Now therefore, let us make a covenant with our God to put away all these wives and those who have been born to them, according to the advice of my master and of those who tremble at the commandment of our God; and let it be done according to the law. Arise, for this matter is your responsibility. We also are with you. Be of good courage, and do it.” Ezra 10:3, 4
Confession and cleansing: 10:1-44. Ezra’s broken-heartedness sparks a revival in others, who join him in weeping and confession. Out of this grows a determination to deal with the matter according to God’s law. The whole nation assembles at Jerusalem, Public confession of sin is made, and foreign wives and children born of them are put away.
10:1 Many people in Israel were concerned about the sin in their midst. So while Ezra wept, prayed, and confessed, these people gathered around him and wept very bitterly.
10:3 Making a covenant with God means binding oneself by an oath to God to do something. It was the most binding form of commitment a person could make.
10:4 Arise: Shechaniah (v.2) reminded Ezra that it was his responsibility to teach Israel the law of God (7:25).
Now therefore, let us make a covenant with our God to put away all these wives and those who have been born to them, according to the advice of my master and of those who tremble at the commandment of our God; and let it be done according to the law. 4 Arise, for this matter is your responsibility. We also are with you. Be of good courage, and do it.”
10 Then Ezra the priest stood up and said to them, “You have transgressed and have taken pagan wives, adding to the guilt of Israel. 11 Now therefore, make confession to the Lord God of your fathers, and do His will; separate yourselves from the peoples of the land, and from the pagan wives.”
10:18-44 The list of those who had taken pagan wives included 113 men; 17 priests, 10 Levites and 86 others.
10:19 They gave their promise may also be translated “they gave their hand.” The symbol of raising a hand to take an oath is still practiced in many cultures. With this sign, the Israelites agreed to put away their unlawful wives and offer a sacrifice according to the requirements of Lev. 5:14-19. Although this promise and sacrifice are mentioned only in connection with the priests, it is likely that everyone on the list fulfilled these requiremets.
10:44 Even though some had children with their pagan wives, they still separated themselves from them.
–> From the worldly standpoint, this action of putting away pagan wives and children wouldn’t make sense and seem cruel. It wouldn’t make sense until we understand what paganism is all about. It is not easy at all to divorce ourselves from pagan practices in our lives especially when we do not have the support of others who gather around us. We will literally “estrange” ourselves from many others who would say we are “too pure.”
But, broken-heartedness, repentance and cleansing brought about the revival. This also happened in Korea in 1907. Pyongyang Revival