The people of Israel - These were they who had returned at first with Zerubbabel, and were settled in the land of Judea and whom Ezra found on his arrival to be little better than the Canaanitish nations from whom God had commanded them ever to keep separate.
Abominations - The mixed marriages had prevented that complete separation of the people of God from the idolatrous rites, or “abominations,” which the Law required, and which was necessary for purity of religion. See 1 Kings 11:2 note.
The children of the world are called the children of darkness. They are blinded by the god of this world, and are led by the spirit of the prince of darkness. They cannot enjoy heavenly things. The children of light have their affections set on things above. They leave behind them the things of this world. They fulfill the command: Come out from among them, and be ye separate.” Here is the conditional promise: “I will receive you.” From the beginning, Christ has chosen His people out of the world and required them to be separate, having no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness. If they love God and keep His commandments, they will be far from having the friendship, and loving the pleasures, of the world. There is no concord between Christ and Belial. 1T 279.1
The prophet Ezra, and other faithful servants of the Jewish church, were astonished when the princes came to them saying: “The people of Israel, and the priests, and the Levites, have not separated themselves from the people of the lands, doing according to their abominations.” “And after all that is come upon us for our evil deeds, and for our great trespass, seeing that Thou our God hast punished us less than our iniquities deserve, and hast given us such deliverance as this; should we again break Thy commandments, and join in affinity with the people of these abominations? wouldest not Thou be angry with us till Thou hadst consumed us, so that there should be no remnant nor escaping? O Lord God of Israel, Thou art righteous: for we remain yet escaped, as it is this day: behold, we are before Thee in our trespasses: for we cannot stand before Thee because of this.” Ezra 9:1, 13-15. 1T 279.2
2 Chronicles 36:14-16: “Moreover all the chief of the priests, and the people, transgressed very much after all the abominations of the heathen; and polluted the house of the Lord which He had hallowed in Jerusalem. And the Lord God of their fathers sent to them by His messengers, rising up betimes, and sending; because He had compassion on His people, and on His dwelling place: but they mocked the messengers of God, and despised His words, and misused His prophets, until the wrath of the Lord arose against His people, till there was no remedy.” 1T 280.1Read in context »
It was in the providence of God that those who returned with Ezra had had special seasons of seeking the Lord. The experiences through which they had just passed, on their journey from Babylon, unprotected as they had been by any human power, had taught them rich spiritual lessons. Many had grown strong in faith; and as these mingled with the discouraged and the indifferent in Jerusalem, their influence was a powerful factor in the reform soon afterward instituted. PK 619.1
On the fourth day after the arrival, the treasures of silver and gold, with the vessels for the service of the sanctuary, were delivered by the treasurers into the hands of the temple officers, in the presence of witnesses, and with the utmost exactitude. Every article was examined “by number and by weight.” Ezra 8:34. PK 619.2
The children of the captivity who had returned with Ezra “offered burnt offerings unto the God of Israel” for a sin offering and as a token of their gratitude and thanksgiving for the protection of holy angels during the journey. “And they delivered the king's commissions unto the king's lieutenants, and to the governors on this side the river: and they furthered the people, and the house of God.” Verses 35, 36. PK 619.3Read in context »