Old Testament reading: Ezra 9-10
“God would never want two people to break up their marriage, especially if kids are involved.” In keeping with the theme of yesterday’s New Testament reading, Ezra 10 records a time of bitter stomach for God’s people. Though joyous over their restoration to Jerusalem, the rebuilding of the temple and observing the Passover, it is discovered that many of the priests had taken wives from among the people whom God had forbidden such. Unsure what to do, Ezra sat devastated until the evening sacrifice. As he was praying, weeping, confessing and bowing before the house of God, a great assembly of Israelites approaches him with the remedy he seeks. Hear their words, “We have transgressed against our God, and have taken pagan wives from the peoples of the land; yet now there is hope in Israel despite this. Now therefore, let us make a covenant with God to put away all these wives and those who have been born to them, according to the advice of my master and of those who tremble at the commandment of our God” (10:2-3). If putting away their wives was not in keeping with God’s will, God would have intervened… He didn’t. Not even in those cases when children were involved (cf 10:44). Why is it that so many refuse to see the lesson here? We cannot continue in any relationship that is not authorized or condemned by Scripture, including an unscriptural marriage.
New Testament reading: Revelation 12-15
The wildly speculated mark and number of the beast are seen in Revelation 13:15-18. In the book of Revelation, numbers are highly symbolic. In Revelation, the number 7 represents perfection, whereas the number 6 represents imperfection. The number 3 is also associated with perfection, and also Deity (eternality). Combining the two marks a “complete and eternal incompleteness.” My opinion is that this number represents the documentation of paying homage to the emperor, a practice implemented shortly after the establishment of the church. Thus, the Imperial cult of Rome is represented as a work of the Devil, who aspires to Deity but shall never attain it. One must remember the identification of this mark was known to those to whom this letter was written. Ascribing such to 20th and 21st century personalities or practices is foolish and unbiblical.