Click here for today’s reading http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Ezra%204-6&version=NIV
There is a LOT going on in today’s reading none the least of which is God’s love and dedication to HIS people, the struggles that HIS people had by simply trying to follow HIS will, and the character of God. The book of Ezra opens in 538 BC, 48 years after King Nebuchadnezzar destroyed Jerusalem. We read very familiar names along the way…Jeremiah, Haggai, Zechariah, Cyrus, ….and the list goes on. God gave HIS people explicit instructions to rebuild the Temple and they did as the Lord asked, but they were met with lies, deceit, discouragement, fear, and more which caused at least a 15 year delay in building the Temple. SO… in case you desire to simply say these chapters are about the rebuilding of the Temple. STOP…think about your life (and I’m doing the same with mine). Think about the times you KNOW God has told you to do something but everything you can possibly imagine gets thrown in your way….so much so that you stop to re-evaluate if you heard HIM right. (Am I right??) Today’s chapters show us in detail how the enemy is alive and well and will do ANYthing to lie to us, confuse us, cause fear, and take us off the right path. So read closely….I would LOVE to hear how God spoke to you today.
Let me just say that as wonderful a read as today’s Scripture was….you may have found it a bit confusing like I did. I had to reread it a few times. The thing I had to continually remind myself of was that these three chapters were written a bit out of order. We will take it one chapter at a time plus I thought giving you a little detail on the 4 Persian Kings who ruled in Ezra’s day might be helpful. Here are the 4 Persian Kings:
- Cyrus, we are familiar with him because he is the one that made the decree to free the Jews. He sent Zerubbabel to Jerusalem, funded the project, and returned all the treasure to the Holy Land that Nebuchadnezzar had so rudely taken and used. Cyrus was the one mentioned in Isaiah. He reigned from 559-530 B.C.
- Darius, Supported the construction of the temple. He reigned from 522-486 BC.
- Xerxes also called Ahasuerus, (Esther’s husband) allowed the Jews to protect themselves. He reigned from 486-465 BC.
- Artaxerxes (Nehemiah was this king’s cupbearer) reigned from 465-424 BC. He allowed Ezra and Nehemiah to return to Jerusalem.
Isn’t it wonderful to see how God used people who did not believe in HIM alone (they just added HIM to their list of gods…..ummmm………never a good idea!!) Yet…. God used each of them!!!
CHAPTER 4 – The FIRST thing we read is that “the enemies of Judah and Benjamin heard that the exiles were building a temple for the lord, the God of Israel, they came ….and said let us help you.” Right out of the starting gate they have opposition. We know from 2 Timothy 3:12 that all believers can EXPECT opposition!! Discouragement and fear began to work on the people. We can also see that the love for money has always motivated decisions. The temple stopped construction for 15 years here!!! OYE VAY!! BUT God was watching over them. God was in control of and watching out for HIS REMNANT!! It is also interesting that records and letters were thoroughly searched and researched before ANY king gave the order to cease or begin the building of the Temple!! Hummmmmm….. I wonder if that is a message to us today? A message letting us know that we are to research the Word, pray to God, and KNOW His Word before we simply flit off to do our own things. Time spent with God is never a waste of time and the more we KNOW HIM, the more difficult it becomes for the enemy to take us off track. In “little” things….our enemy wants us to believe that we are not special and we are way too messed up for Jesus to love. BUT if we KNOW God’s Word, we KNOW these things are nothing but lies and in direct opposition to God’s Word.
CHAPTERS 5 and 6 — King Darius supported the temple construction and God used the prophets Haggai and Zechariah (Haggai will be our next read) as instruments to give the message from the Lord. The temple was completed at the time the Feast of Unleavened Bread would be celebrated. How fitting! This feast was to remember Israel’s deliverance from Egypt in the Exodus. God has now fully delivered them from Babylon. This feast was/is better known as the Passover Feast. It is the last feast Jesus had with his disciples before HIS death and RESURRECTION. The feast before our Easter!! The feast to celebrate OUR DELIVERANCE from eternal death and damnation. WOW!!
Don’t you just love how ALL the pieces fit so well as the Master puts them all together.
Sharing HIS love,
Click here for today’s reading http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Isaiah%2044-48&version=NIV
WOW!!! That seemed like a long read, maybe it was because there was SO much that touched me…..and it was packed full! PLEASE pray that the Lord guide you in today’s reading (actually it is helpful to do it everyday) so you are able to focus on EXACTLY what HE desires you to focus on. My prayer is for HIS Word to help each one of us to become more and more transformed into HIS image through HIS Word ((Romans 12:1-2.) I also pray that each of us KNOW the Lord on a deeper level, know more of HIS character, and KNOW HIS desire for our individual lives. Crawl up into the lap of our Abba Father and ask HIM to lovingly reveal the treasures HE has for you today.
CHAPTER 44 — The first thing we read is a reminder to NOT be afraid. God KNOWS our nature and how easy it is for us to fear (fear/awe of God is good…fear of ANYthing else is NOT because when we fear our focus is OFF of our Lord…and this is what HE begins with!! Ahhhhhhhh!!!
Verse 2 says: “This is what The Lord said HE who made you, who formed you in the womb, and WHO WILL HELP YOU: Do not be afraid, Jacob, my servant…”
The verses 3-4 is the Promise of the HOLY SPIRIT!!! WOW!!!!
“For I will pour water on the thirsty land,
and streams on the dry ground;
I will pour out my Spirit on your offspring,
and my blessing on your descendants. They will spring up like grass in a meadow,
like poplar trees by flowing streams.
One will say, ‘I belong to the LORD ‘;
another will call himself by the name of Jacob;
still another will write on his hand, ‘The LORD’s,’
and will take the name Israel.”
I don’t know why I am continually amazed at the accuracy of Isaiah’s Prophecy…..but I am …each time I read it….I find the Prophecy and detail of the captivity remarkable. BUT God did not stop there!!! He added PROOF to HIS Words through the prophet Isaiah…. God GAVE the name of the GENTILE King that would release HIS people from captivity…..King Cyrus!!!
God through Isaiah reminds us “THERE IS NONE LIKE HIM!!” (Oh so TRUE!!!) Then in verse 9, we are reminded: “All who make idols are nothing, and the things they treasure are worthless.” OUCH!!! So, what is an idol? An idol is ANYthing we worship, put our trust in, other than GOD. What is idolatry? http://www.merriamwebster.com defines it as: “the worship of a physical object as a god; or immoderate attachment or devotion to something.” So, the bottom line is an idol can be ANYTHING we worship, pray to, pray with, keep our focus on in times of stress or joy, allow to comfort us other than GOD. You have seen what God says about people who worship idols just in the Scripture I quoted from Isaiah today (and we have read it all through the Bible.) It could be another person, a place, a “saint”, a wooden carving, a necklace, a statue, a talisman, a job, a career, money, food, alcohol, drugs, things, possessions, horoscope books, books about witchcraft and mediums, the opinions of others, and the list goes on and on. We are to build NO shrine to to them, have no souvenir of them, never bowing down to them, or keeping carved imaged of them. IF WE PUT OUT TRUST IN ANYTHING OR ANYONE OTHER THAN THE ONE TRUE GOD, GOD IS DEEPLY GRIEVED BY OUR ACTIONS. HE IS THE ONLY one who can hear our prayers. HE IS THE ONLY SAVIOR!! A statue of Buddha, a picture of Mohamed, a red bracelet for Kabbala, totems, carvings of gods to bring money, prosperity, luck, and the list goes on and on …are ALL idols. WHY???? Because they take JESUS OFF the cross…and EVERYthing happened ON the cross….Jesus died there and because of HIS death…HE ROSE again. Because of HIS death HE ransomed US. Because of HIS death HE redeemed us and cleansed us by HIS PURE BLOOD. HE is the ONLY God to rise from the dead and offer HOPE to all who believe in HIM. Ask God to show you if you have idols in your heart and life, then ask HIS help in destroying them so He is first and HE is the ONLY ONE on the throne in your life.
Incase you are interested in reading more on idols from a Christian perspective there is a book by Timothy Keller called “Counterfeit Gods” that is a real eye opener.
It REALLY is all about MORE of HIM and LESS of ME. So where is your focus? Idols are not necessarily obvious to anyone else (once our eyes have been opened.) Which again is why HIS Word is SO important to read and know. “TURN YOUR EYES UPON JESUS….LOOK FULL IN HIS WONDERFUL FACE….”
There is a LOT in today’s reading so if you have any questions….feel free to ask. If I don’t know the answers…I’ll do all I can to find them.
Sharing HIS love,