Ezra was an Israelite, but he was also a government official. Here he is, throwing sophistication and decorum to the wind as he mourns the sins of his people. All of this has brought a crowd of sympathisers into the arena. What follows is a reminder of the major role of seemingly minor men can play in the Kingdom. Shecaniah admits Israel’s’ guilt – the word he uses is treachery. And yet, he calls for hope. Look at the shape of this hope…
It is not some vague optimism. The hope is looking to is more than wishful thinking. It has substance.
Sustaining hope for Shecaniah means returning to the Covenant God had made with them in repentance. And the repentance is equally clear. They are to put away – separate themselves from – those wives and their children who are outside the Covenant. he road to hope is the hard road of clear cut repentance. Hope is often hard hope. It involves clear observable repentance. Its more than regret. In its proper place, its radical faithfulness to God. Remember the name: Shecaniah. A minor character with a major role in all of this.
As much as we need an Ezra in our church, we need a Shecaniah more so. Its one thing to go about commanding people to repent. Its quite another to pull up along side them and encourage them through the process. Its one thing to sit in church and give our amen to the ministry. Its quite another to pull up along side him and support him with encouragement when the time comes to say a few hard words.
Note here that the reason for the separation was not the ethnicity of the women and children. The separation was necessary because these women would not come into the Covenant. This was not to be a heartless execution of justice. The question s had to do with Covenantal faithfulness.
Verse 2 literally says, “We have broken faith with our God and have married “strange” women. This word – strange – is important and helps us to understand the nature of the investigation. Non-Jewish people had earlier been welcomed, so why not these women? The expression “strange women” means more than foreigner. It refers at times to the pagan and seductive women. The kind of women who will attempt to turn your heart toward another God. (cf. 1 Kings 11:1, 8) This is the same description used of what turned Solomon away from the Lord – Strange Women! So, what might have appeared to be a cold and calculated disregard for life, is actually designed to bring about the process of repentance and separation.
Lessons For little Saints…
- What does the word ‘repent’ mean?
- How would you know if Israel had repented?
- Why were these women sent away?
- What is the book of Ezra all about?