Reading #1 – Acts 23
Reading #2 – Psalms 127
Reading #3 – Songs 7
Reading #4 – Jeremiah 47
Reading #5 – Esther 2
Esther 2 – Vashti’s Successor Sought. After the King had simmered down, only then did he consider the implications of Vashti’s actions, the results of his anger, and the foolish decision that he made which could not be repealed (Esther 1:19). Basically, King Xerxes was caught between a rock and a hard place just like Pilot (Matthew 27:18-24). So a search was made to find Vashti’s replacement and every beautiful woman in the kingdom was compelled to try out for the coveted position. One of the contestants was Hadassa the Jew named Esther; her guardian, Mordicai, told her not to let on about her ancestry (8-10). For 12 months, the women were trained in the art of applying makeup and the appropriate perfumes. The rule of law was that each woman had one chance to spend the night with the king; the next morning, the young woman was escorted to another harem where she would be chosen or live out her days in the 2nd harem. When it came time for Hadassah, everyone in the court including the king was pleased with the young woman. Hadassah only brought the things that the Eunach suggested. So Esther was taken to King Ahasuerus, to his royal palace in the tenth month, that is, the month of Tebeth (Dec-Jan), in the seventh year of his reign (15-16). Mordecai the Jew, Hadassah’s guardian waited outside of the kingdom to hear any updates about this adopted daughter. While outside, he overheard a conspiracy to kill the king which Mordecai reported to Esther, and Esther advised the king. Once an inquiry had been completed, the two conspirators were found guilty and executed (21-23).
Psalms 127 – Prosperity Comes from the Lord. We can do all of the right things and still fail when trying to do things “our way”. Applying for help from Egypt sounded like a good thing to do, after all, Egypt was powerful but would be no match for Babylon (Jeremiah 46:12). Although we can try to do things our way and think that our wisdom will carry the day, however, just like the kings of old found out we end up with a bit in our mouth. Unless the LORD builds the house, They labor in vain who build it; Unless the LORD guards the city, The watchman keeps awake in vain (1). Developing a ministry outside of the Lord’s help is like building a structure without a blueprint; yes, you will have a building but no, it will not stand the trials (1 Corinthians 3:12-15). We can put as much time as we want to build something but only wear ourselves out and become discouraged (2). The family we are given to lead, we are responsible for so when we destroy that family, we pay the ultimate price; conversely, when our children are successful, happy, and confident we receive a little of that praise (3-5).
Songs 7 – Admiration of the Groom. This is Solomon’s love letter to his bride-to-be. Notice his letter is about her and the desires of his heart.
Jeremiah 47 – Prophecy against Philistia. The Philistines were an ancient enemy of the Jews. For a little bit of time, David was a refuge in Philistia and would have fought Saul at Mount Gilboa if the Philistine commanders had not sent him back (1 Samuel 29:2-3). This letter was to the Jews and Philistia as a warning. The Philistines were powerful but, like Egypt, were no match for the Babylonian horde. “Behold, waters are going to rise out of the north (Babylonia) And become an overflowing stream And overflow the land and all that is in it, the city and those who live in it. Then the people will cry out, and all the inhabitants of the land [of Philistia] will wail (2). We should never think that “we are the only ones being persecuted” or that G_d only cares about us. The point to the Jews was that even though these people are going down, so are you. When we sin, we are no different than the world though we use the moniker “Christian” (Parallel John 21:20-22). “O you sword of the LORD, How long will it be before you are quiet? Put yourself into your sheath; rest and be still. “How can His sword be quiet When the LORD has given it an order? Against Ashkelon and the [whole Philistine] seashore There He has assigned it (6-7).”
Acts 23 – Paul before the Council. Paul was called to explain himself before the council of the Sanhedrin for the charges against him. The problem with investigating anything is that the team investigating had better have their lives in order (Proverbs 18:17). Paul turned this argument over by pointing out the religious’ leaders duplicity (3). The next side of the argument was knowing the audience. Paul noticed that the Sadducees had representatives in the Sanhedrin that day. By stating his defense about the resurrection of the dead referring to Jesus, it created a heated conversation between the two groups and the scribes (6-9). Because Paul had managed to derail the trial that would have earned a death sentence, the leaders had to resort to trickery by making a silly vow not to eat anything until Paul was killed. To get Paul away from the Roman guard, a ruse was established to “get a little more information”. Unfortunately, Paul’s sister’s son overheard the conversation and alerted Paul to it. Paul had the boy speak to the commander about it (16-22). Paul was then taken to Caesarea under the cover of darkness for his safety. After reading the letter, he asked which province Paul was from, and when he learned that he was from Cilicia [an imperial province], he said, “I will hear your case when your accusers have arrived,” giving orders that Paul be kept under guard in Herod’s Praetorium (the governor’s official residence) (34-35).