Prayer Focus: Pakistan

Bible Reading: Ezra 7-10

Then Ezra the priest stood up and said to them, “You have been unfaithful; you have married foreign women, adding to Israel’s guilt. Now make confession to the Lord, the God of your fathers, and do his will. Separate yourselves from the peoples around you and from your foreign wives.” (Ezra 10:10, 11 NIV84)

Reestablishing the purity and identity of Israel was a painful process. The joy of returning home quickly gave way to the realization of all the sin that brought God to exile them in the first place. In some cases the sin hadn’t even been removed.

That was the case with bringing back pagan wives. These wives weren’t just foreign. Moses had a foreign wife. Rahab and Ruth were both foreigners, but because they repented and turned to the one true God they were fully accepted as Israelites.

The integration of pagan beliefs led to the punishment of Israel time and again. Solomon’s pagan wives caused the division of Israel into two kingdoms. Kings who follow pagan gods brought in all that the pagan religions practiced; idolatry, adultery, incest, child sacrifice, and subjugating the people of Israel, among other things.

As Israel is being rebuilt God wanted the pagans purged from His nation to keep that from happening again. The Israelites listened and sent the pagans away.

I admit hearing about people being sent away, especially women and children sounds cruel. It was hard for me to find something redeeming about that passage until I was reminded what the pagans brought with them. At least they were given the opportunity to start a new life somewhere else.

Things are so much different today. We live in a time where Jesus has fulfilled the law. If we find ourselves in a relationship with someone who doesn’t love God, unless they are unfaithful or abusive, we pray for them and love them in hopes that they will repent and put their faith and trust in Jesus. The result is that someone could be saved instead of put out on their own.

Lord, I thank you that you gave me a wife who loves You and has taught me so much about You. I pray for those who find themselves in marriages where they are “unequally yoked.” I can’t imagine the difficulty and the loneliness of not being able to share your deepest beliefs. I pray that those spouses who are lost would find you, that those marriages would be strengthened because of it and a revival of what marriage is in your eyes would sweep this land. Amen!