If you have ever read the book of Ezra, you may remember his confrontation with some of the Israelites who had intermarried with foreign nations. Even if we didn’t know about the laws God had given His people regarding taking foreign spouses, we could tell what a serious sin this was based on Ezra’s reaction: ripped the clothes off his body, and pulled out the hair of his head and beard in frustration over it! You may have also
been amazed at the subsequent response of the Israelites who decided put away their foreign spouses and children after realizing their sin – an extreme example of devotion to God’s will.
In the book of Nehemiah, we find Nehemiah facing the very same problem Ezra faced. In Nehemiah 13:23, Nehemiah records that some Jews had intermarried with the nations of Moab and Ammon. Then in verse 24, he says “And half of their children spoke the language of Ashdod, and could not speak the language
of Judah…” (Ashdod being a false god of Moab and Ammon). Now possibly some of the Israelite children could speak Hebrew, but obviously some spoke no Hebrew at all; however, the point was, whichever the case,that their children were speaking the language of a foreign nation – an indication of with what they were most
familiar. Truly it was a shame and a disgrace for the Israelites! Then notice what Nehemiah does in verse 25: this time, other people are the victims of hair pulling, as he also curses and hits them! He reminds them of King Solomon’s mistake in marrying foreign women, pointing out the great evil in such a transgression of God’s law.
Once again, Israel had a painful lesson to learn!
What about us today? Do our children speak the “language of Ashdod” (of the world), or do they speak the language of Christianity? Do we ourselves try to speak the world’s language? John tells us in I John 2:15,”Do not love the world or the things in the world…”. Many of us attempt to “straddle the fence” – we want to live with one foot in the world, and one in Christianity. But Jesus makes it plain in Matthew 6:24, “No one can serve two masters…You cannot serve God and mammon.” Is the kind of example we set before our children, or others, one which teaches them to be of the world, or of Christ? Do our children or ourselves know more about math, science, or current events than about God’s Word? Though these things are important in certain realms,
oftentimes unfortunately our knowledge of the Bible pales in comparison to our knowledge of other subjects. What does this say of us – what appears most important to us in such a case? It seems that we have taken it upon ourselves to prove the Lord wrong when He said in Luke 16:8, “…For the sons of this world are more shrewd
in their generation than the sons of light.” Again, though we obviously must live in this world and possess some of its knowledge, this does not mean we must be OF the world, or become too well-versed in its language (II Corinthians 6:17). Many times we place more emphasis on business/job success than on Christian success. We must be careful that our behavior does not communicate to our children, others around us, or even our own selves that anything is more important than our service to God. The same thing applies to what/where most of our time is devoted – 3 hours a week in church services will not “cut it”! Being a Christian is a constant effort. Trying to live a double standard (straddling that fence) is a no-win situation – it’s hypocritical!
Let’s be certain we do not allow our children or ourselves to become bilingual – trying to speak the world’s language and the Christian language. It cannot be done! The only way to control this is to do just as Jesus said in Matthew 6:33, “But seek first the kingdom of God…”. Speaking in English and French, Spanish, German, etc. is truly an admirable talent. But in the spiritual sense, let’s not become too learned in speaking more than one “language”!