“IF WITH CHRIST YOU DIED TO …”
First, on the final chapter in Ezra, we read how he arrived in Jerusalem. We recall how in ch. 7 we read that. “Ezra went up from Babylonia. He was a scribe skilled in the Law …and the king granted him all that he asked, for the hand of the LORD his God was on him.” [v.6] On arrival he learns that many of those who had returned had become corrupt – and today’s final chapter starts by telling us how “Ezra prayed and made confession, weeping …before the house of God”
As the leaders among those who had returned “gathered to him … and … addressed Ezra,” they said, “We have broken faith with our God and have married foreign women …” [v.1,2] Ezra tells them to, “make confession to the LORD, the God of your fathers and do his will. Separate yourselves from the peoples of the land and from the foreign wives.” Then all the assembly answered with a loud voice, “It is so; we must do as you have said.” [v.11,12]
We can a comparison in this to Paul’s challenge to the believers at Colossae who were largely, if not entirely Gentile converts . Paul reminds them they were “once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds” [1 v.21] He then asks them, using that little but significant word “IF.” In 2 v.20 we read, “If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations —”Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch” Then in the last verse, “they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh.”
We are presently reading the dramas of about 500 years ago – and the challenge of Martin Luther about all the regulations and rituals that the R.C. church practiced! We see some comparisons which, in some measure, have continued to today. The break between chapters 2 and 3 is unfortunate, the beginning of ch. 3 poses a challenging question – with another “IF”!
“If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above …. Set your minds on things that are above” This is result “if with Christ” we have genuinely “died to” all the attractions of the fleshly things that surround us day after day. Let us make sure we have.
By Bro D.Caudery
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