Reading #1 – John 21
Reading #2 – Psalms 113
Reading #3 – Proverbs 16
Reading #4 – Jeremiah 25
Reading #5 – Ezra 3
Ezra 3 – Altar and Sacrifices Restored. In the 7th month, the sons of Israel were in the cities, the people gathered together as one man to Jerusalem (1). To come as “one man”, implies they spoke in agreement and set out to accomplish the same mission to restore the temple (2). The altar of G_d was built on the old foundation because the previous occupants also had an altar. To build on the foundation of the world’s ways implies that “the world was right” (1 Corinthians 3:10-13). By re-establishing the festivals ordained by G_d through Moses, implies “we need to go back to the behaviors which pleased G_d”. By using the money given by Cyrus correctly with integrity, they showed the ruler that they G_d the Jews served is as interested in how we worship as it does the pathway to honor Him (3-7). The temple was rebuilt in the 2nd year the priestly assigned duties were re-established along with assigning people to rebuild the house of G_d (8-9). So, the first thing to be accomplished was the people coming back to their senses (1), the 2nd thing accomplished was re-building the altar, the 3rd thing was assigned duties and establishing responsibilities, and the 4th was rebuilding the Temple. In the same way, when we drift away from G_d and our ways fall out of line with His best for our life, it is not a simple matter of going back to the choir, start reading the bible, and everything will good to go, there are background items that need to be done first or John the Revelator was told to relay to the church at Ephesus, “you have drifted away from your first love” (Revelations 2:2-4). The Jews had drifted away from their first love and by it were corrupted. I have said multiple times and will repeat, “when the Devil is allowed into the door of your life, he will see to it that you are utterly decimated and very quickly because he knows all too well that if he does not corrupt you, he will lose even the barest inch your life just like the Jews had been corrupted which we will read more in Nehemiah’s account.
Psalms 113 – The Lord Exalts the Humble. When we come back to the Lord G_d after sojourning in sin, it is a humbling experience because it means G_d was right after all. In the same way, when our children sojourn away from the pathway we have built-in them through the growing years, they will first have to come to their senses by admitting they were wrong (Proverbs 22:6) otherwise, the problems will not be solved. G_d is not looking for accolades, feined promises, and/or funny stories, He is looking for his church to show the difference between righteousness and unrighteousness. When we recognize what G_d has done for us, we also recognize who is right and who is wrong. From the rising of the sun to its setting The name of the LORD is to be praised [with awe-inspired reverence]. The LORD is high above all nations, And His glory above the heavens (3-4). Our G_d is not like the mini gods of this world because he is not tacked down to a piece of wood and oblations poured out to a lifeless statue or a piece of wood that is whittled down to form a face (Isaiah 44:15-17). We as His children should praise Him with grateful hearts because if we don’t, the trees and rocks (things that grow from the ground) will cry out “Praise and glory” (Habakuk 2:11). What G_d promises us, He is faithful to see it through as long as we remain faithful to Him by doing what he asks us to without trying to rationalize or help Him out (Philippians 1:6). He raises the poor out of the dust And lifts the needy from the ash heap, That He may seat them with princes, With the princes of His people. He makes the barren woman live in the house As a joyful mother of children. Praise the LORD! (Hallelujah!) (7-9).
Proverbs 16 – Contrast the Upright and the Wicked. The plans and reflections of the heart belong to man, But the [wise] answer of the tongue is from the LORD (1). Because the heart of man most often, or as a standard, contrives wicked plans mankind must be diligent to seek the face of the Lord G_d to understand what will happen by acting on wicked plans. The exile in 586 was 400 years in the making. The wicked kings came about because the righteous king gave way to wicked plans instead of “carefully considering what they are planning to do” (Acts 5:35). All the ways of a man are clean and innocent in his own eyes [and he may see nothing wrong with his actions], But the LORD weighs and examines the motives and intents [of the heart and knows the truth] (2). It would be nice to have a crystal ball to help us see the future in light of our choices, but unfortunately, we do not but we do have the Word of G_d to see what the Lord requires of us and if our plans are in line with His plan (Micah 6). When it comes right down to it, if want to avoid trouble we need to listen to Him even if we think “our plans are better”. Indeed, you will not find everything spelled out in the Word of G_d because He is not one for “cookie-cutter Christians”, He wants us to think for ourselves about what is right, what is wrong, and what is dangerous. The choice to “hold people up in prayer” or “Hold them to the fire for an offense” is a choice and not an easy one at that. A man’s mind plans his way [as he journeys through life], But the LORD directs his steps and establishes them. A divine decision [given by God] is on the lips of the king [as His representative]; His mouth should not be unfaithful or unjust in judgment (9-10).
Jeremiah 25 – Prophecy and Captivity. Judah had become a cesspool of sin thanks to the wicked kings. While the kings were punished the most, the people had the servants of the Lord (Abraham, Isaac, Moses) and the prophets neither of which did they listen to (4-5). For 23 years to the last year of Josiah, the people were warned about the pending judgment which would have given them time to get things right while they still had a light (3). We have the light of G_d in His word if we would pay attention to it and not do as the Jews did. Yet you have not listened to Me,” says the LORD, “so that you have provoked Me to anger with the work (idols) of your hands to your harm (7). This is the same message we try to relay to our children but they, just like us, most often do not listen and because of it, they bring trouble to their lives. When G_d removes his Spirit from us, everything goes with it and all that remains is an imprint of where the altar once was and the world will rejoice at our falling. Moreover, I will take from them the voice of joy and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride, the sound of the millstones [grinding meal], and the light of the lamp [to light the night]. This whole land will be a waste and a horror, and these nations will serve the king of Babylon seventy years (10). How the world treats us when we fall is usually consistent with how we treated the as the parable of the “Shrewd Servant” brings out (Luke 16). When we judge others just like as like how the world judges us, will be commensurate with how we and the world around us are judged (17-26). “Then you shall say to them, ‘Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, “Drink, be drunk, vomit, and fall to rise no more because of the sword which I will send among you (27).”‘
John 21 – Jesus Appears at the Sea of Galilee. The resurrection and this was in the closing days before he ascended into Heaven. Peter and his colaborers were at a loss as to what to do now that their teacher had passed away. In the eyes of the world at that time, Jesus’ death was a reason to celebrate because the troublemaker is gone and now we can teach his disciples better. Jesus knew these events would occur while he was yet alive just like Paul knew that “after he was gone wolves would come into the midst causing problems for the church (Acts 20:29). For this reason, the promised Holy Spirit would be sent to teach them the way of the Lord (John 14). So the fishermen worked all night but didn’t catch anything. Along comes this character on the shoreline asking “Have you caught anything yet? Cast your net on the right-hand side of the boat and you will catch some so, they did and they did catch a mammoth amount (5-6) which, was the 2nd time such an event took place (Matthew 4:18-19). When the disciple said, “Man that’s the Lord”, Peter jumped from the boat and swam to shore leaving the group with a near sinking boat. Such a response stemmed from a long few days after Peter denied knowing Jesus. The first thing that Jesus did after Peter got to him was that he fed them that is, to provide for a human need something Jesus would no longer require. Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” None of the disciples dared to ask Him, “Who are You?” They knew [without any doubt] that it was the Lord (17). Peter had proudly proclaimed in the hours leading up to Jesus’ arrest that although the rest of them would flee, he would stand beside Jesus because “he loved Jesus more than any of the others”. So, Jesus held him to his word but also told him what the cost would be (15-18).