I was reading one morning in the book of Ezra. It was interesting to me that, upon his arrival in Jerusalem, Ezra recognized something immensely troubling about the people there. He was informed that they had not been faithful to stay within their own people to seek marriages. They had taken “strange wives” from the peoples around them.
I don’t think that this was in any way a matter of race. It was a matter of faith. The people of the surrounding nations were, without exception, pagan – worshipping various idols. This was the issue. The Old Testament law had made it very clear that they should not intermarry with these other nations because of this matter. It wasn’t a matter of genetics – it was a matter of holiness.
Ezra had to do something difficult. He had to stand before the people and call them to turn from these practices unto purity. He called them to “put away the strange wives.” He called them to turn their hearts wholly back to God.
As New Testament believers, I believe there is a much more urgent lesson for us. I believe that, when we look at Ezra’s account, we have to take a hard look at our lives and ask ourselves what kind of “strange wives” there might be. To what things have we married our hearts that we need to put away?
We have to recognize that these things could even be good things that have come between our God and our own hearts. Anything that is more important to us than our relationship with Christ is, in essence, one of these “strange wives.”
I think that’s what we read about in Hebrews 12:1:
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.
So, what would God have us to lay aside today?
What kind of “strange wives” do you have?
Father, please show me today what things I have allowed to come between You and me. Give me the courage to put them away forever.