Do Not Intermarry

Have you ever read passages such as Deuteronomy 7:3-4 or Ezra 10:1-5 where God the Father, the Almighty, the Omniscient is admonishing His chosen people NOT to marry the people from the lands in which they are living or about to live in? The Deuteronomy passage reads, “You shall not intermarry with them, giving your daughters to their sons or taking their daughters for your sons, for they will turn you away from following Me, to serve other gods…”
Before you decide this doesn’t apply to you and speed-read through this or skip it altogether, let me share with you a deeper and more personal application of this from my own experience so that your eyes may be opened and you won’t fall into the same trap as I did.
What is the most basic reason for God’s warning here? Plainly and simply, it is sin. What does sin do? It separates us from God, it can hinder our walk with Him, it can keep us from going further in service and ministry; the list goes on, certainly not the least of which is disobedience which does NOT convey to our Father that we love Him and that He is preeminent in our hearts, minds and lives!
I have been working for almost six months at a local company on second shift where I have been trained by, and work alongside, a very intelligent 29-year-old guy who has gotten a little too comfortable with some areas of the job. The reasons for this are his length of time there (4 years), some unavoidable down time (our part is limited in the process for the first couple of hours of the shift) and the lack of authority in our immediate supervision.
He has been in the habit of surfing the web or checking his email for quite a while and now he often plays an online video game (pool). All of these things I was against at first- and rightly so. It’s common sense that you don’t do these things on someone else’s dime (it’s a form of stealing), whether they say anything to you about it or not. But because of moments of unavoidable down time later in our shift, I found myself tempted to surf the net or to check my email too. I have stopped short of playing games, obviously. Am I to be commended for that? Not at all! I have given in to the temptation to do these things repeatedly, even though it is momentary at best. I have heard that still, small voice admonishing me, yet I have given in. Pray for me to be the man of character and obedience to the Lord that I usually am.
What have I done? I have INTERMARRIED. I have found myself in Gentile surroundings and I have allowed that culture to begin to erode my character, my actions and my Christian witness. I am in danger of becoming assimilated. What does God say I must do in response? Let’s read Ezra 10:1-5, “While Ezra prayed and made confession, weeping and casting himself down before the house of God, a very great assembly of men, women and children, gathered to him out of Israel, for the people wept bitterly. And Sheceniah the son of Jehiel, of the sons of Elam, addressed Ezra: ‘We have broken faith with our God and have married foreign women from the peoples of the land, but even now there is hope for Israel in spite of this. Therefore let us make a covenant with our God TO PUT AWAY ALL THESE WIVES AND THEIR CHILDREN, according to the counsel of my Lord and of those who tremble at the commandment of our God, and let it be done according to our Law. Arise, for it is your task, and we are with you; be strong and do it.’ Then Ezra arose and made all Israel take oath that they would do as had been said. So they took the oath.”
What does the book of James 1:27 tell us? “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction and TO KEEP ONESELF UNSTAINED FROM THE WORLD.” I have, as of yesterday, taken my oath with the Lord and have purposed myself not to do this again. I have asked Him according to His will knowing that His strength will be perfected in my weakness. So I know my prayer will be answered. I am happy to tell you that He has taken away that temptation already. Thank You also, Lord, for understanding, for having compassion and cleansing me according to 1 John 1:9. And for those of you who think what I was doing is no big deal, that’s not God’s stance on the issue. Jesus died and shed His blood to cover me so that the Father sees me as righteous. Would I trample on that wondrous act of grace by doing anything against His holy will? No. God bless YOU in your time of need and temptation, whether you see it for what it is or not.– Ken

Advertisements

Forgiven and Called to Forgive: an Act of Grace & a Mandate- There’s great power in it

As I sat down to eat my lunch at a local fast food restaurant today, I noticed a kind of heavy-set guy sitting directly across from me in the next booth. He had only a small cup of soda, never looked up, wore a baseball cap which covered my view of his face, fiddled with his cell phone and was wearing an Al Capone t-shirt- what significance that had, I’m not sure.

As I ate, I noticed his fairly big forearms. Both were tattooed with large lettering and the ink was worn enough that I knew they weren’t fresh. What got my attention and started me thinking compassionately was what the words said. As I faced him, the left forearm read “vengeance” in 1-inch-plus letters. The right forearm read “retribution.” And just above that word was a large red spider with a fairly big web protruding from under its head, ending in a heavy, linked chain. “Whoa!” I remember thinking. “What’s his story?” I really wanted to talk to him about it and how the incredible love of Jesus could set him free, whatever it was. But, I didn’t have enough time for what would surely not be a short conversation; and that’s assuming he would’ve even wanted or been willing to talk.

After finishing eating and driving to where I needed to be, I couldn’t help but think about what or who had angered him and caused him so much pain that he not only hurt, but continued to hurt. Then, he let it fester and grow to the point that he focused on it so much as to decide to get a tattoo. Then, he endured the physical pain and the time and money it took to get the tattoo(s).

 

All the while along the way, he could have chosen not to do it. It must have been something so awful, like a betrayal or the taking of a loved one’s life. Now he’s got these very noticeable reminders of an event he probably wishes he could forget. I so wanted to talk to him about the Lord of the universe and how He died to set us free from sin and the consequences associated with it- those who sin against us and those we sin against.

Beyond that, there’s a scripture in Psalm 51:4 that says we sin, actually, not against each other but against God Himself. So, taking this man’s pain and hurt and multiplying it times every person who has ever lived and will live (right now there are 7 billion people on the earth, not to mention all the people who have lived and died before us), can you begin to fathom how much it hurts and offends our holy, perfect and loving Father? Imagine how He feels. Does sin anger Him? Sure. But does He revile us? Does He let this defile Him? Does He vow to take us down? No. No? What does He do? How does He react?

He takes a part of Himself, His only Son Jesus Christ, and sends Him down from His perfect dwelling place to live among all of us sinners- not to condemn us- but to save us (John 3:17). How do we react to this? We reject Him, we put anything and everything before Him (idolatry), we say things like “Oh, my God!”, “G— D—!”, and “for Christ’s sake!”, for example. All of these things are taking the Lord’s name in vain and are serious offenses, from which the Lord promises we will not be held guiltless. We should be ashamed, confess our guilt, accept His FREE gift of eternal life and forgiveness of sins, be overwhelmed with gratitude, and issue a huge and collective sigh of relief that He chose LOVE and self-sacrifice over “vengeance and retribution.”

And He died. That was His purpose. Many of us who haven’t accepted the wonderful and totally undeserving grace of Jesus Christ wonder what our purpose in life is. In Christ’s case, you could say that “He was born to die.” What does that mean? In an oversimplified but very true sense, He was sent here to die (for us). That wasn’t His only purpose, but it was His ultimate one. God is saying, “I love these people, but they have transgressed my laws. They have rejected my ways. They act as if they are God by choosing which ones they want to obey and which ones they don’t. Or worse, they make their own laws which only lead them further astray. I am God. I am Almighty. I am sovereign in all the universe. I am Judge. They are guilty. This deserves death because there are only two eternal outcomes: Life and Death. Any transgression of my laws nullifies life. But, I love them so much! I will send My Son who is perfect to die in their place. That’s the only way to ensure that My JUSTICE and My LOVE can both be satisfied.”

WOW! Can you imagine that? Can you believe that? Yet, vengeance and retribution and any other sins keep us from having that amazing second and last chance. My prayer for that man- and for you- is to let it go. Give it to Jesus. Accept the love. Turn away from sin. Turn to God. Be forgiven. Be set free. Live as a new creation. God Bless you!