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Wednesday, July 31, 2013
For if thou altogether holdest thy peace at this time, then shall there enlargement and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place; but thou and thy father' house shall be destroyed: and who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?
Though the name of God is not mentioned in this book of Esther, His presence and protection of the Jewish people is repeatedly implied. As we read through the first three chapters of Esther, we can see the hand of God in what happens. The scripture reveals the desire of Haman to eliminate all the Jewish people of the world and we see God's intervention.
Early in the story, Queen Vashti refuses to entertain King Ahasuerus' provincial leaders as they met together at the palace. The removal of Vashti and the entrance of Esther onto the "stage of the kingdom" was setting in motion a very significant drama that was played out some 2,500 years ago.
The fact that Esther was a Jewish woman had gone unnoticed by the King and his court. With the naming of Esther as the new Queen, God had a plan He set in place for the protection of all the Jews of the world.
I love the two phrases associated with Queen Esther's rescue operation. The first is "for such a time as this". The other being "if I perish, I perish". These two thoughts illustrate how God, though not mentioned, is implied.
The fact that a Jewish girl could become the queen to a Gentile world leader had to be of God. Esther's willingness to die for her people displays the love that only God can give someone. God's hand is definitely involved in all that takes place in this drama.
This record of God's protection of His people is only a chapter in the Bible, which gives an account of a long list of times that God interceded on behalf of His people. The reason that this is significant is the promise that God made Adam and Eve. God said from a woman would someday come a Messiah, Genesis 3:15. God also made promises, or covenants, with the Jewish people that are eternal and cannot be broken.
The entire book of Esther is a record of God's intervention in the affairs of men who try to eliminate the Jewish people. God will keep His promises to the Jews and protect them until these "promises" are fulfilled. This is the essence of the fulfillment of Bible prophecy.
PRAYER THOT: Lord, please give me the strength to do Your will no matter what the circumstances, even if it means I will perish.
Tuesday, July 30, 2013
And he thought scorn to lay hands on Mordecai alone; for they had shewed him the people of Mordecai: wherefore Haman sought to destroy all the Jews that were throughout the whole kingdom of Ahasuerus, even the people of Mordecai.
Haman, the number two man in the Persian Kingdom under King Ahasuerus, was furious when Mordecai did not bow to him as he entered the gates to the city. Haman then convinced the King that all the Jews throughout all of the Kingdom must be killed. King Ahasuerus accepted Haman's plan and signed the "law of the Medes and Persians" to set in motion the total destruction of the Jewish people.
The rest of the book of Esther is the story of how the Persian Queen Esther had come into the kingdom for "such a time as this". Unbeknown to the king, his Queen was Jewish and her cousin Mordecai had told her not to reveal her Jewishness. However, it was God's timing for Esther to approach the King for her people, and "if she perish, she would perish".
The book of Esther is a record of God's intervention to protect His chosen people, even though the name of God is not mentioned in the book. In fact, the Jewish people celebrate annually the feast of Purim in honor of Esther intervening and the saving of the Jewish people.
Take time to read Esther 3, and please notice verse one. It reveals the family background of the villain of the book of Esther, Haman. The number two leader in the Persian Kingdom is an Agagite, the son of Hammedatha. The Agagites are the descendants of Agag, the King of the Amalekites, I Samuel 15:8. Remember, the Amalekites are descendants of Amalek, the grandson of Esau, Genesis 36:12.
This line of Esau's descendants has been, and are all involved today in trying to kill all the Jews in the world. Remember, this was the "blessing" that Esau's father Isaac had bestowed upon him, Genesis 27:40-41.
These descendants can be traced through Herod the Great all the way to the Palestinians of today (see my study on Esau and the Palestinians). These are a people who will meet their end at the return of Jesus Christ to the earth, Obadiah 15-18.
But before that prophecy is fulfilled, seven years before, Jesus Christ will call Christians to join Him in the air, at the Rapture of the Church, which could happen today. Keep looking up.
PRAYER THOT: Thank you Lord for revealing the future in Your Word so that I may be able to understand the times I’m living in so that I live eagerly awaiting Your shout to join You in the air, at the Rapture.
Monday, July 29, 2013
And when these days were expired, the king made a feast unto all the people that were present in Shushan the palace, both unto great and small, seven days, in the court of the garden of the king's palace;
Our reading today is not only setting the stage for the flow of prophetic truth to be revealed, and in fact to keep this flow moving toward fulfillment, it is also the record of Bible prophecy being fulfilled.
After you have read the extended reading for today, you will be aware of the history of King Ahasuerus, the Persian king, who is the fourth of the Persian Kings after the rise of the Medo-Persian Empire.
The Babylonian Empire had fallen and the Medo-Persian Empire had become a very powerful empire with King Ahasuerus controlling all the land, from India in the east, and all the way west to the African continent and the country of Ethiopia. The text tells us of 127 provinces in all.
King Ahasuerus was a very wealthy man, verse 4, in fact, richer than the three previous Persian kings together. The King brought all of his provincial leaders into his palace for a six month-long feast so that all the people could honor his riches and glorious kingdom.
This narrative in Esther 1 is a record of Bible prophecy being fulfilled. The ancient Jewish prophet Daniel had written a very detailed prophecy about King Ahasuerus, Daniel 11:1-2, without mentioning his name, but his riches and power. Daniel wrote his prophecy a number of years before Ahasuerus came to power thus this account is the record of prophecy fulfilled.
In a future reading, we will write more about Vashti's replacement, Esther. Then we will see the hand of God as the "Protector" of all the Jewish people. This portion of our reading today is setting the stage for things to come.
We will see the villain of Esther, Haman, come to power and move to destroy the Jewish people. Once again as we journey through the Bible for our devotions, we will see prophecy, the fulfillment of prophecy, and the stage being set for future prophecies to be fulfilled.
The story in the book of Esther is of God using Gentile leaders to protect His "chosen people" so that He can fulfill the promises made to His people. As you read through all 10 chapters of Esther, you will notice that "God" is never mentioned in the book. However, His presence and protection is evident as He uses world leaders to fulfill His will, Revelation 17:17.
God, will in the last days, use "world leaders" to set the stage for the last drama to be played out on the world stage, as He did in the days of Esther.
The record in the book of Esther of prophecy being fulfilled is the basis upon which we can believe that prophecy yet to be fulfilled, will be fulfilled.
PRAYER THOT: Thank you for your presence, your provision, and your protection for me on a daily basis.
Sunday, July 28, 2013
For the children of Israel and the children of Levi shall bring the offering of the corn, of the new wine, and the oil, unto the chambers, where are the vessels of the sanctuary, and the priests that minister, and the porters, and the singers: and we will not forsake the house of our God.
As we come to our devotional reading for today we must be reminded of some background information before we look at our passage for our extended reading.
Nehemiah had traveled back to Jerusalem to rebuild the streets of the city and the walls around the city. That job completed, the scribe, Ezra comes into the Temple with the "Torah", the five books of Moses, the first five books of the Old Testament, Nehemiah 8:1.
The day Ezra arrived at the Temple, Nehemiah 8:2, the first day of the seventh month on the Jewish calendar, was the Jewish Holy Day of Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, also known as the "feast of trumpets".
As Ezra stood behind a "wooden pulpit" , Nehemiah 8:4, the people stood up for the reading of the Word, Nehemiah 8:5. Then Ezra gave the people an understanding of the portion read to the congregation. As a result of the reading of the Word and a response to the Word there was "revival" among the Jewish worshipers.
In Nehemiah 9:3 we see that the Jewish worshipers would spend one-fourth of their day reading the Word of God and one-fourth of their day confessing their sins and worshiping the Lord their God.
It was because of what was happening among the Jewish people that leads us to the point in time of our reading for today. The last verse in Nehemiah 9, verse 38, states that they made a promise, a vow in writing, and sealed it.
Walking in the law of the Lord was made manifest in their giving of their wealth to the service of the Temple, verse 32. Verse 35 also reveals that those who had come under the influence of this revival also gave the "first fruits" of the farm products they were harvesting for the activities at the Temple.
Then, in our key verse, verse 39, we see that they did all that was reported of them, and made a vow to forsake not the "house of their God". This last statement reminds me of the exhortation Paul wrote in the book of Hebrews, 10:25, "Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together as the manner of some is, but exhorting one another: and so much the more as we see the day approaching".
The "day approaching" is the day of the coming of the Lord at the Rapture of the Church. That day could be today, the day that Jesus shouts to have us join Him in the air. This behooves us to let the Word of God be that by which we live everyday of our life as we await His seemingly soon return to gather us to Him.
PRAYER THOT: Lord help me to join others as we assemble ourselves together to hear Your Word in preparation for the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Saturday, July 27, 2013
So they read in the book in the law of God distinctly, and gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading.
This chapter in Nehemiah is an exhortation for each of us to read the Word of God, come to an understanding of the Word, and then to obey the Word. Nehemiah 8:8 tells us how this can happen. The verse explains the process that Ezra, the scribe, used in order for God's Word to be understood and obeyed.
When someone tells me, based upon Nehemiah 8:4 that I must stand behind a pulpit to preach, I remind them that they must then stand while I preach based on the next verse.
Notice after the Word was read, Nehemiah 8:8, that Ezra would "give the sense" of the Word. In other words, he would do a Bible study with the people so that they would understand what was being read.
It is interesting to note that the people had a respect for God's Word, as indicated by the fact that they stood as the Word was read. We must first respect God's Word before we can really understand what God is saying to us through it. When we respect and understand His Word, then we will obey His Word, as we see happening in this passage, Nehemiah 8:9-18.
Did you notice the time of the year that the passage takes place? It is in the fall of the year, Nehemiah 8:2, the first day of the seventh month. That is the day that the Jewish people celebrate the Feast of Trumpets, Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year.
Notice also that as the people read and understood God's Word, they realized that they were to observe the seven-day Feast of Tabernacles, Nehemiah 8:14-18. The seven-day Feast of Tabernacles was celebrated by reading the Word each day, Nehemiah 8:18, in addition to living in their "thatched huts" for the seven days of the feast.
This chapter gives us an understanding of how we are to relate to God's Word. It also looks into the future with the mention of the two Jewish feast days, Trumpets and Tabernacles.
The first of these two Jewish Feasts foretell of the time of the return of the Messiah, Jesus Christ, to the Earth. Christ will come back to the Mount of Olives on the Feast of Trumpets. This is not the Rapture, but the Second Coming. Jesus tells the angel to blow the trumpet and gather His elect from the four winds and from one end of heaven to the other, Matthew 24:31 .
The Millennial Kingdom will begin on the Feast of Tabernacles, the last of the fall feast, fulfilling the prophecy of the Jewish feast day, as will be the case in all seven of the Jewish Feast days. That is what Peter was talking about when he wanted to set up three tabernacles in Matthew 17 on the Mount of transfiguration.
Nehemiah 8 is a great chapter that reminds us of the importance of "reading", "understanding", and "obeying" God's Word. But also it reminds us of things to come, Bible prophecy that will be fulfilled.
PRAYER THOT: Help me Lord to read Your Word, understand it and obey it.
Friday, July 26, 2013
And it came to pass, that when all our enemies heard thereof, and all the heathen that were about us saw these things, they were much cast down in their own eyes: for they perceived that this work was wrought of our God.
What a stamp of approval, the "Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval", when the world, in fact the enemy of the Jewish people, realized that "the work was wrought of our God". The work Nehemiah wrote about, of course, was the rebuilding of the "walls and the streets" of the city of Jerusalem.
God had worked in the heart of the King of Persia to allow Nehemiah, the King's cupbearer, to return to Jerusalem to reconstruct the walls around the city and repair the streets of the "holy city".
As the "foreman" on the job, Nehemiah had led the workers, as a man of God, with a purpose focused on service for the Lord and His chosen city. It was a matter of "focus" with Nehemiah.
Verses 2-4 indicate that the enemies of the Jewish city and its people wanted to stop the work of the Lord. They tried to divert Nehemiah away from his work. Notice Nehemiah's response to the invitation to walk away from his God-given mission, verse 3.
The focus, according to Nehemiah was, "I'm doing a great work, so that I can not come down". When doing a great work for the Lord, we must stay focused on the mission that God has given us and let nothing distract us from His will for our lives. It may be hard to focus but we must do so to get His work done.
As one reads through all of Nehemiah's account of this rebuilding of the walls and repairing the streets of Jerusalem we can find example after example of how God's man under God's leadership and provision, can do God's will much faster than previously thought.
This project was done as a testimony to the "heathen" around Jerusalem who were doing everything they could to cause Nehemiah and his team to fail. This event is one of the "milestones" along the way, in Jewish history.
The fact is that the Persian king Artaxerxes would make a decree that would mark the time in history to start the count that would lead up to the time when Jesus Christ would be hailed as the King of Kings, on the day of the Triumphal Entry of Jesus into the city of Jerusalem, Daniel 9:25-26.
The exactness of this pronouncement by the King sets in place the point of reference by which Jews, Gentiles and Christians can begin to count 173,880 days until Messiah Jesus Christ would show up in Jerusalem, Luke 19:40-45.
According to Jesus, in the Luke passage, He showed up in Jerusalem on the exact day He was to be there, not a day late or a day early, the exact day He was to be there. Jesus then told those there and the ones who would read this passage later that by reading the Word of God, and understanding what it's saying, we can know what time it is in His plan for the future.
The practical and the prophetic come together in this passage of scripture, our devotional reading for today.
PRAYER THOT: Help me, dear Lord, to focus on the mission you have given me to complete for you as I await your call for me to join you in heaven.
Thursday, July 25, 2013
They which builded on the wall, and they that bare burdens, with those that laded, every one with one of his hands wrought in the work, and with the other hand held a weapon.
What a great book is, Nehemiah, the one containing our reading for today. Nehemiah was still among the Jews that had not returned to the land of Israel. When he got word of the deplorable conditions of his beloved city of Jerusalem he immediately sought permission from the king to return to Jerusalem and to rebuild the "walls" of the city and repair its "streets".
He would face much opposition to the task God had given him. In fact, there would be those who wanted the building stopped. Those who opposed the Jews would even resort to killing the workers. Nehemiah prepared his workers to both rebuild the walls and streets of the city and to protect themselves from the attacks.
As I read through the extended passage for today, I was impressed with what happened about 2,500 years ago and what has been going on in the modern-day Jewish state of Israel. Nehemiah's helpers would work with one hand and hold their weapon with the other as they worked.
That principle extended to the other workers with a portion of them at the work of refurbishing Jerusalem and the other portion of the Jews with shields and spears to protect the workers.
I almost feel like I am reading out of the local Israeli newspaper reporting on a normal life in the Middle East. Today, the Jewish nation of just over six million people is building a nation with one hand working to build this Jewish nation and the other half of the nation protecting all Jews from total destruction.
A great statement is used as an exhortation to the Jewish people then - and now. "Our God shall fight for us", found in verse 20, is a reminder to the Jewish people of who they are and what the God of heaven will do for them. They are the "Sons of Jacob", the one who had his name changed to "Israel" which literally means, "my God will fight for you".
These six million Jews today have living around them at least 350 million Arabs and Muslims. They all claim to despise the Jews and want to rid the world of all of them. So what's new?
The only way the Jews will sustain existence is by God fighting for them, which He has done for about 4,000 years. That in and of itself is proof of the reality of a true, all- powerful, holy God who will indeed continue to fight for His "chosen people", the Jewish people.
PRAYER THOT: Thank you Lord for taking care of the Jewish people, which gives me comfort that You will also take care of me, fighting for me, as a member of Your body.
Wednesday, July 24, 2013
And the king said unto me, (the queen also sitting by him,) For how long shall thy journey be? and when wilt thou return? So it pleased the king to send me; and I set him a time.
Nehemiah was the cupbearer for King Artaxerxes during the early days of the Persian Empire. Word came from Jerusalem that the "holy city" was the laughing stock of the world because of its physical condition. The Temple had been rebuilt but the walls and the streets of the city were in shambles.
This news prompted Nehemiah to seek permission from the King to travel to Jerusalem and repair his beloved city, Nehemiah 2:5. In fact, the King gave Nehemiah a letter to take with him on his journey granting safe passage and the written permission to rebuild the walls and streets of the City of Jerusalem, Nehemiah 2:7-8.
The rest of the book of Nehemiah is a marvelous study of "Godly management" in the face of "opposition". It would be worth your time spent digging into this marvelous book. The book also records the giving of the decree mentioned by the ancient Jewish Prophet Daniel in Daniel 9:25.
Daniel is setting the timeframe by which we can determine the period in history when the "Jewish Messiah" would come to Earth. Daniel 9:25 states that from the "commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah" would be 69 of the prophetic "70 weeks of Daniel" or in other words 483 of the 490 years that is revealed by Daniel's Prophecy.
The command or decree given by Artaxerxes was given in the year BC445. The presentation of Jesus Christ as the Messiah took place in AD30. This period of time, according to the Jewish calendar, would meet the requirements of Daniel's Prophecy and confirm that Jesus Christ was indeed the Jewish Messiah, as He had claimed.
By the way, the last seven years, Daniel 9:27, "the seventieth week", of that 490 year period, "Daniel’s Seventy Weeks", is the time described in Bible Prophecy as the "Tribulation Period", a terrible time of judgment yet in the future.
Daniel 9:27 says that period will be dominated by an Antichrist, a false peace in the Middle East and a Temple in Jerusalem. Though there is no Temple on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem now, all preparations have been made for there to be one soon. And world leaders are hard at work to bring about peace in the Middle East.
The stage is being set for Bible Prophecy to be fulfilled. The next event to take place is the Rapture of the Church, which could happen at any moment.
PRAYER THOT: Help me Lord to be a servant as Nehemiah was and be alert to the soon coming of the Messiah as I compare Bible Prophecy with current events.
Tuesday, July 23, 2013
Also the children of those that had been carried away, which were come out of the captivity, offered burnt offerings unto the God of Israel, twelve bullocks for all Israel, ninety and six rams, seventy and seven lambs, twelve he goats for a sin offering: all this was a burnt offering unto the LORD.
After the Temple was rebuilt by Zerubbabel and the almost fifty thousand Jews that he brought back from Babylon to raise up the Second Temple in Jerusalem, God called Ezra, the Scribe, to return from where he was living in Babylon back to Jerusalem, Ezra 7:6.
God had chosen Ezra to restart the Temple practices in this rebuilt Temple. By the way, it's interesting to note that Ezra was living in Babylon, the City, almost seventy-five years after the fall of the Babylonian Empire.
Now back to our devotional reading for today. Ezra was commissioned to return the implements of the Temple to this new Temple, for the sacrificial and worship activities, verses 24-30.
This that Ezra, and the priest did for the services at the Temple was a very important task. Each of the implements of the Temple was used to comply with the Lord's instructions for the Temple worship and sacrificial system.
In addition to all of these implements being used in the activities of the operation of the Temple, each of these vessels had a "prophetic significance" as it related to the coming Messiah. Jesus Christ, of course was the fulfillment of all of these prophecies.
The "Table of Show Bread" was a prototype of Jesus, the "Bread of Life". The "Menorah", the seven branch candelabra, was the precursor of Jesus, the "Light of the World". The "Ark of the Covenant" was a "type" of Jesus, the Jewish "Messiah" to come.
This is why the act of Ezra and the priest bringing these vessels back to the rebuilt Temple in Jerusalem was so important.
Our key verse for today, verse 35, reveals to us that "all twelve tribes" had returned to Jerusalem after the Babylonian Captivity, during this time period as well. There are no "ten lost tribes". All twelve tribes are now, and have been in the land of Israel for over 2,500 years. This fact is essential for additional Bible prophecy that is yet to be fulfilled, in the future
Isaiah had prophesied that a man named Cyrus would allow the Jews to return to the land and rebuild their Temple. Our devotional reading for today is the concluding chapter of these Jewish people returning to the land and rebuilding the Temple, which was facilitated by Cyrus, the King of the Medo-Persian Empire.
Indeed, Bible Prophecy that remains to be fulfilled will be fulfilled, as Isaiah's prophecy relating to Cyrus and the return of the Jews to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem was fulfilled some 2,500 years ago.
PRAYER THOT: Thank you Lord for prophecy that has been fulfilled, which is evidence that prophecy yet to be fulfilled, will be fulfilled.
Monday, July 22, 2013
For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the law of the LORD, and to do it, and to teach in Israel statutes and judgments.
Ezra is the author of the book, by his name, and most likely the author of I and II Chronicles. He is a scribe and will not only record the history of Israel but will serve at the Temple in Jerusalem.
In Ezra 1-6, we see the record of the rebuilding of the second temple by almost 50,000 Jews that came back from the Babylonian captivity when the Babylonian Empire fell. Zerubbabel led these Jews back to their homeland and was the "general contractor" in the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem.
With the Temple up and operating God now calls Ezra the Scribe to journey back to Jerusalem and become the Scribe at the Temple to lead the study of the Word of God. Ezra was well studied, "a ready scribe", Ezra 7, verse 6, in the "law of Moses", the Torah, which is the first five books of the Old Testament.
God opened the heart of the Persian king to allow Ezra to return to Jerusalem to do his "priestly duties". Verse 6 tells us that was the case because the "hand of the Lord his God was upon him" (Ezra).
Our key verse lays out for us Ezra's approach for teaching the Word of God which is also a great pattern for us to follow. Notice that in verse 10, Ezra "prepared his heart" first. Only a "prepared heart" will seek to know the Word of the Lord. Before Ezra would preach and teach the Word, he would "do it". Ezra knew he could not teach that which he was not willing to live by for his own life.
The final step in the process was the "teaching". Many times we put the cart ahead of the horse. We want to teach without first preparing our hearts. As we, I, seek to know the Word we must be living our lives by His Word before we venture out to teach it to anyone. What great principles we can appropriate for our own lives and ministries for today from the book of Ezra.
Before we leave our reading for today, I want you to notice a portion of two verses, verses 6 and 9. Ezra, before he returned to Jerusalem to be the scribe in the newly rebuilt Temple, was living in Babylon.
By the way, Biblical Babylon is located in Iraq on the shores of the Euphrates River today. It is the place where Antichrist will rule and reign over a "one world economic, political, governmental system" in the last three and a half years of the Tribulation period. The stage is being set for these Bible prophecies to be fulfilled.
Before these prophecies are fulfilled the Rapture will take place and we will leave this earth to go be with Jesus in the heavens. Current events that are taking place in Iraq, Biblical Babylon, are indeed setting the stage for Bible prophecy to be fulfilled, and I believe in the near future.
PRAYER THOT: As I understand current events in light of Biblical prophecy, help me, Lord, to live in light of Your soon return.