

2. In reference to Question #2, of these files, which contents would you like to erase for all time?

3. Which of these names have seen listed elsewhere in the book of Ezra?

4. What is significant about only one singer and three gatekeepers marrying pagan wives (verse 24)? Likewise, why do you suppose no temple servants or descendants of Solomon’s servants are guilty of this?

5. Why do you think children were insufficient reason for halting the divorce proceedings (verse 44)? 

6. Why such furor over relatively few transgressors (27 clergy and 84 laity)?

7. What does the total of 111 guilty men, their ex-spouses and broken homes do for you? How would you feel seeing your name listed here? Does such sentiment tend to overshadow the principles involved?

8. This list of guilty men attests to a momentary purge and purification of Israel. Some 12 and 25 years later (see Nehemiah 10:30 and Nehemiah 13:23 – 29), Nehemiah must confront that same sin of mixed marriages. What does that say about human nature? About the tenacity of sin? About the effect of legal sanctions? About the need for continuing to renew divine-human covenants?

9. Where then would you place your hope for a purified Church today (see Matthew 13:24 – 30)?

10. In your study of Ezra, what have you learned about your own human nature? About God’s nature? About His desires for you? His discipline of you?

11. What kind of pilgrim would you have made back in Ezra’s day? How is that shown in your faith now?

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The People’s Confession Of Sin (Ezra 10:1 – 17)

Scripture Text:

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Ezra 10:1 – 17

1. What important oaths or covenants have you made: marriage? public office? military service? ordination?

2. What held you accountable to your vow: spouse? media? public trust? conscience? consequences?

3. Which vow do you consider most serious? Most silly?

4. What is the effect of Ezra’s prayer on the people? What is Shecaniah’s message and its effect?

5. How does Ezra become convinced and, in turn, convince others that this is the will of God? Is he pulling rank, twisting arms, exercising wisdom, or what (verses 5 – 8; see also chapter 7:25 – 28)?

6. What compromise is proposed and why (verses 12 – 14)? With what opposition and why (verse 15)? Which view carries the day and why?

7. Why do you suppose it took so long to process all the cases:

  • judicial red tape?
  • bitter foreign wives?
  • fearful Israelite men?

8. What is the connection here between repentance and hope? Between prayer and action? Between unilateral covenant and mutual agreement? Point of decision and process of implementation?

9. Why do many people find it valuable to make a decision and act quickly? Why do others procrastinate and compromise? Which do you like to do and why?

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Ezra’s Prayer About Intermarriage (Ezra 9)

 

Scripture Text:

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Ezra 9

1. What is your image of confession:

  • confessional box?
  • “Dear Abby” column?
  • trusted friends?
  • good for the soul?
  • bad public relations?

2. When have you seen public confession work out for good?

3. How extensive is this problem of intermarriage? What five parties are guilty (verses 1 and 2; see chapter 10:18 – 43, for names)? How long is Ezra on the scene before being brought in for damage control (compare chapter 10:9 and chapter 7:9)?

4. Ezra wanted to establish a holy nation with pure marriages. What are the pros and cons of this (see Deuteronomy 7:1 – 5; Malachi 2:10 – 16; 2 Corinthians 6:14; Genesis 41:45; Numbers 12: 1)?

5. In Ezra’s response what is the emotional tone? The gist of his logic? Why is he so heart-broken?

6. What five themes do you see in this classic prayer (verses 6f, 8f, 10ff, 13f, 15)?

7. What does this prayer tell you about which is greater – guilt or grace? Slavish habits or new life? God’s anger or mercy?

8. What hope for the remnant do you see (verse 14)?

9. What effect do you suppose his public and published prayer had on the first audience? On later reader? On God? On you? Explain.

10. Some 25 years later, Nehemiah dealt with the same problem of intermarriage with foreigners, but pulled out more hair than Ezra (see Nehemiah 13:23 – 29). If confronted with a similarly offensive sin, would you respond more like Nehemiah or Ezra (“beating them” verses “abasing self”)? How else do you express your grief over sin?

11. What problem do you have with people marrying outside the Christian faith? How common is that among your friends? With what results?

12. What else could compromise a struggling community of faith as much as mixed marriages in ancient Israel?

13. Do your pray more personal “I-prayers”, or more priestly “we-prayers”? Why?

14. How has God given you new life (verse 9) along your journey: short-lived? long-lasting? or what?

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