My dear friends, my brothers and sisters, you who are called by Christ’s name…
I’d like to share some things with you that I KNOW are G-d’s heart for His sons and daughters. Our Lord Jesus has been telling me some things through His Holy Spirit, and showing me too, for quite a while. It touches me and it should touch you as well as we are all part of His body. I really, really hope you will Hear, Listen, Receive and Heed His words.
When G-d Almighty first rescued and called out the Israelites, He chose them; they did not choose Him. It was done by His plan, mercy and unequaled love. He warned them in Deuteronomy 7:4 not to INTERMARRY with the idolatrous, ungodly people of the lands which surrounded them saying, “for they would turn your sons away from Me, to serve other gods.” In Ezra 9:2 it is revealed that “The holy race has mixed itself with the peoples of the lands.” This is important. The Lord is warning us today as well. You see, whether the Lord Jesus Christ comes back first or we die first really doesn’t matter. Either way, we don’t want to be caught without oil (see Matthew 25:1-13).
I am quite sure that when G-d’s chosen people first heard the warning they thought to themselves, “This will never happen to us” just as Peter was so sure he would not deny our Master. But one decision after another turns into a habit which turns into a lifestyle; one subtle distraction and one wrong choice at a time. And, before we realize it, we need to “make confession to the Lord…do His will” and “separate ourselves from the peoples of the land and from the foreign wives” (Ezra 10:11).
For our ancestors, the INTERMARRIAGE was with real people; for us, it is with real habits. Do you watch “The Walking Dead”? Have you read “Fifty Shades of Grey”? Do you listen to Beyoncé or Katy Perry? Do you, if you’re a sister, have to wriggle into your pants or jeans to fit into them, or maybe even button up your blouse a couple more inches? Do you laugh at things we know we should no longer find funny? Do you have a little more beer or wine in the house than Coke, coffee or water? If not these, then something else like things or attitudes in your heart and mind that you should not be harboring or entertaining (my problem many times), even if not quite so obviously unbecoming for an ambassador in Christ. Remember, the Lord gave me the message first so I am in this right along with you. But He did tell me it’s for the church, of which you and I are both a member. I’ll be the first to remind you of Romans 8:1 (Hallelujah!), but we also need to bear in mind that we are salt and light, and we no longer are—nor should we be—feeding on milk. We have INTERMARRIED to one degree or in one area or another. We have allowed ourselves to take on the characteristics of the people around us. Ephesians 5:27 reminds us that Jesus our Lord is not only coming back in glory, but that He is going to “…present the church to Himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing… so that we might be HOLY and without blemish.” He is coming like a thief in the night. Though we expect and anticipate Him, we know not when He will return.
The Holy Spirit threw spiritually cold water in my face recently with a phrase I knew that I had no idea of its depth, but which I also knew I was about to learn. Just as when the Lord sent Israel into Babylon with these words from Jeremiah 29:4-6, His paraphrased message was “Settle down. You will be in this place for a while.” In other words, I need to teach you something. I need to show you a few things. I need to
do a work in you, and it’s going to be for a season; how long or how short depends on you.” I am excited, eager and somewhat clueless. The phrase is part of a slightly larger context yet it jumps off the page saying, “it is no longer I who live” (Galatians 2:20). I know it scripturally. I understand it grammatically and somewhat intellectually. I am about to learn it by living it. It is necessary in my look-alike contest with my Savior and it is the promise that “He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion” (Philippians 1:6).
Have you ever noticed or thought that, at first read, our Messiah seemed like He was almost talking people out of becoming Christians? If these people would have encountered us, we would most certainly think the Father had given us a divine appointment to either plant, water or harvest. Look at the following verses and see what I mean:
(Luke 18:18-22) says, “And a ruler asked Him, ‘Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone. You know the commandments: Do not commit adultery, Do not murder, Do not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother.’ And he said, ‘All these things I have kept from my youth.’ When Jesus heard this, He said to him, ‘One thing you still lack. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in Heaven; and come, follow Me.’”
(Luke 9:23) says, “And He said to all, ‘If anyone would come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me.”
(Luke 9:57-62) tells us, “As they were going along the road, someone said to Him, ‘I will follow You wherever You go.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.’ To another He said, ‘Follow Me.’ But he said, ‘Lord, let me first go and bury my father.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.’ Yet another said, ‘I will follow You, Lord, but let me first say farewell to those at my home.’ Jesus said to him, ‘No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.’”
Was the King of the Jews trying to dissuade these would-be disciples? No, of course not. They very reason He left Heaven to come to Earth and die was to “seek and to save the lost.” So what was, and what is, His purpose in making these statements? It is because there is a COST to true discipleship. There is often no value in something when there is no cost associated with it. Matthew 13:44-46 explains the Kingdom of Heaven in this way, “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it.” I was telling a young boy who my wife and I know and love as he was taking care of some shoes that were recently bought for him (he said they were very special) that when you are young, don’t yet work and receive everything you have from others, you don’t necessarily put a lot of value in them. We, even as adults, do the same. When we begin to receive something as a result of a cost being associated with it (whether it’s labor, money, time or sacrifice), it means so much more and we don’t take it for granted. As a matter of fact, we care for it all the more!
His older brother saved up eighty dollars after working alongside his dad in order to get a friend to buy him a video game, but was told by his aunt that it was something frivolous. She also asked him if this other boy could really be trusted. He then decided it would be better to buy himself some new sneakers. When he did this and they got just a little bit dirty after playing outside, he quickly went inside (without any word from us) to clean them and put on an older pair before going back outside. He was taking care of them. Why? Because they cost him something and he attached worth to them.
When Jesus Christ purchased our redemption and our salvation it was because, to Him, His own creation are “pearls of great price.” Philippians 2:7-8 says, “But (He) made Himself nothing, taking the form of a bond-servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” Hebrews 12:2 shows how much value He put in being in the presence of Almighty G-d and paying our ransom, “who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of G-d.” When we come to the Lord Jesus Christ, we must realize that He is the Almighty, the Creator, the beginning and the end of everything. The Word of G-d puts our basic relationship in humbling perspective saying, “Heaven is G-d’s throne and the earth is His footstool.” Where He dwells and where we dwell paint a true and somewhat stark reality of the pecking order here. G-d, in the incarnate person of Jesus Christ, left His holy abode to submit to and walk among His sinful and rebellious creation. Why did He do such a thing? Why not just simply look at the evidence in our lives and say “guilty”? Though He is a just judge to be sure and no one can contradict His righteousness, He loves us with an enduring and everlasting love. We can’t wrap our minds around this pure, divine love because our version of love is stained, tainted, blemished and spotted.
When we go back to Deuteronomy 7:1-9, we want to focus on two excerpts; verses 3-4 and verse 6. The first one says, “You shall not intermarry with them, giving your daughters to their sons or taking their daughters for your sons, for they would turn away your sons from following Me, to serve other gods.” The One true and living G-d, Maker of Heaven and Earth, has shown great mercy, unprecedented and sacrificial love toward us in order to draw us out of the world and to make us a people for Himself. He has shed His own precious blood and, for those who acknowledge their guilt and willingly place themselves under its cleansing drops, they will find themselves astonishingly purified. As He warned the Israelites not to intermarry in order to maintain this justified and reconciled relationship, He tells us the same today in verse 6. It explains, “For you are a people holy to the Lord your G-d. The Lord your G-d has chosen you to be a people for His treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth.” Those of us who have been born-again of “water and the Spirit” and have been “baptized in the name of the Father, the Son and of the Holy Spirit” who have confessed their sins and received forgiveness (the true sense of the name “Christian”), have not only had their sins wiped clean, paid for and forgotten by the incomprehensible and free gift of Jesus the Christ, but have also had His righteousness (complete sinlessness) imparted to us! In this phenomenal exchange, G-d Almighty now looks at the true Christian and sees us as He sees His Son—blameless. Unstained.
The charge or command not to intermarry is just as paramount, just as relevant and just as imperative today for you and for me. While we may not literally intermarry with those unsaved people around us today, we must not do as they did in Ezra 9:2. It laments, “THE HOLY RACE HAS MIXED ITSELF WITH THE PEOPLES OF THE LANDS, and in this faithlessness the hand of the officials and chief men has been foremost.” Our intermarriage today consists of secular (ungodly) music, worldly clothing and immodesty, godless movies, taking the name of the Lord in vain in staggering abundance, pagan thinking, profane speech, liberal views, doctrinal compromise, Trunk or Treat, Easter egg hunts, Black Friday, fleshly desires and lusts, and much more. When we were purged of our sins by the blood of the Lamb, Jesus Christ the Messiah, we put on clean linens and white garments. We must not flirt with the activities and habits of the people around us. If we do, it is the same as devaluing or taking for granted that blood, and making the pain that caused it to pour forth. It is to be like a pig and, once cleaned, to go back and roll around in the mud. Yes, thank the Lord we are not condemned and we are being sanctified, we are being purified to remove the dross from our lives. But we must be sober-minded, humble, grace-seeking and intentional –since we were made unstained—in remaining unstained. Praise the Lord we have this promise in case we unintentionally sin (1 John 1:9), “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” This promise is for the believer.
If you have found yourself dabbling in this modern type of intermarriage recently, if only for a season, you can and should “make a covenant with our G-d,” as I am doing and as the Word instructs us. Ezra 10:11-12 declares, “Now then make confession to the Lord, the G-d of your fathers, and do His will. SEPARATE YOURSELVES FROM THE PEOPLES OF THE LAND and from the foreign wives.’ Then all the assembly (the church) answered with a loud voice, ‘It is so; we must do as you have said.’”
Praise and give thanks to the Lord of lords and King of kings, Jesus Christ! He is a great high priest who is able to sympathize with our weaknesses, yet without having sinned. Hebrews 4:16 blesses us by sharing, “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” James 1:27b admonishes us “to keep oneself UNSTAINED from the world.” 1 Peter 1:14-15 exclaims, “As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as He who called you is holy, YOU ALSO BE HOLY IN ALL YOUR CONDUCT.” 1Thessalonians 5:22 warns us to “ABSTAIN FROM ALL APPEARANCE OF EVIL.” Are these instructions daunting? Yes. Challenging? Yes. But thanks to the Lord and Messiah Jesus Christ in His declaration to the Christian, the committed follower, that we can do all things through and because of Him and the strength He provides! Finally and again, Ephesians 5:27 exhorts us that He is coming back, and “so that He might present the church (us) to Himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she (us, the church) might be holy and without blemish.”
Maranatha! (Our Lord is coming!)
God bless you with wisdom, grace, discernment, obedience and love. Amen.