Today’s (Fr 04/08/2017) FDR is Ezra 10 and Matthew 22:1-14
As we open the last chapter of Ezra we are struck by Ezra being in a confessional mode. For something serious enough to again remove the Israel nation from its earthly home and worship place. Israel could again loose Jerusalem, Judah and the Temple! Ezra 9 disclosed this sin.
The banishment to Babylon came after God’s judgement on a people who had filled their land with abhorrent practices. Their guilt for accepting this judgement is finally accepted by Daniel. (See Daniel’s prayer at Dan 9:4-19.)
Like other Old Testament leaders such as Josiah, Mordecai and Esther and Jehoshaphat, Ezra adopts an attitude of confession and prayer while seeking to make right what is wrong.
Moses tells us in Deuteronomy 30:19 what use the Law is before God. “9 This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live.”
Even today the law has the same purpose. Martin Luther too, gave this strong argument based on the same Deuteronomy passage: “… that by the words of the law, man is admonished and taught, not what he can do, but that what he ought to do; that is, that he may know his sin, not that he may believe that he has any strength.”
Then Ezra’s people, lead by their leaders, agree to a way to set themselves right before God and they spend a number of months carefully going about rectifying the abhorrent practices so that they may walk in God’s paths of righteousness.
Sending away their wives who were taken from other non-God fearing peoples and their children was a practice we would find very difficult in today’s post resurrection age. Essentially, Ezra and his people are removing those who would not believe from among the tribes of Israel. Here a cleansing of God’s people is being undertaken.
This passage too is about conviction and choice. Choice to obey or not.
As the King sends out his servants to bring in guests, each time he is refused. Each time his royal invitation is disobeyed. So each time the King makes a more generous invitation to those less likely by earthly standards to be invited.
Jesus’ parable mimics His own work among us. Even after the wedding celebration is filled the King finds those who did not respond correctly to his invitation and this person is bound and cast out of the wedding. Here are echoes of Jesus’ parable about the sheep and the goats and the sorting out of the ‘faithful’ at judgement time by removing those who mimic the sheep of Jesus. (see Matthew 25:31-46)
John 1:12-13 makes it clear why there is only one way to become and remain a sheep in Jesus’ flock, or a member of His church.
12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God – 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.
May each one of us walk prayerfully and carefully in the paths of our Lord Jesus Christ and encourage and support our sisters and brothers to remain faithful.