EZRA 8:21-9:15 | 1 CORINTHIANS 5:1-13 | PSALM 31:1-8 | PROVERBS 21:1-2
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Ezra continues his account in the first person of making the long journey back to Jerusalem, and there is a detailed account of the gold and silver that he carries back and entrusts to the priests for use in the Temple. Furthermore, there is the account of a grand celebration within the Temple, most likely a reference to the observance of Passover.
The next chapter is devoted to Ezra’s great prayer and lament concerning the intermarriage of the Jewish people with the many natives. It seems like Ezra is making too much of a big deal of this, but that is how the Jewish people were expected to practice their faith in that day. It was the old covenant that God had made with Moses that included the stipulation that intermarriage was prohibited.
All this will soon change, as we well know. Another devout Jew by the name of Paul will come along in the next six hundred years or so, and will point to another Jew by the name of Jesus who defied every possible commandment of the old covenant, and it this Jew’s doings that Paul will reference in advocating that a separation between Jew and non-Jew was no longer necessary.
And speaking of Paul, we turn now to our reading in I Corinthians, and find Paul offering some very specific advice to the early Christians in Corinth: get your house in order, he is saying, i.e., the church being the house. While Paul is not advocating judging anyone outside the church for deviant behaviors, he is quite clear about judging and uprooting those within the church who are engaged in such behaviors.
Paul does not mince words in identifying these behaviors, and in instructing them to take the necessary action. He says, 6 Don’t you know that a little yeast leavens the whole batch of dough? 7 Get rid of the old yeast, so that you may be a new unleavened batch—as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. 8 Therefore let us keep the Festival, not with the old bread leavened with malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
And in case this was still not sufficiently clear, he goes on to say this: 12 What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? 13 God will judge those outside. “Expel the wicked person from among you.”
Turning now to our reading in the psalms, we find David, the psalmist, crying out to God for help. There is a total and utter trust in God’s provision and deliverance. David says,
3 Since you are my rock and my fortress,
for the sake of your name lead and guide me.
4 Keep me free from the trap that is set for me,
for you are my refuge.
5 Into your hands I commit my spirit;
deliver me, LORD, my faithful God.
Finally, a verse from the book of Proverbs in which Solomon, the wise king of Israel, offers some food for thought:
2 A person may think their own ways are right,
but the LORD weighs the heart.
May God bless the reading and reflection of His Word.