Reading #1 – Acts 20
Reading #2 – Psalms 124
Reading #3 – Songs 4
Reading #4 – Jeremiah 44
Reading #5 – Nehemiah 12
Nehemiah 12 – The Priests and Levites who Returned to Jerusalem. Returning to Jerusalem and rebuilding the temple was a monumental task. The two books of Chronicles were written by Ezra for the specific purpose of documenting family lineage. In David’s time, the Priestly line was assigned a task that each family would do and the task would be passed down to the children and their children after them. So, it was not a simple matter of offering a sacrifice nor building a temple for the priests to go to work in. The work being accomplished had to fall in line with scriptures otherwise, anybody could be a priest and any priest that so chose could be the High priest. If Ezra had taken the easy way, there would have been no need to go back and rebuild the decimated city of Jerusalem. (1-21). Ezra’s work on Chronicles was not finished until the time of Johanan the son of Eliashib which around 398BC so, it was a working document (23). Revelations say, that the Devil went down to the earth in great wrath because of short a time He had to destroy the nations (Revelations 12:11-12). The reason he has a short time to do his work is that sentiment changes so there is a need to destroy as much as the man lets him.
Psalms 124 – Rescue from the Enemies. David understood a few striking characteristics about the G_d he served. First, He is Holy (1 Peter 1:14-16). Second, He is just (2 Thessalonians 1: 6-8) and 3rd, He doesn’t change His mind (Numbers 23:19-21). So David explained his stance, not with worn-out verses but appropriate justification (2-5). We have escaped like a bird from the snare of the fowlers; The trap is broken and we have escaped (7). Everything in scripture must be backed up with facts. David understood that say, “Blessed be the Lord, who has not given us as prey to be torn by their teeth (7).” Feigned words and trite phrases are enough to rally the base but, in practice, the deceit is found out.
Songs 4 – Solomon’s Love Expressed. The love relationship between Solomon and his bride is equitable that is, both sides feel the same. These were not feigned words of praise, they were true heartfelt words of gratitude and praise (Proverbs 27:14). While we may not know what this bride nor Solomon looked like that we can make a fair assessment, in Solomon and his wife’s eyes, they were two people deeply in love.
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”. “Your lips, my [promised] bride, drip honey [as the honeycomb]; Honey and milk are under your tongue, And the fragrance of your garments is like the fragrance of Lebanon. “A garden enclosed is my sister, my [promised] bride— A rock garden locked, a spring sealed up (11-12).
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).
Jeremiah 44 – Conquest of Egypt Predicted. In G_d’s providence, He does not operate as a man would do not operate on man’s timetable, and will yield His glory to no one. Judah’s leadership took the nation into Egypt because of “fear”. The thing the people of Judah feared was Babylon’s retribution for killing the governor Nebuchadnezzar put in power. Therefore now thus says the LORD God of hosts, the God of Israel, “Why did you commit this great evil against yourselves [bringing disaster] that will cut off from you man and woman, child and infant, out of Judah, leaving yourselves without a remnant? Why do you [deliberately] provoke Me to anger with the works (idols) of your hands, burning sacrifices and incense to [make-believe] gods in the land of Egypt, where you [of your own accord] have come to live [as temporary residents], that you might be cut off and become a curse and a disgrace [an object of taunts] among all the nations of the earth (7-8)? By getting up and running away, the people made the problem with Babylon worst than if they had left things alone.
Acts 20 – Paul in Macedonia and Greece. Before the fateful days at Rome and subsequent execution, Paul traveled through Macedonia to encourage the people he and his colleagues had worked with bringing them to the Lord. For most of the morning and into the wee hours of the morning, paul spoke effectively for the Lord, this is where Eutychus (lucky) fell from the window and died. If anybody other than Paul had been ministering, that might well have been the end of the subject. Healing the young man was an act of faith and an act of encouragement (10-11).