The One Year Devo

September 17

EZRA 9:1-10:44; NEHEMIAH 1:1-2:20

There is no place for racism in the church or in our hearts. This is clear from Scripture, and from God's heart for all nations, and yet at times Christians have tried to find rationalization for racism and prejudice in the Bible. You can especially see this heartbreaking reality in supposed Biblical arguments that were made by the South during the American Civil War.

I would guess that one of the passages that may have been offered up as support for prejudice is the end of Ezra. Ezra condemns the Israelites for intermarrying with neighboring peoples. Is this somehow a command against interracial marriage? The answer is clearly no.

God's concern was always for the spiritual condition of who someone marries and not their ethnicity. This passage condemns the Israelites for marrying people who committed "detestable practices." In the Old Testament God included people in Israel who were not ethnically Jews like Rahab and Ruth (both women in the line of Jesus). So it was never about ethnicity but about hearts for God.

We see this same position in the New Testament when we are told not to be unequally yoked to someone.The person we marry has a powerful influence on us, so we need to make sure that they are someone with a heart for God. If they're not, then we need to continue to pray for them, and remain married to them (see 1 Corinthians 7), but if we're not married then we should not pursue marriage with them. God's heart is for his church to be made up of people from all ethnicities and nations, and for us to speak out against racism in all its forms.

Father God, help me to love all people. Give me your heart for those who look and think differently than me, and use me to communicate your love and hope to everyone. Amen.

Question: How can you ensure that you are intentionally loving all people?

Posted by Derek Newbery at 03:00