Ezra Was Informed Of Unlawful Marriages
In the Law, Moses specifically forbade Israelites from marrying pagans (Deut. 7:1-8). This is because the idolatrous religions would affect God’s people. Two vivid examples of this are Solomon (1 Kgs. 11:1-8) and Ahab (1 Kgs. 16:29-33). Both were carried away into false religion and had a negative impact on the people over which they ruled.
Ironically, this incident shows Ezra’s teaching was effective. The people brought the transgression to his attention. This indicates they knew the Law, respected the Law, saw the sin, and were willing to act; things about which any teacher would be thrilled.
Ezra Prayed To God About The Sin
Ezra was in deep grief and struck with fear. Thus, he humbled himself before God. He began by saying he was ashamed and goes on to describe the sin as “our iniquities” and the burden as “our guilt” (Ezra 9:6). It was not that Ezra was personally guilty, but the stain of the sin touched more than those personally involved. As a leader, Ezra felt responsible that this was going on. Also, the nation was tainted (cf. Josh. 7:10-26).
In his prayer, Ezra notes several key factors of Israel’s history and relationship to God. 1. Captivity because of past sins (Ezra 9:7). 2. God’s grace in leaving a remnant (Ezra 9:8). 3. Israel’s punishment did not reach the level of their sins (Ezra 9:13).
Ezra Was Encouraged To Take Action
A large group encouraged Ezra to take action. The representative said, “Arise, for this matter is your responsibility. We also are with you. Be of good courage, and do it” (Ezra 10:4). Leaders need the support and encouragement of the people.
The People Determine To Make Correction
At a large assembly on a cold, rainy day, the people consent to put away their pagan wives. The problem existent among a small minority, but the community took responsibility to see that corrective action was taken. Thus, men determined to put away their wives, by which some had children.