Read Ezra 6 -- 7
In Today's Reading:
Darius' decree to complete the Temple; dedication of Temple; Passover restored; Ezra goes to Jerusalem; Artaxerxes gives favorable commission to Ezra.
Verses for Today:
The children of the captivity kept the Passover. . . . For the priests and the Levites were purified together, all of them were pure, and killed the Passover for all the children of the captivity. . . . And the children of Israel, which were come again out of captivity, and all such as had separated themselves unto them from the filthiness of the heathen of the land, to seek the Lord God of Israel, did eat (6:19-21).
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 men of God preached the Word of God and inspired the people to rebuild the Temple: [So] the elders of the Jews [built], and they prospered through the prophesying of Haggai the prophet and Zechariah, (and the Temple was finished in less than five years) according to the commandment of the God of Israel (Haggai 1:15 comp. Ezra 6:14-15). This was about 21 years after Zerubbabel and his followers first arrived in Jersusalem.
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 died by Ezra's time and another generation had grown 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; 1 Chronicles 6:3-15). The key to Ezra's great effectiveness in accomplishing the will of God is threefold: Ezra prepared his heart to seek the Law of the Lord. The word seek implies a determined effort to know all of God's Word. The second qualification for the Lord's great blessing upon Ezra was that he committed himself to do the Law. And third, he was committed to teach in Israel statutes and judgments (Ezra 7:10).
This means that Ezra planned to teach the whole Law, not just a few popular promises that he felt would appeal to the people. Ezra's first concern was to prepare his heart. This was the key to the blessing of God upon Ezra and the key to his ability to overcome the spiritual indifference that had developed in Jerusalem. We are reminded three times that the hand of the Lord was upon Ezra (7:6,9,28).
Ezra was committed to doing and teaching the Word of God. Note that his study of Scriptures wasn't simply to prepare his next lesson or sermon. This is a reminder that, if we want God to bless our lives or our ministries, then we too must set our hearts upon the whole counsel of God -- the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God (Ephesians 6:17).
Ezra is an example of how God will use anyone who will take His Word seriously. Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman . . . rightly dividing the Word of Truth (2 Timothy 2:15).
Through the Feast of Unleavened Bread (Ezra 6:22). Jesus said: I am the Bread of Life (John 6:35), and He was without sin (leaven) (Hebrews 4:15).
6:1 house of the rolls = where records were kept; 6:4 king's house = royal treasury; 6:15 Adar compares with Feb/Mar; 7:21 the river = Euphrates.
Government Officials: Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (MD), Rep. Ken Bentsen (TX), and Rep. Solomon Ortiz (TX) · Pray for the missionary ministries · Country: Guinea (8 million) on the Atlantic coast of western Africa · Major languages: French and tribal languages · Freedom for nationals, but strict limitations on missionaries · 83% Muslim; 12% tribal religions; 4% Roman Catholic; .6% Protestant · Prayer Suggestion: Trust in the Lord and wait upon Him in your prayers, for He will hear you (Micah 7:7).
Optional Reading: 2 Corinthians 5
Memory Verse for the Week: 2 Timothy 2:15