Reading #1 – John 19
Reading #2 – Psalms 110
Reading #3 – Proverbs 14
Reading #4 – Jeremiah 23
Reading #5 – Ezra 1
Ezra 1 – Proclamation of Cyrus the King of Persia. At this juncture in time, Babylon had fallen to the Medes and Persians according to the prophetic dream of Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 2:31-39). Jeremiah prophecied of Jerusalem being rebuilt following the fall of Babylon (Jeremiah 33:5-9). The part that is not mentioned in Ezra’s scroll is exactly how or why did Cyrus’s heart was moved to rebuild the Temple and the walls of Jerusalem just that he did issue it and had it recorded in the history of his reign (Ezra 1:2). There is a part about prophecy is that it can be false and that it can be self-fulfilled. The way I would consider these events is that for Cyrus to even consider such a monumental and generous offer, there had to be an impetus and, usually, it comes because the event is seen as important more by the actions than by any poll or protest could ever do. I searched for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand in the gap before Me for [the sake of] the land, that I would not destroy it, but I found no one [not even one]. Therefore I have poured out My indignation on them; I have consumed them with the fire of My wrath; I have repaid their way [by bringing it] upon their heads,” says the Lord GOD (Ezekiel 22:30-31). When something or someone is considered of “no importance” it eventually fades away, sort of like our US rights of citizenship. Because of people like Ezra and many others who took King Cyrus up on his generous offer and went to Jerusalem to start the rebuilding process, the temple would be restored along with the walls of Jerusalem (3-4). The articles from the temple that Nebuchadnezzar took and placed the temple at Babylon were given to Ezra to deposit in the temple (5-11). Normally treasures like gold, silver, and bronze were melted down to be repurposed for Babylon’s use but, Nebuchadnezzar did not do that and I think that is because of the prophet Daniel and the many who were seeking the Lord during the entire reign of Babylon.
Psalms 111 – The Lord Praised for His Goodness. Worshiping the Lord G_d is more than a song, it is when we praise and thank G_d for His generous care for his people with a thankful heart. We sing praise not to “feel better about our situation” but to uplift the Lord in our life so that “as we lift the Lord he will all men to him” (John 12:32). When we praise the Lord in the good times and the bad with a heart filled with praise, the kingdoms of hell will not stand against us (Matthew 16:17-19). Whatever situation we find ourselves in, it is the perfect place to look to the Lord and seek His face. He has declared and made known to His people the power of His works, In giving them the heritage of the nations (6). Receiving G_d’s blessings does not come before the work, any more than people are fed by showing them a packet of seeds. The [reverent] fear of the LORD is the beginning (the prerequisite, the absolute essential, the alphabet) of wisdom; A good understanding and a teachable heart are possessed by all those who do the will of the LORD; His praise endures forever (10).
Proverbs 14 – Upright and Wicked in the Light of our Witness. Just as G_d blesses obedience, being disobedience can bring about our destruction. The wise woman builds her house [on a foundation of godly precepts, and her household thrives], But the foolish one [who lacks spiritual insight] tears it down with her hands [by ignoring godly principles] (1). When the people of Judah went into slavery in Babylon, it was the perfect time to redefine their lives and the perception of what the children of G_d are like in a dark place. The people of the neighboring kingdoms that were also captured by Babylon, like Edom, Egypt, and others most likely would not have batted an eye when one of the men had sex with a temple prostitute however, the people outside of Judaism would no longer consider the Jew’s G_d of any more importance than the gods the people served. We never become powerhouses for G_d simply because we can quote scripture, carry a bible, prophecy destruction for any party we do not support and say “thus sayeth the Lord.” We become powerhouses for G_d when we are obedient to the word of G_d and the Father in and out of dark places (3). When we worship the Father, it must be “in spirit” that is we must be with a sincere heart otherwise we simply attempting to placate G_d to get what we want. We worship G_d in the truth that is, we are doing with genuine motive. A faithful and trustworthy witness will not lie, But a false witness speaks lies (5). The difference between lies and truth is 180 degrees but both sound alike and are sometimes hard to decipher unless you have intimate knowledge of the speaker. The backslider in heart will have his fill with his own [rotten] ways, But a good man will be satisfied with his ways [the godly thought and action which his heart pursues and in which he delights] (14). Remaining obedient to G_d and His word does not mean we “will get everything we want” or that everything will go our way; if that were the case, Nehemiah would have had no difficulties with Sanballat and Tobiah. The wicked person most often will remain obedient as long as things go their way otherwise, they will take it upon themselves to be the judge and jury against those they disagree with.
Jeremiah 23 – The Coming Messiah: the Righteous Branch. During the years that Judah was a kingdom with a king on the throne, just as there were true prophets of the Lord, there were also false prophets. The coming of the Messiah of G_d would unite Judah and bring about security for the people. “In His days Judah will be saved, And Israel will dwell safely; Now this is His name by which He will be called; ‘The LORD Our Righteousness (6).’ This prophecy along with other prophecies of the Messiah would be something to hold onto through the 400 years of silence. The difference between the false prophet and the true prophet would be that their words would come to pass without human intervention also, it is a matter of the use of the word “Lord”. As an example, the phrase “In God, We Trust” to the child of G_d phrase means “I trust G_d over money because money will fail me”; To the child of the world, it means “Money is my God and I will bow down and worship it even when it fails me”. In the same way, when people trust the government thinking it will honor its vows but when it fails, excuses are uttered and finger-pointing ensues. “For both [false] prophet and priest are ungodly (profane, polluted); Even in My house, I have found their wickedness,” says the LORD. “Therefore their way will be to them like slippery paths In the dark; they will be pushed and fall into them; For I will bring disaster on them, In the year of their punishment,” says the LORD (11-12). The purpose of prophecy is to turn people back to the ways of the Lord. The minions of hell are also ministering spirits sent to confuse the people so that they would not know the truth if it hit them on the head. For you will no longer remember the oracle of the LORD, because every man’s word will become the oracle, [for as they mockingly call all prophecies oracles, whether good or bad, so will it prove to be to them; God will take them at their word]; and you have perverted the words [not of a lifeless idol, but] of the living God, the LORD of hosts, our God (36).
John 19 – The Crown of Thorns. Jesus was humiliated in the eyes of the soldiers and the people put them up to it (1-5). Jesus was the promised Messiah but was rejected by the people. When Jesus was finally brought out to the people and Pilot said, “behold your king” which would mock the people, they said in one voice, “we have no king but Ceasar”. Jesus’ sentence of death said, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews” (19. This, of course, did not sit well with the people after all, “Jesus was not their king”. When Jesus put his mother in John’s care, it was a sacred responsibility because Mary was a widow for about 30 years. If Jesus were a criminal like Judas, his sentence of death would be justified and his family and disciples would have become fodder for destruction. Before the soldiers came to break the bones of the criminals on the cross so that the men wouldn’t be left on the cross during Passover, Jesus was already dead; if his bones would have been broken, it would not fulfill scripture; fulfilling scripture means “it will either happen or won’t and it will do it without human intervention.