And Shechaniah the son of Jehiel, one of the sons of Elam, answered and said unto Ezra, We have trespassed against our God, and have taken strange wives of the people of the land: yet now there is hope in Israel concerning this thing. Now therefore let us make a covenant with our God to put away all the wives, and such as are born of them, according to the counsel of my lord, and of those that tremble at the commandment of our God; and let it be done according to the law.
Men of God, if you want your feelings stroked, stop reading now; continue and you might get your feelings hurt.
For many, Ezra 9 and 10 are problematic. In summary, some of the Jewish men, after returning to Jerusalem from captivity had taken pagan wives, and their sons and daughters had likewise taken pagan spouses. In a nutshell, God directed Ezra to deliver the news that these men were to all put away, or divorce their pagan wives and send them and the children of those unions away. We won’t belabor this issue here, just remember friends that, while God doesn’t change, He may change how he deals with His children at different times in their lives just as any Father might.
What had happened here was extremely serious. It was things like this, among many others, which had been the cause for the exile and captivity in the first place! Full restoration to the Law of God was not going to be possible in the face of such pagan influences in the congregation, and quick decisive action was needed. The tailspin this was going to cause had to be reversed.
There is a little known man in this story who responded in an epic way. Actually, it wasn’t really epic; this is exactly how all men of God should respond when faced with a choice like he had.
The priest Shechaniah, as we can see above, did not hesitate to come on board with God’s plan here; after all, he personally was not guilty of the problem offense. But, wait, there’s more! This man may have not been personally guilty, but a perusal of the genealogy of the offenders at the end of Chapter 10 reveals something interesting; his father and five of his paternal uncle WERE guilty. Ouch, right? This is almost an unimaginable situation, and the pain of standing on God’s Word must have been very real. Yet, Shechaniah did just that
As we covered earlier, this was a situation that was very dangerous. This mixing with the pagan world, and ignoring open, notorious sin and willful rebellion were very dangerous. In fact, there was little doubt that eventually, it would cause the undoing of the nation of Israel yet again. God will NEVER bless rebellion and disobedience. Open sin, rebellion and willful disobedience are like cancer that destroys a congregation from the inside, and decisive often painful treatment is required.
Friends, there is nothing new under the sun. Nothing has changed. Open sin, rebellion and willful disobedience are still like cancer. Today, these things will kill a New Testament church. The patient may linger, as we provide treatments that prolong the illness, but offer no cure. Without the proper, quick and decisive treatment needed, the patient(the church,) will finally die. That’s grim, isn’t it?
It need not be though, friends. When we see this around us what will we do? Will we ignore it, turn our head and pretend nothing is wrong? Worse, will we celebrate it and react with joy? Hey! Awesome sin, way to go! God forbid anybody construes this as some legalistic, judgmental tirade because it is not. Yet, some things are simply wrong, and when we ignore them, the impact is huge. God won’t bless that, we look like hypocrites, and the list goes on.
Where is Shechaniah when we need him? Who will stand with God even when it hurts? Who will stand with God even when it means turning our backs so to speak, on those we love? Who will stand with God even if we have to stand alone? Who will stand with God even when it hurts our pocketbook? This man Shechaniah provided his answer by his actions.
Godly leadership must act; we cannot stick our heads in the sand. When we do, we are more guilty than the offender.
What is OUR answer? We have been warned.