Bible Reading and Commentary December 11-16, 2017

Bible Reading and Commentary
December 11-16, 2017

EZRA — The history in the book of Ezra begins in 539 B.C. Cyrus, King of Persia, had captured Babylonia. The Babylonians had previously conquered Judah and led many into captivity. God foretold through the Prophet Jeremiah that after 70 years, Israel would return from captivity. Under Cyrus, the 70 years were up, and God fulfilled His promise. The book of Ezra describes the return of the Jews and rebuilding of the temple at Jerusalem. Ezra, who was a priest, also brought God’s people spiritual reform.

Monday, December 11, Ezra 1
v. 2 — Other historical documents prove that Cyrus was not a Christian, but made donations to all religions. While his motives were political, God used him in a quiet and effective way to bring His people back to Judah. (Cf. Jer. 29:10)

Tuesday, December 12, Ezra 2
v. 64 — The accurate listing of those who returned in vv. 3-64 is a testimony to God’s goodness in preserving the identity of His chosen people in spite of the 70 years in captivity. The purpose of their return is in preparation for God’s sending us the promised Savior about 500 years later.
Vv. 68-69 — Christians, who are grateful to the Lord, produce grateful offerings. The principles of New Testament giving are discussed in I Cor. 16:2 and II Cor. 9:7.

Wednesday, December 13, Ezra 3
v. 12 — What caused the older priests, Levites and family heads to cry was that they remembered the magnificent beauty of Solomon’s temple. The beauty of a church, however, doesn’t strengthen our faith. The most important thing is that the Word and Sacraments are there, and preached and administered in their truth and purity.
v. 13 — “The sound was heard far away” should also be our response to the Lord’s super blessings we enjoy day after day. When that happens, people are drawn to us. They want a part of what instills in us that unsurpassing joy, peace, and happiness found in Jesus, the Rock of our Salvation.

Thursday, December 14, Ezra 4
Vv. 1-3 — The enemies who opposed the building of the temple were Samaritans. They had a mixed religion of heathenism and Old Testament Scriptures. It was for this reason that they were not permitted to help in the building of the temple. God forbids such unionism today, too. Read Rom. 16:17.
Vv. 4-5 — There will always be resistance to the success of God’s kingdom work. Trusting in the Lord, as the Jews did, God will help us succeed with His work as He did with them, in spite of overwhelming odds. Think of Ps. 46 and Hymns 200 and 537.

Friday, December 15, Ezra 5
Vv. 1-2 — After 20 years, to get the work moving on rebuilding the temple, which was halted by King Artaxerxes due to the intervention of the Samaritans, the prophets Haggai and Zechariah encouraged the Jews to rebuild.
v. 3 — While Tattentai, the Persian governor of Trans-Euphrates, (the whole area west of the Euphrates River) challenged their work, he didn’t stop them from rebuilding. He was a fair and conscientious ruler. After looking into the matter, it was found that King Cyrus had given the Jews the right to rebuild the temple. (Chap. 6:1-5)

Saturday, December 16, Ezra 6
Vv. 6-8 — If Tattentai’s investigation had been prompted by the Samaritans, it back-fired. Darius’ orders were that the temple be completed, including financial aid from the government. This whole thing certainly was due to God’s providence and intervention.

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