This is nothing less than a purge. So Ezra calls out all the people of the exiles who have made their way into Jerusalem and the surrounding areas and he demands that they give up their foreign wives and their children by their foreign wives. A decree was made that those who did not give up their wives and the children by those wives would be stripped of their property and would be banned from the people of Israel.
Yes, that is really harsh and there is no excusing this proclamation or this action which left the most vulnerable even more vulnerable. But do you understand why this was done? The people of Israel had to have one God and only one God and there could be nothing that got in the way of that God. The sin was primarily the fact that they had married foreign wives in the first place. That sin was then compounded by kicking out the defenseless in order to make up for the sin that they had committed. It is in this instance that we have to see that two wrongs don’t make a right. But it is what was demanded by Ezra, and honestly, it was what God approved of as well in that instance.
Remember, we do read about God who leads His people into battle and doesn’t allow a living soul to be left unscathed. This is important to understand. What we are reading in the Old Testament is not able to be supported today. We cannot just explain it away, but it is the way in which God acted in that time period. I think we can look at Jesus and see that in Him we have our way, our truth and our life. It is only through Jesus that we can get to the Father. It is through Jesus’ life that we see how we are to live as well, which is very different from what we read in these verses.