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It Matters Whom You Marry

Rev. Enoch Thompson | December 29, 2023 | Nehemiah 10:30



KEY VERSE:

"We promise not to give our daughters in marriage to the peoples around us or take their daughters for our sons.” Nehemiah 10:30 (NIV)

 

MESSAGE:

When people think they are in love they tend to conclude that nothing else matters, except the way they feel. Yet marriage between people of different faiths and convictions is one of the most effective recipes for domestic discord and marital challenges. The first element in the commitment that the Israelites in our text made to forestall the spiritual sanctity, safety and material welfare of their nation emanating from the national covenant with God was, "We promise not to give our daughters in marriage to the peoples around us or take their daughters for our sons.” Nehemiah 10:30 (NIV).

 

Throughout the history of Israel God gave several rules concerning marriage for the general Jewish community and specific laws for those who served as priests. One very important rule that emerges from these is that God forbade the Jews from intermarrying the neighbouring peoples. This was for various reasons; keeping intact the identity of the nation, keeping land allotments within the clans to whom lands were given and preventing the idolatry of the surrounding Canaanite nations from affecting and influencing the purity of the Jewish religion.

 

One of the challenges to Solomon’s rule was that he married many foreign women who turned his heart to the idols of their nations. Samson lost his divinely given power to defeat the enemies of Israel and fell into the hands of the Philistines who mocked him, because of his involvement with non-Jewish women.

 

In the New Testament, it is clear that it matters whom believers married. “¹⁴ Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? ¹⁵ What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? ¹⁶What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God.” 2 Cor 6:14-16 (NIV).

 

Where first-generation Christians are already married to unconverted individuals the Bible offers a logical and reasonable arrangement: ¹² To the rest I say this (I, not the Lord): If any brother has a wife who is not a believer and she is willing to live with him, he must not divorce her. ¹³ And if a woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is willing to live with her, she must not divorce him. ¹⁵ But if the unbeliever leaves, let him do so. A believing man or woman is not bound in such circumstances; God has called us to live in peace.” 1 Cor 7:12, 13, 15 (NIV). Let’s remember, that the person we choose to marry shapes our lives and influences our spiritual growth.

 

FEET AND HANDS FOR THE MESSAGE:

It matters whom you marry. If you are yet to choose your life partner, you must concern yourself with this question, “Is the person I am thinking of getting involved with a Christ-follower?” Certainly, the person must be a natural male or female of the opposite sex and must show evidence of a responsible view of life, but the answer to the above question must be “YES,” otherwise marriage to such a one is a “NO.”

PRAYER:

Father in Heaven, thank you for the institution of marriage, and your rules to make it work better. Please guide single Christians who are yet to get married to make choices that conform to your demands.

May Christians who find themselves in marriage to non-Christians receive the grace to manage their marriages in such a way that they will use their godliness to bring their spouses to faith in Christ.

In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

THERE SHALL BE SHOWERS OF BLESSING.

SHOWERS! BLESSINGS!!

 

DAILY word study: IN MARRIAGE The Hebrew phrase for "IN MARRIAGE" in Nehemiah 10:30 is "לְהוֹסִיף בְּנוֹתֵינוּ לְכָל־עַמֵּי הָאָרֶץ" (lehosif b'noteinu lekhol-ammei ha'aretz). It translates to "to add our daughters to the peoples of the land."


The phrase reflects a commitment to honour the commandments of God regarding intermarriage. It signifies a determination to keep the community distinct and set apart for the worship and service of God.


By pledging not to give their daughters in marriage to the surrounding nations, the community expresses a commitment to preserving its unique identity and faith. This commitment was rooted in the understanding that such marriages might lead to the adoption of foreign gods and practices.

The commitment "not to give our daughters in marriage to the peoples around us" prompts reflection on the importance of preserving our spiritual and cultural identity. In the context of the covenant community, it signifies a dedication to maintaining a distinct and faithful witness to God. This commitment challenges us to evaluate our relationships and choices, encouraging us to align them with the values and principles of our faith. It invites us to consider how we can be a distinct and faithful community in the midst of a diverse and sometimes conflicting world.


Let us be inspired by the pledge of the Israelites in Nehemiah 10:30 to live with purpose and integrity, preserving our identity as children of God.


Reflections:

Considering this commitment, we may reflect on our own lives and communities:

- How do we maintain our identity as followers of God in a world with diverse values and beliefs?

- In what ways can we ensure that our choices and relationships align with our commitment to God's commandments?

- Are there areas in our lives where we might compromise our spiritual identity, and how can we guard against such compromises?


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