June 3, 2004
Read Ezra 6 - 7
In Today's Reading:
Darius' decree to complete the Temple; dedication of Temple; Passover
The prophets Haggai and Zechariah reminded the Israelites in Jerusalem that the real reason the Lord's work went unfinished was because their first interest was in building their own homes. These anointed men boldly preached the Word of God and inspired the people to rebuild the Temple: And the elders of the Jews built, and they prospered through the prophesying of Haggai the prophet and Zechariah . . . and finished it, according to the commandment of the God of Israel (Ezra 6:14).
Nothing is recorded about the Jews in Jerusalem between the time of Haggai and Zechariah's ministry and the coming of Ezra from Persia about 60 years later. Zerubbabel, Haggai, and Zechariah had all died leaving the next generation to grow up without spiritual leadership.
Ezra was born during the Babylonian captivity. He was a descendant of Aaron, Israel's first high priest (7:1-5; I Chronicles 6:3-15). The key to Ezra's great effectiveness in accomplishing the will of God is clear: For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek (study) the Law of the LORD, and to do it, and to teach in Israel statutes (laws) and judgments (what God declared is right and wrong) (Ezra 7:10). Note carefully the threefold key to Ezra's great success: Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the Law of the LORD. The word prepared implies a steadfast effort to know all of God's Word. The second qualification for the Lord's blessings upon his life was that Ezra committed himself to do it (obey the Law). And third, he planned to teach its statutes and judgments.
Ezra was committed to seeking, doing, and teaching God's Word. This should be a reminder that, if we want God to bless our lives, we too must set our hearts upon the whole counsel of God. Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith you shall be able to quench
(put out, extinguish) all the fiery darts
(arrows, shots) of the wicked. . . . take . . . the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God
Ezra is an example of how God will use anyone who will take His Word seriously, rightly dividing the Word of Truth (II Timothy 2:15).
Through the Feast of Unleavened Bread (Ezra 6:22). Jesus is the Bread of Life (John 6:35), and He was without sin; leaven is symbolic of sin (Hebrews 4:15).
6:1 house of the rolls = building where records were kept; 6:4 king's house = royal treasury; 6:15 Adar compares with Feb/Mar; 7:21 the river = Euphrates.
Staff: Barbara Bivens · Government Officials: Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (MD), Rep. Ken Bentsen (TX), and Rep. Solomon Ortiz (TX) · Country: Cote d'Ivoire (16 million) in western Africa · Major languages: French and over 60 native dialects · Religious freedom · 40% animist; 25% Muslim; 10% Roman Catholic; 5% Protestant
Prayer Suggestion: Seek the Lord's teaching; grow and mature in your prayer life (Luke 11:1).
Optional Reading: II Corinthians 5
Memory Verse for the Week: John 11:25