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Ezra 8:21-9:15

Ezra Leads the People in Fasting and Prayer

21 There by the Ahava Canal I gave orders for us all to fast and humble ourselves before our God and to ask him to lead us on our journey and protect us and our children and all our possessions. 22 I would have been ashamed to ask the emperor for a troop of cavalry to guard us from any enemies during our journey, because I had told him that our God blesses everyone who trusts him, but that he is displeased with and punishes anyone who turns away from him. 23 So we fasted and prayed for God to protect us, and he answered our prayers.

The Gifts for the Temple

24 From among the leading priests I chose Sherebiah, Hashabiah, and ten others. 25 Then I weighed out the silver, the gold, and the utensils which the emperor, his advisers and officials, and the people of Israel had given to be used in the Temple, and I gave it to the priests. 26-27 This is what I gave them:

  • silver - 25 tons
  • 100 silver utensils - 150 pounds
  • gold - 7,500 pounds
  • 20 gold bowls - 270 ounces
  • fine bronze bowls, equal in value to gold bowls

28 I said to them, “You are sacred to the Lord, the God of your ancestors, and so are all the silver and gold utensils brought to him as freewill offerings. 29 Guard them carefully until you reach the Temple. There in the priests' rooms weigh them and turn them over to the leaders of the priests and of the Levites, and to the leaders of the people of Israel in Jerusalem.” 30 So the priests and the Levites took charge of the silver, the gold, and the utensils, to take them to the Temple in Jerusalem.

The Return to Jerusalem

31 It was on the twelfth day of the first month that we left the Ahava Canal to go to Jerusalem. Our God was with us and protected us from enemy attacks and from ambush as we traveled. 32 When we reached Jerusalem, we rested three days. 33 Then on the fourth day we went to the Temple, weighed the silver, the gold, and the utensils, and turned them over to Meremoth the priest, son of Uriah. With him were Eleazar son of Phinehas and two Levites, Jozabad son of Jeshua and Noadiah son of Binnui. 34 Everything was counted and weighed, and a complete record was made at the same time.

35 All those who had returned from exile then brought offerings to be burned as sacrifices to the God of Israel. They offered 12 bulls for all Israel, 96 rams, and 77 lambs; they also offered 12 goats to purify themselves from sin. All these animals were burned as sacrifices to the Lord. 36 They also took the document the emperor had given them and gave it to the governors and officials of West-of-Euphrates Province, who then gave their support to the people and the Temple worship.

Ezra Learns of Intermarriages with Non-Jews

After all this had been done, some of the leaders of the people of Israel came and told me that the people, the priests, and the Levites had not kept themselves separate from the people in the neighboring countries of Ammon, Moab, and Egypt or from the Canaanites, Hittites, Perizzites, Jebusites, and Amorites. They were doing the same disgusting things which these people did. Jewish men were marrying foreign women, and so God's holy people had become contaminated. The leaders and officials were the chief offenders. When I heard this, I tore my clothes in despair, tore my hair and my beard, and sat down crushed with grief. I sat there grieving until the time for the evening sacrifice to be offered, and people began to gather around me—all those who were frightened because of what the God of Israel had said about the sins of those who had returned from exile.

When the time came for the evening sacrifice, I got up from where I had been grieving, and still wearing my torn clothes, I knelt in prayer and stretched out my hands to the Lord my God. I said, “O God, I am too ashamed to raise my head in your presence. Our sins pile up higher than our heads; they reach as high as the heavens. From the days of our ancestors until now, we, your people, have sinned greatly. Because of our sins we, our kings, and our priests have fallen into the hands of foreign kings, and we have been slaughtered, robbed, and carried away as prisoners. We have been totally disgraced, as we still are today. Now for a short time, O Lord our God, you have been gracious to us and have let some of us escape from slavery and live in safety in this holy place. You have let us escape from slavery and have given us new life. We were slaves, but you did not leave us in slavery. You made the emperors of Persia favor us and permit us to go on living and to rebuild your Temple, which was in ruins, and to find safety here in Judah and Jerusalem.

10 “But now, O God, what can we say after all that has happened? We have again disobeyed the commands 11 that you gave us through your servants, the prophets. They told us that the land we were going to occupy was an impure land because the people who lived in it filled it from one end to the other with disgusting, filthy actions. 12 They told us that we were never to intermarry with those people and never to help them prosper or succeed if we wanted to enjoy the land and pass it on to our descendants forever. 13 Even after everything that has happened to us in punishment for our sins and wrongs, we know that you, our God, have punished us less than we deserve and have allowed us to survive. 14 Then how can we ignore your commandments again and intermarry with these wicked people? If we do, you will be so angry that you will destroy us completely and let no one survive. 15 Lord God of Israel, you are just, but you have let us survive. We confess our guilt to you; we have no right to come into your presence.”

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1 Corinthians 5

Immorality in the Church

Now, it is actually being said that there is sexual immorality among you so terrible that not even the heathen would be guilty of it. I am told that a man is sleeping with his stepmother! How, then, can you be proud? On the contrary, you should be filled with sadness, and the man who has done such a thing should be expelled from your fellowship. 3-4 And even though I am far away from you in body, still I am there with you in spirit; and as though I were there with you, I have in the name of our Lord Jesus already passed judgment on the man who has done this terrible thing. As you meet together, and I meet with you in my spirit, by the power of our Lord Jesus present with us, you are to hand this man over to Satan for his body to be destroyed, so that his spirit may be saved in the Day of the Lord.

It is not right for you to be proud! You know the saying, “A little bit of yeast makes the whole batch of dough rise.” You must remove the old yeast of sin so that you will be entirely pure. Then you will be like a new batch of dough without any yeast, as indeed I know you actually are. For our Passover Festival is ready, now that Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Let us celebrate our Passover, then, not with bread having the old yeast of sin and wickedness, but with the bread that has no yeast, the bread of purity and truth.

In the letter that I wrote you I told you not to associate with immoral people. 10 Now I did not mean pagans who are immoral or greedy or are thieves, or who worship idols. To avoid them you would have to get out of the world completely. 11 What I meant was that you should not associate with a person who calls himself a believer but is immoral or greedy or worships idols or is a slanderer or a drunkard or a thief. Don't even sit down to eat with such a person.

12-13 After all, it is none of my business to judge outsiders. God will judge them. But should you not judge the members of your own fellowship? As the scripture says, “Remove the evil person from your group.”

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Psalm 31:1-8

A Prayer of Trust in God[a]

31 I come to you, Lord, for protection;
    never let me be defeated.
You are a righteous God;
    save me, I pray!
Hear me! Save me now!
Be my refuge to protect me;
    my defense to save me.

You are my refuge and defense;
    guide me and lead me as you have promised.
Keep me safe from the trap that has been set for me;
    shelter me from danger.
I place myself in your care.
You will save me, Lord;
    you are a faithful God.

You hate those who worship false gods,
    but I trust in you.
I will be glad and rejoice
    because of your constant love.
You see my suffering;
    you know my trouble.
You have not let my enemies capture me;
    you have given me freedom to go where I wish.

Footnotes:

  1. Psalm 31:1 HEBREW TITLE: A psalm by David.
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Proverbs 21:1-2

21 The Lord controls the mind of a king as easily as he directs the course of a stream.

You may think that everything you do is right, but remember that the Lord judges your motives.

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