Reading #1 – Acts 26
Reading #2 – Psalms 130
Reading #3 – Proverbs 2
Reading #4 – Jeremiah 50
Reading #5 – Esther 5
Esther 5 – Esther Plans a Banquet. So the three main players in this drama, the King, the Queen, and the Jackle will soon come together at a feast. Haman’s head just became three sizes bigger than it was an hour before he entered the throne room (5). It is interesting how Queen Esther sets the trap by knowing her prey. For a trap to be effective, it must meet certain criteria: the bait must entice the prey, it has to be set in a setting conducive to put the prey at ease, and it must be left out for the right amount of time. In the same way that Esther correctly planned the capture of Haman, the Devil does the same thing to his prey and just as Esther was successful so is the Devil. Esther could have charged Haman of the crime without proof and she would have been made to look like a fool; so, she had to bide her time. When left the meet and greet, he saw Mordecai who, just like all of the other times, refused to recognize Haman nor did he show fear of the man. This caused Mordecai to forget about the honor he had been shown. When he got home, he bragged about his good fortune, the size of his family, and how the King personally bestowed riches on him as part of his job (9-12). Yet all of this does not satisfy me as long as I see Mordecai the Jew sitting at the king’s gate (13). When Haman’s wife, Zeresh, and his friends suggested building the gallows to hang Mordecai to make an example of him, he didn’t hesitate (14). The thing that Haman didn’t consider is that the gallows could be his demise; he probably thought that his actions were justified because the king permitted him to pursue this evil course of events (Esther 3:5-6). The king had forgotten about Mordicai’s actions to upend the king’s assassination.
Psalms 130 – Hope in the Lord’s Forgiving Love. One of the downfalls of mankind is his/her ability to not trust the Lord either because they were mistreated by a servant of the lord or, they have been told: “G_d can’t forgive a sinner like you”! Out of the depths [of distress], I have cried to You, O LORD. Lord, hear my voice! Let Your ears be attentive to the voice of my supplications (1-2). Distress will either bring us closer to the Lord or closer to exacerbating the problem. No man, woman, and/or child living today, yesterday, or tomorrow can safely say, “I haven’t sinned so I don’t need Jesus” because we all do and that includes every member of every denomination, every city, every state, and every country, and/or religion (John 8:4-11). We do not deserve “forgiveness” and it doesn’t matter who we are but everybody who confesses their sin and leaves the sin behind is forgiven; because we are forgiven, we should be compelled to in the same way forgive others (Ephesians 4:32). Forgiveness sometimes is not immediate because there things that need to happen first like, “making things right” so we must be willing to wait without expectation of a clean slate. My soul waits for the Lord more than the watchmen for the morning; more than the watchmen for the morning and he will redeem _____ from all of his/her sins (6,8).
Proverbs 2 – The Pursuit of Wisdom Brings Security. Wisdom is a unique and powerful tool when it is properly employed. Solomon wrote these beautiful words of wisdom but not the intestinal fortitude to employ them. What he says is true and the person who employes wisdom in his/her daily life, will understand the fervent fear of the Lord. In the same way, the person who acts on his/her wisdom will not understand the fervent fear of the Lord. Between the two gulfs lies a chasm and no bridge connects them. To the foolish, these words are non-sense (Isaiah 6:10). ). Learning wisdom is not something we can garner from a textbook nor sitting listening to lengthy prayers and sermons, learning wisdom comes from a purposeful application. There are times in our life that the Holy Spirit of G_d will speak to our heart about a matter and we must have our spiritual eyes and ears open (Matthew 16:17).
Jeremiah 50 – Prophecy against Babylon. Nation Israel was taken into captivity leaving only the poorest of the poor to take care of the land. For about 50 years, Babylon was the pearl of the region and people wanted to be a part of that kingdom either by trading with them or by drawing alliances. But in 539, the Medes and Persians marched against Babylon and captured it during the time of Nabonidus III (Daniel 5:30-31). Just Esther laid a trap for Haman and patiently waited until the time was right so, does the Lord G_d. When we read about “end times” we think about the destruction of the earth instead of a “series of events that culminate in the implosion (1 Thessalonians 4:13-15). “In those days and at that time,” says the LORD, “the children of Israel will come, they and the children of Judah together; they will come up weeping [in repentance] as they come and seek the LORD their God [inquiring for and of Him]. They will ask the way to Zion, with their faces in that direction, saying, ‘Come, let us join ourselves to the LORD in an everlasting covenant that will not be forgotten (4-5).” The hardest thing to swallow is not being told everything that must transpire before the end of our life. Babylon captured Israel but there were people in Babylon, like Daniel, who led the king to the Lord and that event opened the door for the king to be forgiven. Salvation does not stop destruction from happening in the land; it does, however, pave the way for healing in the face of destruction.
Acts 26 – Paul’s Defense before King Agrippa. King Agrippa was the king of Judea during the time of the Herodian dynasty and reigned between 41-44 AD; his son, Agrippa II, would be the last of the dynasty before the full power of Rome came into being. King Agrippa was called by Festus. Festus to help him decipher an appropriate charge to put in writing to Caesar Nero. Festus did not like what Paul to say because Festus believed that Caesar nor Jesus was king. hen the king stood up, and [with him] the governor and Bernice, and those who were sitting with them; and after they had gone out, they began saying to one another, “This man is not doing anything worthy of death or [even] of imprisonment.” And Agrippa said to Festus, “This man could have been set free if he had not appealed to Caesar (Emperor Nero) (30-32).”