“In those days I also saw Jews who had married women of Ashdod, Ammon, and Moab. And half of their children spoke the language of Ashdod, and could not speak the language of Judah, but spoke according to the language of one or the other people.” Nehemiah 13:23-24
Some people will do anything to get ahead. They’ll quite literally compromise or sacrifice their own happiness or salvation, or that of their family members, if it’s for a financial advantage. And in the end the only excuse they have for the choices they’ve made is, “It was just business.”
In our focus text Nehemiah discovers that Jewish families have intermarried with the families of Ashdod, Ammon, and Moab. Just to make it clearer for everyone that may not be very familiar with ancient Canaanite families and places, the people of Ashdod were Philistines, and the people of Ammon and Moab were the idolatrous descendants of Abraham’s nephew Lot. All three had proven themselves to be enemies of God and his people.
Nehemiah, when he objected to Jews marrying people of other nations, wasn’t attempting to stand in the path of true love. Love and romance had very little to do with most marriages in those days. Neither the bride nor the groom had a lot of choice or control over whom they married. Marriages were often little more than business or political deals between families, and the husbands and wives simply had to make the most they could of a situation about which they had no choice.
This was why Nehemiah’s response was to, once again, call together the heads of the families and remonstrate with them, cursing them, and striking some, and yanking out the hair of others. You can tell he was more than just a little upset about this situation.
The children of many of these marriages didn’t even know the language of the Jews. This tells you that they rarely, if ever, worshipped God at the Temple or anywhere else. It was more probable that they were learning the worship practices of the people whose language they spoke.
It was especially disconcerting that one of the guilty parties was the son of the High Priest of God.
Israel and Judah had been down this road before and it had been spiritually disastrous for them.
Many times when we choose relationships that have very little likelihood of strengthening our walk with God we do so because we don’t really trust our Heavenly Father to know what we need and to provide for those needs. And because we don’t trust him we turn to our own devices to get ahead.
Friends, it’s never “getting ahead” to intentionally compromise your, or a family members, relationship with God. Our security and prosperity: spiritually, financially, and otherwise, are directly dependent upon the providence of God. We need to be doing everything we can to nurture that connection not weaken it. We need to choose trust. It’s the best way to get ahead.