Monday, August 7, 2017

August 7: Ezra 5 – 6; Psalm 29; Proverbs 20:26-27; 1 Corinthians 3:5-23



Overview

            Ezra: The prophets Haggai and Zechariah spoke to the Jews so Zerubbabel, Shealtiel, and Jeshua started rebuilding the temple. The governor of the province asked who gave them authority. He took names but they didn’t stop building because God was watching them.
            The governor sent a letter to Darius the king. He explained that the Jews were rebuilding the temple that had been destroyed and the people taken to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar because their fathers had angered God. They claim Cyrus decreed that it be rebuilt and gave back the vessels for the temple, the foundation was laid but it isn’t finished. He asked Darius to search the archives to see if Cyrus really did order it.
            Darius ordered the search and found the order by Cyrus. It also described the size of the temple and that the cost to rebuild it be taken from the royal treasuries. Darius wrote to the governor to keep away from the building project and to supply whatever they need. The cost is to be paid in full from the royal revenue. The governor was also to supply animals and other things needed for the burnt offerings. Whoever alters Darius’ decree shall be impaled and his house torn down. He also asks God to overthrow anyone who tries to stop this or destroy the temple.
            The governor was diligent to help the Jews. The Jews were encouraged by Haggai and Zechariah so they finished the temple in the sixth year of Darius. They dedicated the temple with sin and other offerings. The next month, they celebrated the Passover. All the people of Israel celebrated along with those who had separated themselves from those who worshiped other gods. They were joyful because the Lord caused the king of Assyria to help them.
            Psalm: This Psalm is about giving glory to God. His glory over nature is seen as there are seven descriptions of the voice of the Lord. These echo his word in creation from being over the waters at the beginning of creation to the multiplication of animals on the earth. His glory is also over the floodwaters and that would include Noah’s. He is king forever and it finishes with a benediction to give strength and peace to his people.
            Proverbs: A wise king knows how to separate the wicked from the good and crush the wicked. A man’s spirit is his connection to the Lord where his innermost being is seen.
            1 Corinthians: Paul and Apollos both are God’s workmen and do as God asks. One plants the other waters and God rewards each just as are other Christians. It is God who makes things grow. We are God’s field and building.
            Paul is a master builder and he laid the foundation and others build on it. Each builder should be careful because there is only one foundation and that is Jesus Christ. Someone can build with cheap things or precious things but in the judgment the cheap stuff will be burned up. The builder’s reward will be based on what is left. A person may lose his rewards but not his salvation.
            We are God’s temple and his Spirit lives in us. If anyone destroys God’s temple he will be destroyed because God’s temple is holy.
            Each one should be wise but not in worldly wisdom. Worldly wisdom is foolishness to God. He catches them in their so-called wisdom and know they are futile. So, we should not boast in our human leaders. What all of them have taught is for us and belongs to us and we belong to Jesus and he belongs to God.

What Stood Out

            Ezra: “The cost is to be paid to these men in full and without delay from the royal revenue, the tribute of the province from Beyond the River” (Ezra 6:8).            
            Psalm: “Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness” (Ps 29:2).
            Proverbs: “The spirit of man is the lamp of the Lord, searching all his innermost parts” (Prov 20:27).
            1 Corinthians: “Let each one take care how he builds upon it. For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ” (1 Cor 3:10-11).

Insight

            Ezra: It is hard from this account to determine the time-line of events. Various sources say that Cyrus’ first year was about 600 or 559 BC (it could be two different people with the same name). He reigned about 30 years. Supposedly, work on the temple was ongoing during that time. After Cyrus died, and the administration changed, Rehum, the governor over the Trans-Euphrates (Beyond the River), decided it was time to flex his political muscle and stopped the building by appealing to Artaxerxes by claiming the king would lose revenue (yesterday’s reading). Certainly, these guys hated the Jews, but the bottom line was money. As governor, he was the one in charge of collecting tax and tribute for the king. We didn’t know this before, but the money to build the temple was taken out of his revenue. That became evident in Ezra 6:8. The work was stopped sometime after Cyrus died, most likely very soon.
            After another 8 years, we have a new king, Darius, and a new governor, Tattenai. According to Haggai 1 the Lord told the people to start work on the temple again during Darius’ second year. Tattenai immediately challenged the people and writes to Darius. This time the king isn’t looking at Jerusalem’s history but for Cyrus’ decree which is an unchangeable law according to Esther 8:8.
            God’s sovereignty is seen as the reply comes back from Darius. Not only does Tattenai have to stop hassling the Jews, he has to pay for all of the work out of the treasuries and revenues. That means, he doesn’t get to keep as much. He also has to supply animals to for the offerings. If he doesn’t, the king will make sure he gets impaled on a beam from his own house.
            We may not see the Lord work in such dramatic ways, but we should know that when we wait patiently on the Lord and do what he has told us, we can expect him to clear the hurdles. There might be delays, but we need to remember we are working on God’s timetable, not ours.
            Psalm: We need to ascribe glory to the Lord in all things. One of the important ways to ascribe glory to him is by acknowledging his creation. He has created all things and he continues to be involved day by day, minute by minute, nanosecond by nanosecond. If God stopped being involved in creation for the smallest about of time imaginable, the universe would fly apart, be destroyed, burned up, or cease to exist. Colossians 1:17 says that Jesus is holding it all together. Deists believe that God made the universe then stepped away to let it run by itself. That doesn’t glorify God because the Bible clearly says his voice is still active in nature. Atheists deny God’s glory because they say that miracles can’t be true otherwise God would have to always be making adjustments for them to occur without disrupting the rest of the universe. Hello! That is exactly what God is doing. Let’s glorify God by acknowledging that he didn’t need millions of years to create the universe but did it the way he said in Genesis and that he keeps on controlling it.
            Proverbs: The Lord uses a man’s spirit like a lamp. He looks into the person to see what is there. Our spirit is the connection place between us and God. Paul wrote, “The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God” (Rom 8:16). Before we became Christians, our spirit was dead. We had nothing connecting us with God. When God looked into our heart by that dead spirit, all he saw was that we didn’t seek him, we were corrupt, didn’t do good, and we did evil (Ps 14:2-4). But once we have been born again, he sees his Spirit in us and will guide and direct us. What a great promise we have that God’s Spirit is in us as a guarantee of our eternal life (Eph 1:13-14).
            1 Corinthians: One of the fundamental concepts of Christian ministry is the foundation of Jesus Christ. If we are doing God’s work then we must be building on the foundation of Jesus. Many current churches have fallen away from true Christianity because they build on socialism, liberalism, conservatism, relativism, or some other foundation than Jesus. They may claim Jesus as the foundation but they are using the world’s wisdom to reason what Jesus would do or say today instead of looking what Jesus has said (in the Gospels) and the work of Paul, Peter, James, Jude, John, and the author of Hebrews. They have all built on Jesus and we can build on them.
            When we do Bible studies, we should focus on what the Bible says and not what we want it to say. If we believe what the Bible says, then it should make a difference in how we approach life. We should not be doing that with the world’s wisdom, but the wisdom that is from God.

Application

             I need to have and act on God’s wisdom, which comes from the Bible. When I do, I ascribe glory to God. I build on the foundation of Jesus. I can be confident that what I build will survive judgment.

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