by Ted Kyle
“Then the children of Israel who had returned from the captivity ate together with all who had separated themselves from the filth of the nations of the land in order to seek the Lord God of Israel” (Ezra 6:21-nkjv).
This text is from the description of the Children of Israel celebrating the completion of the Second Temple, back in the land from which God had exiled them for corruption and disobedience. They celebrated, very fittingly, by observing the Passover.
The Passover, so vital a reminder to the Jews of their miraculous deliverance from God’s curse upon Egypt for its failure to let His people go, is also rich with symbolism and meaning for Christians—for does not the Bible declare in 1 Corinthians 5:7 that Christ is our Passover?
Indeed, He is a far greater Passover, for whereas the first Passover shielded only from physical death, and its effect was temporal, Jesus’ Passover shields us from spiritual death, and its effect is eternal.
And what was required of those who would share in the Passover celebration? That they come with clean hearts to the table. This meant much more than merely observing the procedures for ritual cleansing: it meant separating themselves “from the filth of the nations”!
What, then, does God ask of those who would partake of His greater Passover—finding life by entering into the death of His Son? Separation! “Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing, and I will receive you, and will be a father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty” (2 Cor. 6:17).
Again, Scripture bids us “Be not unequally yoked together with unbelievers” (2 Cor. 6:14). While this certainly points to the marriage relationship, it is not limited to marriage. It applies equally to any relationship in which we feel a bond—whether family, business, or friendship. We are never to feel ourselves bound to follow a path of sin because someone else expects us to.
A tragic example and clear warning of the dangers of unequal yoking is found in 1 Kings 11:4,5, which tell us that after King Solomon “loved many strange women…” (v. 1), “it came to pass, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned away his heart after other gods, and his heart was not perfect with the Lord his God…For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Zidonians and after Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites.” Oh, how we need to watch our heart!
Who is the exemplar we are to follow? “For such a high priest (Jesus) became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens…” (Heb. 7:26).
But, someone will say, surely our Lord ate with sinners and communed with sinners!” Most assuredly! But note carefully that He did not participate in their sin, nor did He wink at their sin—nor laugh at coarse or off-color jokes. Always, He lifted the conversation to His plane, rather than stooping to theirs. He used stories (parables) of field and hearth to open to them spiritual truths. And in all this He is our exemplar!
If you yearn for God to bless your ministry, touch not the unclean thing!