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Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Job 1:12

And the LORD said unto Satan, Behold, all that he hath is in thy power; only upon himself put not forth thine hand. So Satan went forth from the presence of the LORD.

For further study - Job 1:1-12

The narrative that we read today is from the record of a "man" that the Lord would allow Satan to test to the point of death. The book of Job was written some 500 years before Moses wrote the Torah, the first five books of the Old Testament. This makes Job the oldest book in the Bible. It also places Job as a Biblical personality that dates back before Moses.

Most likely Job would have been a contemporary of the patriarchal age and most likely alive at a time before Moses. The main character of the book, Job, was known as a man who "feared God" with a reverential fear, a fear that is actually the beginning of real wisdom. The truth of the matter is that Job was a man greatly respected in his home region and known as a great man, one who detested evil.

In a later devotional we shall learn more about Job, but suffice to say Job was a man that God had a special relationship with and a man the Lord would allow to be put to the test of faithfulness to the God of creation. I mention creation because in a future look at Job in another devotional God will ask him where his servant was when the Lord brought the worlds into existence, Job 38:4-7.

Our extended reading reveals that the devil has access to God and even the "good angels". The "sons of God", verse 6, would witness a meeting between God and Satan. This is of interest because since the fall of the angels, the ones who followed Lucifer in rebellion against the Lord of Heaven, the "evil angels" have not had access to the presence of God. Only Satan has daily access to God for a period of time that he spends accusing the brethren, Revelation 12:10.

Several things to notice about what God does with Satan. God allows Satan to be the instrument of affliction and to apply all the affliction he wanted on Job, short of taking his life, verse 12. This narrative also tells us that though Satan is the "king of this present world", God still has the controlling power over him.

Job was a righteous man, but notice affliction came upon him, allowed by God. Many today get into this philosophy that God makes us healthy, wealthy and happy. In the end Job loses his health, wealth and happiness, but is still a righteous man who is in the perfect will of God. This truth is "in the face" of much of the preaching today.

A true study of Job will bring about a sobering understanding of the ways of God in our lives. By the way, Satan will have his power until Jesus Christ returns to defeat him and cast him into the Lake of Fire, Revelation 20:7-10.

PRAYER THOUGHT: Help me to love and obey You dear Lord, as Job did, even in the face of either physical, economic or spiritual troubles.
Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Esther 9:28

And that these days should be remembered and kept throughout every generation, every family, every province and every city; and that these days of Purim should not fail from among the Jews, nor the memorial of them perish from their seed.
For further study – Esther 9:20-32

Our reading today is the record of the institution of the Jewish feast of Purim. This is a Jewish "holyday" when Jews around the world stop to remember how God continued His protection of His "chosen people", the Jewish people, some twenty-five hundred years ago.

The book of Esther records the events that led up to what could have been the complete annihilation of the Jewish people. As you may already know, Esther had come into the "kingdom" for such a time as the time the Lord would use her to save her people, the Jews.

Haman was killed on the gallows that he prepared for Mordecai and this brought an end to the wicked ways of the number two in the kingdom. But remember, the word had gone out across the world to have all the Jews killed.

Then King Ahasuerus had a letter sent throughout the one hundred and twenty-seven provinces of his kingdom to save the Jews from death. This is recorded in Esther 8. The King’s letter was followed by a letter from Mordecai, verse 20 of our extended reading, where the Jewish leader would call for all the Jews to celebrate the Jewish "feast of Purim".

In fact, this would be a two-day feast that the Jews were told to observe on an annual bases. It would be a time to remember how God had intervened to protect His people and it would be, as such, a prophecy of how He would do so in the future.

There are men in history that have followed the lead of Haman and tried to destroy the Jews. During World War II Hitler and his Nazi Army killed one third of the then living Jews, six million of them.

Today the wicked leaders of Iran have called a number of times for the nation of Israel to be "wiped off the face of the earth". This is an end times scenario that fits the prophetic passages that reveal a coalition of nations will move to destroy the Jews and Israel during the Tribulation Period, Ezekiel 38, and verse 5 where the Biblical name "Persia" is the nation of Iran today.

Each year as the Jews celebrate Purim they recall the days of Esther, but they also look to the future and realize that as their enemies come to destroy them the Lord will once again intervene to protect His people, the Jews.

This scenario for the future, found in Bible Prophecy, also tells us that the next event on God’s calendar of events prophetically is the Rapture, which could happen at any moment. There is not one prophecy to be fulfilled before the Rapture. We must keep looking up for this "any moment" event.

PRAYER THOUGHT: Thank you Lord for the record of your protection of the Jews and the reality that you will do so in the future. This is confirmation that you keep your promises, not only to the Jews but to me as a Christian as well.
Monday, September 28, 2015

Esther 7:10

So they hanged Haman on the gallows that he had prepared for Mordecai. Then was the king's wrath pacified.

For further study - Esther 7:1-10
I remind you again that the name of God is never used in the book of Esther; however, the "sovereign hand of God" is very evident throughout the entire book.

King Ahasuerus, the leader of the Medo-Persian Empire at the time of the book of Esther, had dethroned his first queen, Vashti, because she failed to obey his order.
By the way, King Ahasuerus took advise from the number two in his kingdom, Haman, on replacing Queen Vashti.
If you are familiar with the story of Esther, you remember that King Ahasuerus selected Esther to be his Queen without knowing that she was a Jewish woman.
Haman had plotted to have all the Jews in the Medo-Persian Empire killed because Mordecai had failed to bow to him. Esther decided that she had to approach the King on behalf of her people, the Jewish people.

She went into the king realizing that he could have her put to death also, along with all the Jewish people that Haman was about to have killed. She said, "If I perish, I perish".
In Esther 6, King Ahasuerus, unable to sleep one night, spent time listening to "the book of the records of the Chronicles" as they were read to him. In the course of listening, he heard how Mordecai, Queen Esther's cousin, had befriended the King and, in fact, had saved the life of the King, Esther 6:1-2.
The King then decided to honor Mordecai. Haman thought he was the one who was to be honored and when the Queen invited Haman to the banquet he realized that Esther had requested of the King that he would spare her life and the lives of her people, the Jewish people.
Now, read our extended reading for today to see how Haman ended up being hanged on the gallows he had prepared for the Queen's Jewish cousin, Mordecai.
This is such a beautiful story of how the Lord puts the right people in the right place for "such a time as He needs them to be there". This story is also evidence of how the Lord protects and sustains His people, the Jewish people, and has done so for 4,000 years.
Bible prophecy tells us the Lord will continue to protect the Jews because He has a special plan for them and plus He made promises to the Jews through the covenants that He must keep. The Lord is not finished with the Jewish people, He has an "eternal plan" for them that will be played put.

This plan includes the events recorded in Bible prophecy. The next event is the Rapture, when Jesus calls us to be with Him in the heavenlies. There is no prophecy that must be fulfilled before the Rapture, and it could happen today, keep looking up.
PRAYER THOUGHT: Thank you Lord for Your faithfulness to the Jewish people, it gives me the assurance that You will do the same for me.
Sunday, September 27, 2015

Esther 4:14

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?

For further study - Esther 4:1-17

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 THOUGHT: Lord, please give me the strength to do Your will no matter what the circumstances, even if it means I will perish.
Saturday, September 26, 2015

Esther 3:6

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.

For further study - Esther 3:1-6

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 THOUGHT: 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.
Friday, September 25, 2015

Esther 1:5

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;

For further study - Esther 1:1-9

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.

The significance of the flow of a prophetic scenario unfolding in the story line of this Biblical record is several fold. Verse 9 reveals that Vashti is the queen. Further reading of Esther 1 speaks of Vashti's refusal to obey the King and thus she was removed from her royal position.

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 THOUGHT: Thank you for your presence, your provision, and your protection for me on a daily basis.
Thursday, September 24, 2015

Nehemiah 10:39

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.

For further study - Nehemiah 10:1-39

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.

Nehemiah 10:1
 points out the families that made this vow and verse 28 shows us that the Jews separated themselves from the other people and unto the "law of the Lord". They made a strong vow, an oath, to walk in Gods law and do all that they observed and to do all it commanded them to do.

Walking in the law of the Lord was made manifest in their giving of their wealth to the service of the Temple, verse 32Verse 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 THOUGHT: 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.
Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Nehemiah 8:8

So they read in the book in the law of God distinctly, and gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading.

For further study - Nehemiah 8:1-18

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.

First the people would "read" the Word. Notice how they would read from the Torah, the first five books of the Bible. The teacher, Ezra, would stand behind a pulpit, Nehemiah 8:4, and the people would stand as Ezra would read the "holy scriptures", Nehemiah 8:5.

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 THOUGHT: Help me Lord to read Your Word, understand it and obey it.
Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Nehemiah 6:16

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.

For further study - Nehemiah 6:1-16

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 we come to the sixth chapter of Nehemiah, we see that the job has been completed, verse 15. This was a very fine bit of civil engineering, to repair the walls and the streets of a war-torn city. Actually it had taken only 52 days to do all of this work in this devastated city, verse 15.

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 THOUGHT: 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.
Monday, September 21, 2015

Nehemiah 4:17

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.

For further study - Nehemiah 4:10-23

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 THOUGHT: 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.
Sunday, September 20, 2015

Nehemiah 2:6

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.

For further study - Nehemiah 1 and 2

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 THOUGHT: 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.
Saturday, September 19, 2015

Ezra 8:35

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.

For further study - Ezra 8:24-36

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.

The Empire fell, but the City has never been destroyed which Bible prophecy calls for in the last days, Isaiah 13 & 14Jeremiah 50 & 51 and Revelation 16:17-21.

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 THOUGHT: Thank you Lord for prophecy that has been fulfilled, which is evidence that prophecy yet to be fulfilled, will be fulfilled.
Friday, September 18, 2015

Ezra 7:10

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.

For further study - Ezra 7:1-10

Ezra was the author of the book, by his name, and most likely the author of I and II Chronicles. He was a scribe and not only recorded the history of Israel but served 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.

Ezra 7 is a record of events over 80 years after the fall of the Babylonian Empire, Daniel 5, and the city of Babylon is still standing. Babylon the Empire fell in 539BC but Babylon the city did not fall. Babylon was a thriving city some 80 years after the downfall of the Babylonian Empire.

The significance of this information is that the prophecies of Isaiah 13 and 14Jeremiah 50 and 51Revelation 16 and 18 about the destruction of Babylon had not been fulfilled 80 years after the fall of the Babylonian Empire.

The destruction of Babylon foretold in Revelation 16:17-21 is a yet future event that will be fulfilled at the end of the Tribulation period. In fact, the destruction of Babylon is the last thing the Lord Jesus Christ does before he comes back to the earth, Zechariah 14:4.

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 THOUGHT: As I understand current events in light of Biblical prophecy, help me, Lord, to live in light of Your soon return.
Thursday, September 17, 2015

Ezra 6:15

And this house was finished on the third day of the month Adar, which was in the sixth year of the reign of Darius the king.

For further study - Ezra 6:15-22

The portion of scripture for today's devotional reading, and the extended reading is a record of the completion of the building of the Second Temple and the dedicatory service to follow. It also records the observance of the first of the seven Jewish feast days, the Passover.

This sixth chapter of Ezra is key to understanding how God fulfills prophecy and how He will fulfill prophecy.

In chapter one of Ezra we read about the fulfillment of Isaiah's prophecy about a leader named Cyrus who would come to power and allow the Jews to go to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple destroyed by the Babylonians, Isaiah 44:28 Ezra 1:2-3.

In chapter two of this book written by the scribe, Ezra, we see the record of the families from the twelve tribes of Israel who did return to Jerusalem to rebuild that temple.

Ezra three to five records how the Jewish people did not set as a priority the building of the temple but instead looked to their own needs.

Notice Ezra 5:1 where we see that the two Jewish prophets, Haggai and Zechariah, are used by God to preach to the Jews in Judah to be about the task of building the temple (At this point in a reading through the Bible one should read both Haggai and Zechariah).

The prophecies of Haggai and Zechariah have both a short-term fulfillment and a long-term fulfillment. The Jewish returnees from Babylon were exhorted by these two prophets to rebuild the temple which they finally did as they had been directed.

Our key verse and the extended reading are the record of the temple being rebuilt and dedicated; however, this was done twenty-five years after the Jews returned to Jerusalem and only under pressure from Haggai and Zechariah.

This Temple was the Second Temple that was still standing in Jerusalem on the Temple Mount in the days of Jesus Christ. In 70 AD, this Temple was destroyed and another Temple will be rebuilt on the Temple Mount; in fact, two more temples will stand there in Jerusalem.

Zechariah 6:12 tells us that the "Branch", another name for Jesus, will build His temple where He will rule and reign, in the Kingdom to come.

However, there will be another temple in Jerusalem before Messiah builds His Temple. Daniel 9:27, Matthew 24:15II Thessalonians 2:4 & Revelation 11:2 reveal there will be a Temple in the Tribulation Period. That Tribulation Temple will be the location for the "image of the beast", a symbol of the Antichrist, Revelation 13:14-15.

All preparations have been made for the building of that temple. The Jews could start erecting that temple any day. Please remember that our reading today in Ezra 6 reveals the Temple of his day was rebuilt. These other two temples are yet future. The stage has been set for the next two Temples to be built in Jerusalem on the Temple Mount.

There is only one prophecy that must be fulfilled before the Jewish people can start to build that Temple. That prophecy is the Rapture of the Church, with Jesus calling us to join Him in the "air", in the heavens, and to be with Him forever, I Thessalonians 4:13-18. The Rapture can happen at any moment, even today. Keep looking up.

PRAYER THOUGHT: Thank you, Lord, for fulfilled prophecy that sets the stage for other prophecies to be fulfilled.
Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Ezra 2:1

Now these are the children of the province that went up out of the captivity, of those which had been carried away, whom Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon had carried away unto Babylon, and came again unto Jerusalem and Judah, every one unto his city;

For further reading - Ezra 2:1-70

I know exactly what you are going to do for the extended reading today. You will skim quickly through the list of names of the heads of families and how many of each family will return to Jerusalem for the purpose of rebuilding the Temple.

By the way, this will be the Second Temple to be built in Jerusalem. The first was the one Solomon built around BC 1000. This Temple will be erected around 500 years before the birth of Christ by the names on the list that is our reading for today.

The first chapter of Ezra records the fulfillment of Isaiah's prophecy that God would raise up a Persian leader, Cyrus, who would allow a number of Jews to return to Jerusalem and build the Second Temple.

God raised up Zerubbabel to lead the almost 50,000 Jews back to the land of Israel, to Jerusalem to build the Temple. Ezra 2 records the heads of family, where they lived, and how many of their family would travel back to Jerusalem. This is a very important list that Ezra includes in his history book.

Let me answer your question not mentioned. Why read this passage? What can we learn from this information? That is a good question. Let me remind you that II Timothy 3:16 tells us that all scripture is profitable.

Let me introduce you to that which helps us see that God was allowing for all the Jewish people to return to the land. However, a smaller number than the entire Jewish population will return to build the Temple. There are included in this list peoples from all twelve tribes of Israel, meaning all twelve tribes or their representatives would travel back into the land of Israel.

These almost 50,000 Jews were not just people from the two southern tribes, Benjamin and Judah, which was known as Judah. We will see that when the Babylonians captured the Assyrians who had taken the ten northern tribes into captivity all twelve tribes would be joined together once again. Some from all twelve tribes would return to Israel at this time.

Two examples. The men of Bethel in verse 28 who were of the tribe of Ephraim. Also verse 29 speaks of the children of Nebo, which is on the eastern side of the Jordan River and was given to the tribe of Reuben. There are other tribes mentioned in this list, which helps us know that members of all twelve tribes returned to the land under the Medes and the Persians.

This proves there are no "lost tribes" and also that a prophecy of two Jewish states in the future, Ezekiel 37:15-23, could be ready for fulfillment in the near future (see my study of Ezekiel). Verse 70, "all of Israel in their cities".

The stage is set for Ezekiel's "two Jewish states" prophecy to be fulfilled. Today Jews have returned to the land of Israel as one people in one Jewish state. Ezekiel reveals two Jewish states in the future and the stage is set for that to happen.

Bible prophecy will be fulfilled.

PRAYER THOUGHTThank you Lord for Bible Prophecy that has been fulfilled in the past, which is a basis for me to believe that all unfulfilled Bible prophecy will be fulfilled.