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God commanded the separation of Israel from the nations to be his own and the separation of the Levites apart from the other Israelites in the Old Testament for a reason: Israel was meant “to be His own” (Lev 20:24), and the Levites “to be Mine” (Lev 20:26, Num 8:14). 1 Kings 8:53 reiterated that Israel is God’s own inheritance. When they gave of themselves and their sons and daughters in marriage to Gentiles, they were giving what weren’t theirs in the first place and what they had no right to give. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 say, “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.”
However, the command was not meant to exclude foreigner per se, because in Isaiah 56:3 the LORD said that He does not exclude, or the word “separate” in Hebrew, the foreigner who has bound himself to Him. Two of the most legendary women in Israel’s history were foreigners – Rahab and Ruth, both were ancestors of Jesus the Messiah (Matt 1:5). The text clearly explains the objection was against “the neighboring peoples with their detestable practices” (v 1) and “the peoples who commit such detestable practices” (v 14)
Do Not Ruin What You are Free to Enjoy in the Present
8 “But now, for a brief moment, the LORD our God has been gracious in leaving us a remnant and giving us a firm place in his sanctuary, and so our God gives light to our eyes and a little relief in our bondage. 9 Though we are slaves, our God has not deserted us in our bondage. He has shown us kindness in the sight of the kings of Persia: He has granted us new life to rebuild the house of our God and repair its ruins, and he has given us a wall of protection in Judah and Jerusalem. (Ezra 9:8-9)
My wife and I know a sister in Christ from South East Asia who, as a young woman, was married to an unbeliever. Even though the members of her church knew about her circumstances, they still appointed her to serve as deacon because of her proven track in service and relationships.
However, she had more than her fair share of reproof. Her husband had never stepped a foot into the church. She was known as a woman of mystery. Even though her husband did not stop her from serving, no one had seen her husband. He had never stepped his foot into the church and her only son left the church after high school. Asking about her family was a no-no. She would bristle, change topics or deflect the questions.
The irony is that when she finally retired and her son was about to become an American citizen, she cringed at the thought of immigrating there even though her husband relished the thought of reuniting with the son. She shared with us, “I won’t be as convenient as it is over here. Most importantly, I cannot not serve.” Deep in her heart, she was afraid she couldn’t even get a ride to church in a new place. She lived her life pulled by two opposing forces.
Ezra likened their sweet return to Israel after seventy years of exile as a brief moment (v 8), a small opening or a short time that God has given them. Their survival was a miracle. Countries have survived defeat
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