Reading #1 – Acts 19
Reading #2 – Psalms 123
Reading #3 – Songs 3
Reading #4 – Jeremiah 43
Reading #5 – Nehemiah 11
Nehemiah 11 – Time Passes; Heads of Provinces. The practice of “casting lots” was a fair way of making decisions. Unlike gambling, casting lots is a method of “decision making”. Old Testament Priests cast lots when having to make difficult decisions (Exodus 28:30). Because not every question is answered by scriptures, as in the case of “who stays in Jerusalem and who do not” (1), there was a need to cast lots or “draw straws”.
Psalms 123 – Prayer for the Lord’s Help. Not everyone is endowed with the wisdom of Solomon, the wheel of Ezekiel, and/or the vision of John the Revelator (Proverbs 30:1-4). But everybody can look to the Lord for guidance and support in their hour of need. Behold, as the eyes of servants look to the hand of their master, And as the eyes of a maid to the hand of her mistress, So our eyes look to the LORD our God, Until He is gracious and favorable toward us (2). When life deals its heavy hand against us, our help is in the Lord the Maker of Heaven and Earth (146:5-7). When we come to the point where life is at its worst, He does his best work in and through us (3-4).
Songs 3 – The Bride’s Troubled Dream. Solomon’s first marriage was born out of love. The bride dreamt she could not find the one her heart loved. When she awoke from her dream, her heart ached for this “love”. This deep abiding love is not something you will find on the open market, it is found in a love relationship with the one our father chooses for us. The problem is, “the one our heart desires” is found in the weirdest places, is not always found in the same place, and/or under the same circumstances. The word picture drawn is two people drawn together in a committed love relationship. Solomon is riding on a palanquin which is a litter carried by 60 of his men (5-7). Solomon put only the finest products into building this palanquin so that, when it was finished, it was a work of art. “Go forth, O daughters of Zion, and gaze on King Solomon wearing the crown with which his mother [Bathsheba] has crowned him On the day of his wedding, on the day of his gladness of heart (11).”
Jeremiah 43 – In Egypt Jeremiah Warns of Judgment. Jeremiah stood alone against the power and will of the people. The Lord said through Jeremiah “tell them to stay in Jerusalem and do not be afraid to serve the King of Babylon” (Jeremiah 42:10-12). Johanan and the commanders and all of the people, except Jeremiah, went willing to Egypt against the lord’s guidance. The decision to go also meant accepting the Lord’s punishment when Nebuchadnezzar and his armies invaded Egypt. The leaders feared being put to death in Jerusalem because of the assassination of Gedaliah, the Jews at the banquet, and Babylonian guards at the hands of Ishmael (Jeremiah 41:3). Jeremiah’s prophecy was direct, blunt, and clear about what would soon happen to Egypt and how it would affect those that ran away from Jerusalem to Egypt (8-13).
Acts 19 – Paul at Ephesus. Ephesus, which is located near the western shore of modern-day Turkey, was multi-cultural that is, there were idols to Artemis and servants of the Lord. These people lived together and were content. When Paul arrived, he met with the believers and ministered to their needs. These believers knew the baptism of John so that is what they taught. After hearing this, they were baptized [again, this time] in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they began speaking in [unknown] tongues (languages) and prophesying. There were about twelve men in all (5-7). Anytime there is a great move of G_d’s hand, the Devil will also be front and center to stop the move (9). Paul healed people by the power of his relationship with the Lord G_d. Of course, just as mentioned above, trouble makers come to show that serving the Lord isn’t difficult just use the right words, do the correct hand movements and you have a pretty little miracle that goes off of the rails (13-15). Events like this happen so that the person witnessing it will know the difference between serving the Lord and serving the world (Malachi 3:16-18). Because of the frightful event, many came to serve the Lord G_d because He showed Himself to be G_d and not a cumbersome idol (17-20). The fight that Demetrius started was over “money” (23-26,1 Timothy 6:9-10). Not only is there a danger that this trade of ours will be discredited, but also that the [magnificent] temple of the great goddess Artemis will be discredited, and that she whom all Asia and the world worship will even be dethroned and lose her glorious magnificence (27).” When the people gathered in the amphitheater where everybody talked at the same time. Paul wanted to go in to talk to the people but was begged not to (30-32). The city clerk was the one to silence the crowd as he was a middle man who is not a Jew nor is he a worshipper of Artemis. After the town clerk had quieted the crowd, he said, “Men of Ephesus, what person is there who does not know that the city of the Ephesians is the guardian of the temple of the great Artemis and of that [sacred stone image of her] which fell from the sky (35)? If he had finished his speech with these words, it would have upset the Jews would also want representation (37). The real culprit of this riot was called out. So then, if Demetrius and the craftsmen who are with him have a complaint against anyone, the courts are in session and proconsuls are available; let them bring charges against one another there (39). This was a well-crafted argument that did not discuss the merits for one side or the other it simply quieted the people down and then dismissed them.