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"Ye Shall Not Take Their Daughters Unto Your Sons"

(Nehemiah 13:23-31)


Glen Ary

I. Introduction

Carefully chosen comments which some would use to justify marrying a non-Christian, that is, marrying outside of the church of our Lord might be: "John will attend his church and I'll go to mine."; "We'll work it all out in time."; "We truly love each other and love conquers all!"; "Love will show us the way!" All of the thrill and enchanting ecstasy of loving and being loved as a young adult minimises the desire to listen to God through His word speak about dating and choosing your marriage partner. "Love is not just two people looking at each other, but two people looking in the same direction at life!" A person enlightened by this experience once said, "Love is blind, but marriage is a real eye opener!"

Young men and women are going to parents, brethren, and Christian counsellors with broken marriages saying, "Why didn't you tell me to marry only in the Lord? I would never have dreamed we would have so many differences." Marriage in the light of the Bible is a relationship that patterns itself by the union between Christ and His church (Eph. 5: 23-33). Just as an unbeliever cannot be part of the church (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:47), so the uniting of believer with unbeliever should be unthinkable. The time to deal with this marriage subject is BEFORE the marriage takes place.

II. Charges, Choices, Consequences

1. Charges.

Following their release from Babylonian captivity, Nehemiah leads the children of Israel with the words "Let us rise up and build" the wall of Jerusalem (Nehemiah 2:17-18). Nehemiah begins this cause in the face of laughter, ridicule and the scorn of others. Nevertheless, he professes his faith in God with the words, "The God of heaven, he will prosper us; therefore we his servants will arise and build: but ye have no portion, nor right, nor memorial, in Jerusalem" (Nehemiah 2:19-20). The wall of Jerusalem is finished, Nehemiah 6:15. All of the people gathered together to hear the word of God and stood reverently as it was read by Ezra (Nehemiah 8:1-6). They continue to stand, as they are all taught by the priests to understand the reading, and all the people wept when they heard the words of the law (Nehemiah 8:7-9). All of the people entered into worship as commanded by the law - to participate in the feast of tabernacles. Their observance and fellowship had not been so great since the days of Joshua. There was very great gladness (Nehemiah 8: 13-17). Ezra read the law of God for 7 days. On this 8th day of worship, in addition to more reading of the law, the children of Israel separated themselves from all strangers, confessed their sins and worshipped the Lord their God (Nehemiah 8:18-9:3). The priests stand and command all of the congregation to stand. The priests then proclaim with a loud voice all the blessings of the glorious Lord, their God. They commence with the presentation of a covenant (Nehemiah 9: 4-38). Then they every one, having knowledge and understanding of the law of God, joined to their brethren and made the covenant to walk in God's law, to observe and do all the commandments of the Lord their God, and His judgements and His statutes, AND that they "would not give our daughters unto the people of the land, nor take their daughters for our sons" (Nehemiah 10: 28-30). No doubt, Ezra had read the law of God in Deuteronomy 7:1-16 to all the people during this time.

2. Choices.

The Jews were now in a renewed covenant of their own with God. Of course they also resided as well as in a covenant relationship with God as His chosen people (Jeremiah 31:31-34). The Jews chose to marry wives of Ashdod (a segment of Philistines in the land of Canaan, Joshua 13:3), of Ammon (the descendants of Benammi, a son of Lot, Genesis 19:38) and of Moab (the descendants of Moab, a son of Lot, Genesis 19: 37), Nehemiah 13: 23. Therefore, these Jews chose to marry outside of their own congregation and chose to break the commandment of God.

God made Solomon king over all Israel. Among many nations was there no king like him who was beloved of his God. Yet, even Solomon chose to marry hundreds of wives outside of the Israelite congregation and chose to disobey the commandment of God (Nehemiah 13: 26; I Kings 11:1-11). A grandson of Eliashib, the high priest, chose to marry a daughter of Sanballat the Horonite, thereby defiling the priesthood (Nehemiah 13: 28-29).

3. Consequences.

The Jews were told by Nehemiah that they had done great evil and had transgressed against God by marrying the strange wives (Nehemiah 13: 27). Nehemiah took matters into his own hands realising the wrath of God at hand over this situation. He made these to swear "Ye shall not give your daughters unto their sons, nor take their daughters unto your sons, or for yourselves" (Nehemiah 13: 25). Nehemiah cleansed the Jews and the priests from all strangers (Nehemiah13: 30). In Nehemiah's day, this would have involved putting away the wives and the children (Ezra10:1-5).

God said to Solomon, "Forasmuch as this is done of thee, and thou hast not kept my covenant and my statutes, which I have commanded thee, I will surely rend the kingdom from thee, and will give it to thy servant" (I Kings 11:11). Solomon's backsliding came as a direct result of his marriage to women outside of the Lord God. Since these wives did not rise to a life of faith, Solomon bowed to a life of unbelief and compromise. Either of these positions will cause you to lose your soul!

III. Conclusion

Marriage is the closest union that exists between a man and a woman. A marriage is therefore built on a dangerous foundation when there is a lack of general agreement regarding Godly fundamentals of life and scriptural applications. This subject has been discussed using passages primarily from the Old Testament. The conclusion reached is just too clear for any misunderstanding to prevail. God was absolutely against the intermarriage of His covenant people with the people about them. Has God changed His mind for the Christian dispensation about intermarriage of His people outside the church? Does God now allow such marriages with His complete endorsement and approval? Are such marriages now a matter that is left to our own judgement?

Two verses from the apostle Paul gives us the true New Testament perspective of this subject as it relates to the Old Testament. Romans 15:4 reads, "For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope", and I Corinthians 10:11 states, "Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come." "For our learning" means for our teaching or instruction. "For our admonition" denotes the fact that we should not confide in our own strength. "The end of the ages" refers to the Christian dispensation because it is the last and final age (I John 2:18; I Peter 4:7). The Old Testament is therefore useful today for illustrating and enforcing the proper obedience towards the Lord God.

The Israelites were commanded by God and then forced to break up their marriages with those outside of their congregation. This action is not required in the New Testament. The marriage must continue or other Scriptures will be violated, such as Matthew 5:32; Matthew 19:7-9; I Corinthians 7:10-15.

Finally, consider I Corinthians 7:39, "The wife is bound by the law as long as her husband liveth; but if her husband be dead, she is at liberty to be married to whom she will; only in the Lord." If it is wrong for a Christian widow to marry a man who is not a Christian, why is it not wrong also for a young Christian woman to marry a man who is not a Christian? Certainly it is scriptural that the Christian should seek to choose a lifetime companion who loves the same Lord and is a member of the same church or body of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.

Marry a Christian! Keep your dating and marriage spiritual. A few who marry out of the Lord convert their spouse - an overwhelming majority do not. Do not count on converting them after marriage - see whether they will obey the gospel and walk in the light before you marry! Marry someone who desires to be a faithful, active member of the Lord's church who will help you and your children go to Heaven!!!


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