Lesson 10 – For Further Reading

March 2, 2009

Israel versus The Church

I.    The OT speaks much of Israel, the land and the people.  Almost the whole post-exilic period is about this.  The focus was on the Land, the Temple, the Laws, and being in obedience and faithful to the God who revealed Himself to these people.

OT

  • 2 Kings 17:5-15, 18-19; Jeremiah 1:13-16; 2:1-13        Israel’s land was taken away and the Temple destroyed.
  • Amos 8:1-3        Punishment on the people and land.
  • Zerubbabel – rebuilt the Temple
  • Nehemiah – rebuilt the Walls (such a focus on the actual place of Jerusalem)

II.      The NT seems to silence the talk about the land and the people.  The focus is now about The Church (The family of Faith–Gentiles included) and being in Christ and faithfully becoming more like Him.

NT

  • Ephesians 3:1-12      The Gentiles join into the riches of The Church
  • Romans 9:6-8         Not all Israel is Israel
  • Acts 3:24-26          Fulfillment of the prophecies to Abraham
  • Hebrews 12:18-24    Mount Zion and the City of the Living God.
  • Revelation 7:1-17    (9) The throne is filled with all nations.

The Temple

  • Revelation 19:15-19, The Temple and Ark of the Covenant are in heaven, not on Earth.
  • Acts 7:45-50, Stephen is stoned because of downplaying the Temple
  • 1 Cor. 3:16-17; 6:19-20; 2 Cor. 6:16, The Church = The Temple
  • Eph 2:19-22, Gentiles are part of the Temple of God
  • 1 Peter 2:4-5, The Church = priesthood (breaking down the Levi wall)
  • Romans 12:1, Bodies are a living sacrifice
  • Revelation 21:9-10, 22-22:5, Heaven is a scene w/o Israel, only the Lamb’s bride-The Church.

Sin, Judgment, and Mercy

I.    God takes disobedience seriously.  There was judgment on those whom He loved and was committed to.

Habakkuk (circa 612 B.C.) was shocked that God would judge His people by the means of an even less righteous people.  1:1-4, 12-14

Just as there is a common grace (rains on all) to all men, so the righteous, at times, endure the judgment of the unrighteous (Daniel, Nehemiah, Jeremiah, etc.).

Ezra was reading the Law and the leaders were interpreting.  Hear how they interpret God’s judgment on sin.

  • Nehemiah 9:5-8, 16-21, 26-31    A display of God’s long-suffering, Israel’s sin and God’s judgment.

II.    Nehemiah showed fear over God’s people going back into disobedience.  He was afraid of more judgment and a return to exile.  He repeatedly asked God to remember his own good deeds.

There was a fear of God repunishing the disobedience of the remnant:

  • Ezra 9:6-15     Ezra repents for the people and asks for God’s mercy
  • Nehemiah 13:14, 22, 29-30    Continually asks God to remember him even though God may repunish the remnant.
  • Corporate prayer, confession, ownership of sin, is very biblical.  You are not in this alone.  It is not just you and Jesus.

III.    God continually shows long suffering to his promises and mercy to the brokenhearted.

  • Isaiah 1:18; 40:1-5; 45:22; 49:15; 54:8

Messiah = ‘anointed’

  • A messiah was looked for to relieve the burdens of occupation of the Promised Land – The Day of the Lord.
  • The prophet’s words were read to direct them to the Messiah.
  • The lineage of David is key and yet it was minimized during the Roman rule.

The Messiah was going to be of David’s line, bring about an everlasting kingdom, and allow God’s people to dwell in the temple forever.

1.  Davidic Lineage on Throne
•    Genesis 49:10 – Scepter will not depart from Judah until Shiloh comes.
•    2 Samuel 7:12-16; Psalm 89:19-37; 132:11ff
•    Perpetual sovereignty to David’s house.

Fall of Israel and Judea

Prophets began to speak of the return of David’s house.
•    Amos 9:11-15  (mid-8th century B.C.)
•    Is. 9:6-7
•    Is. 42:1-9  (739-686 B.C.)
•    Is. 44:21-28
•    Ez. 34:23; 37:24-37 (2 Cor. 6:16)

2.  The Day of Yahweh
A day when the ideal is realized and the vindication of Yahweh’s cause in the world would bring security for His people.  This was partial fulfilled by Zerubbabel.
•    Is. 11:1-10
•    Jeremiah 23:5-8; 33:14-22 / Zechariah 6:12-15

The Messiah would completely fulfill the prophecy.
•    Isaiah 40:1-5; 42:1-9
•    Luke 1:67-79,  Zechariah’s hymn

Israel was thinking more about a Messiah around the birth of Jesus than ever before in their history.

Post-Exilic Israel

Events / Places / People

  • Israel (Northern Kingdom) Captivity – Assyria (722 B.C.)
  • Judah (Southern Kingdom) Captivity – Babylon (586 B.C.)
  • Daniel Deported (605 B.C.)
  • Medo-Persian Empire conquers Babylon (539 B.C.)
  • Temple rebuilding began by Zerubbabel under Cyrus’ proclamation (536 B.C.)
  • Temple is finished (516 B.C.)
  • Darius I turned back from Greece at Marathon (490 B.C.)
  • Xerxes is turned back from Greece at Thermoplyae & Salamis (480 B.C.)
  • Xerxes marries Esther (479 B.C.)
  • Esther protects the Jews from genocide (479-473 B.C.)
  • Ezra leads second return in 458 B.C.
  • Nehemiah began to rebuild Jerusalem’s walls under Artaxerxes I (445 B.C.)
  • Alexander the Great conquers the empire of Persia and beyond (334-323 B.C.)
  • The Ptolomies rule Judea (323-198 B.C.) – Jews prosper
  • The Seleucidae rule Judea (198-166 B.C.) – Persecutions
  • The Maccabees gain independence for Judea (166-135 B.C.)
  • The Hasmoneans serve as Rome’s appointed rulers over Judea (135-63 B.C.)
  • Herod The Great rules over Judea (37-4 B.C.)
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Lesson 10 – Esther

March 2, 2009

ESTHER

INTRODUCTION
•    Dead Sea Scrolls / Esther not mentioned
•    God’s name is not mentioned in the book of Esther

Take Away Point #1
A Biblical worldview is more than just talk.

SETTING
A.  The setting is during the Persian King Xerxes’ reign (486 – 465 B.C.)
•    Story is tucked away in the Persian capital Shushan and it is about the remaining Jews after Zerubbabel’s temple rebuilding campaign and before Nehemiah’s rebuilding of Jerusalem’s walls.
•    The year is 483 B.C.

B.  Author of Esther is unknown.
•    Written after Xerxes’ reign (10:2)
•    Author had extensive knowledge of Persian customs, etiquette, history, the palace of Shushan, and Hebrew culture and calendar.
•    Mordecai, Ezra, and Nehemiah have been suggested.
•    Could have been one of Mordecai’s assistants.

Take Away Point #2
Some of our greatest deeds may go unnoticed.

C.  Xerxes was preparing for his invasion of Greece.
1.    To finish what his father Darius had begun
2.    3rd year of his reign
3.    483 B.C.

An Old Feud

The historic strife between Haman and Mordecai goes back 1000 years to when the Jews exited Egypt (1453 B.C.). They were attacked by the Amalekites (Ex. 17:8-16), whose lineage was Amalek, son of Esau (Gen 36:12). God cursed the Amalekites–they were to be totally eliminated as a people (Ex. 17:14; Deut. 25:17-19). Saul (1030 B.C.) received orders to kill all the Amalekites, including their king Agag (1 Sam. 15:2,3); he disobeyed (15:7-9). Samuel finally hacked him to pieces (15:32, 33). King David fought them in 1 Sam. 30:1-20 and Hezekiah removed them from the land. However, they we not eliminated as a people. Saul was a Benjamite. Because of his lineage to Agag and Mordecai’s lineage to Benjamin, Haman hated the Jews and especially Mordecai. 550 years later, neither Mordecai nor Haman had forgotten the old feud.

Two Enemies Meet for Battle (2:19-7:10)
#1    Mordecai had overheard a plot on the King’s life in the city gate.  He informed Esther of Bigthan and Teresh’s plot.  They were hanged and Mordecai’s name was written in the king’s book of chronicles (2:21-23).

The Persian execution consisted of being impaled.  It is likely they were the inventors of the crucifixion.

#2    Haman, the Agagite, was promoted above all the princes in his region.  All the king’s servants in the king’s gate were commanded to bow and pay homage to Haman.

•    Mordecai refused to bow or pay homage to Haman (3:2).
•    Mordecai gave Haman the opportunity he needed to destroy all the Jews in the kingdom of Xerxes.
•    This all happened in the 1st month of the 12th year of Xerxes.
•    Lots “pur” were cast to determine the day of death–the 12th month of the 12th year of Xerxes (3:7).

•    Xerxes allowed his signet ring to seal the doom of the Jews.

Take Away Point #3
Enemies in the land will not become your friend.

4:1-3    Mordecai sees the danger to himself and the Jew.  He, along with the rest of the Jews in the kingdom, was totally distraught.
4:8-12    Mordecai asks Esther to intercede for the Jews.  Esther said it is not as simple as that, it could lead to her death.
4:13-14  Mordecai warns Esther her life is at risk as well and that God may have raised her up for such a time as this.
4:15-17  Esther agrees.

THE MAKING OF A QUEEN (1:1-2:18)

The Existing Queen is Banished
•    Xerxes (Ahasuerus) is in the 3rd year of his reign.
•    His kingdom is immense (India to Ethiopia)
•    This feast is during the planning stage of his march on Greece (1:3)
•    Queen Vashti also had a feast in the Royal palace.  She was the mother of Artaxerxes.
•    The Queen refused the request of the king to enter his presence (1:11-12).
•    Xerxes was furious and under the advice of Memucan he banished Queen Vashti from his presence.  The royal position was to go to another (1:19).

A New Queen is Chosen
•    A quest was made of the provinces for beautiful young virgins.  They were brought to the place for beauty preparations.
•    Mordecai, a Benjamite had been caring for his cousin, Hadassah (Esther).  She was chosen for the contest.
•    Esther did not tell, due to Mordecai’s warning, about her Jewishness.
•    During this choosing of Esther, Xerxes had invaded Greece and was turned away at Salamis.

•    Upon his return, the King chose Esther as the new queen during the month of Tebeth (10th) of his 7th year.

Three Stories and One Night (5-7)

1.  Esther is hosting two banquets for Xerxes and Haman in order to request her own life and the life of the Jews.

2. Haman is puffed up with self-importance and plans a special execution for Mordecai.

3. Mordecai is being elevated in the eyes of the King due to his exposure of the assassination attempt five years prior.

It all comes together:
•    Esther plans two banquets for Xerxes and Haman in order to reveal Haman’s plot.
•    Haman plans to hang Mordecai on a 50 cubits (75’) gallows.
•    The King discovers that Mordecai was never rewarded for saving the King’s life.
•    Mordecai is exalted with Haman’s own words (who thought it was for himself)
•    Haman is exposed by Esther as the impetus of the plot.
•    The King is furious that someone would attempt genocide on the Jews, which includes his wife.
•    Haman beseeches Esther for help and Xerxes sees this as an assault.
•    Haman is hanged on the gallows he made for Mordecai.

The Plans of God are not Thwarted (8:1-9:17)
8:1-17     Under Mordecai’s council, Esther asked Xerxes to counteract the scheme of Haman.  What resulted was permission for the Jews to slaughter those who were their enemies (v. 11).
8:17    “Many of the people of the land became Jews, because fear of the Jews fell upon them.”

9:1-17  About 76,000 people (including the Amalekites) are killed.

Take Away Point #4
God’s promises are kept.  Time is not a sparse commodity to Him.

Take Away Point #5
There is a unity between God’s sovereignty and man’s will.

The Feast of Purim (9:18-32)
•    Named after the Akkadian word for “lot” – 3:7; 9:26.  “The Lot is cast into the lap, But its every decision is from the Lord” Prov. 16:33
•    Annual, two-day holiday of feasting, rejoicing, sending food to another, and giving gifts to the poor – 9:21, 22.
•    Decreed to be celebrated in every generation – 9:27, 28.
•    Esther added the feature of fasting with lamentation – 9:31
•    The feast is not mentioned again in the Bible.  However, it has been celebrated throughout the centuries in Israel.

Mordecai’s Advancement (10:1-3)
•    Was raised to ‘second to the king’.
•    He was great among the Jews.
•    He was esteemed by the people.

•    He was put in the ranks of Joseph and Daniel.

Take Away Point #6
Secular and difficult life circumstances are within God’s design.

Esther

Take Away Points

#1    A Biblical worldview is more than just talk.
God’s name is not mentioned and Xerxes’ is mentioned 175 times!  Does God exist only because we speak His name?  Is He still sovereign if we have not declared it so?  So our lives can display His presence even though our speech may not be peppered with religious terms.  Let us not fall into the trap of Jesse as the prophet Samuel was picking the next king of Israel.  Though talk is crucial, it is the heart to which God is looking.  A biblical worldview is found in how one thinks and what is found in the heart.  It is not necessarily found in the words they choose to say.  Talk is cheap.

#2      Some of our greatest deeds may go unnoticed.
Just as we do not know who wrote the book of Esther (and it has been read for centuries by millions), much of our life events may not go recognized in the future.  Faithfulness, contentment, and their service of God should be our daily mindset.

#3      Enemies in the land will not become your friend.
Disobedience does have a way of festering, only to raise its ugly head.  The earlier you slay the enemy in your land the better it is.

#4      God’s promises are kept.
Time is not a sparse commodity to Him.  He will do His will when He wants to do it.  We are so time-driven.  We can’t image building a cathedral which takes more than one lifetime.  However, God builds plans and executes them over many lifetimes.

#5    There is a unity between God’s sovereignty and man’s will.
The lives of Esther, Xerxes, Mordecai, Haman, and the Amalekites are an amazing testimony to God’s ability to carry out His will and purposes through human being who are making real choices and decision to which they are held accountable.  “A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.”  Prov. 16:9

#6     Secular or difficult life circumstances are within God’s design.
Esther served as a queen.  Mordecai served in a secular administration.  These two were doing God’s will.  Likewise, serving God and His will is not only found in pastoring, church staff positions, missionaries, and in para-church organizations.  Here Mordecai’s words to Esther, “Who knows that you have not be put in your position for such a time as this?”


Lesson 10 – Nehemiah

February 24, 2009

Nehemiah

INTRODUCTION
•    Abraham and sacrifice  of Isaac on Mt. Moriah (Genesis 22)
•    David’s city and buying plot of land on Mt. Moriah (1 Chronicles 21:18-22:1)
•    Temple built on plot of land on Mt. Moriah (2 Chronicles 3:1)

Take Away Point #1
There are great threads holding history together.

REVIEW
1.    Assyrians deport 10 tribes of Israel in 722 B.C.
2.    Babylonians sack and depopulate Judah in 586 B.C.
3.    70 years of captivity
4.    Cyrus the Great decrees to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem
5.    Zerubbabel  leads first return with exiles in 539 B.C. (Ezra 1-6)
6.    Esther protects the Jews from genocide in 483-473 B.C.
7.    Ezra leads second return in 458 B.C. (Ezra 7-10)

THE SETTING (1:1-11)
•    Reign of Artaxerxes (464-423 B.C.)
•    20th year of his reign – 446 B.C.
•    Step-mother was Esther  – she may have influenced Artaxerxes’ view of Jerusalem and of Nehemiah’s position.
•    Opposition to the rebuilding of Jerusalem was somewhat successful since Ezra returned 13 years earlier.  The walls were broken down and the gates were burned with fire.  In addition, the people were in great distress.
•    Nehemiah was a cupbearer to the king.
>   Genesis 40:1 – ‘butler’ was the cupbearer.
>  ‘purer of hands’
>  confidants and had the royal ear

Take Away Point #2
It is a mistake to think that only Christians will do the right thing.

THE JOURNEY (2:1-20)
The Request
•    Permission granted
•    Letters provided for safe passage, to acquire timber, and a house in which to live.

Viewing the Walls
•    3 days of contemplating strategy
•    Night viewing of the walls
•    Gathering of Jewish officials, nobles, and priests to tell them the plan.  They agreed.

Enemies Identified
•    Sanballat the Horonite (governor of Samaria – probably a Moabite – Horonaim was a city in Moab)
•    Tobiah the Ammonite (district magistrate – region east of the Jordan)
•    Geshem the Arab (district magistrate south of Jerusalem)

THE REBUILDING OF THE WALLS (3:1-7:73)
Assignments
•    The work was administrated by breaking it down into bit-size chunks and having families work together.

Seven Attempts to Stop the Work
2:19    Sanballat, Tobiah, and Gerem mocked Nenemiah
4:1-3    Sanballat and Tobiah mocked Nehemiah
4:7-23    The enemy threatened a military attack
6:1-4    Sanballat and Geshem attempted to lure Nehemiah outside of Jerusalem to Ono.
6:10-14    Shemaiah, Noadiah, and others were paid to prophesy falsely and discredit Nehemiah.
6:17-19    Tobiah had spies in Jerusalem and wrote Nehemiah letters in order to frighten him.

Take Away Point #3
Discouragement comes in many forms.

Completion
•    25th day of Elul (445 B.C.)
•    52 days after beginning the work
•    All the enemies were disheartened in their own eyes and they perceived that the work was done by God.

Take Away Point #4
Can we think of a work which, if done, will demonstrate God’s existence?

The Register
•    Nehemiah found this register of those who returned with Zerubbabel.
•    There are some minor discrepancies between this list and the one in Ezra 2:1-70.  This is possibly due to Ezra listing those who intended to return and Nehemiah finding the list of those who actually arrived.

THE REBUILDING OF THE PEOPLE (8:1-13:30)

Reading Law
8:2-3    Reading from morning until midday
8:8       There were certain men who were helping the people to understand the reading
9:3      Listened to Law 1/4th of the day.

Confession of Sin
8:9-10      Weeping was a sign of remorse and repentance.  Regret was important, but Nehemiah wanted them to move towards forgiveness and the joy of the Lord.
9:2      Confession of their sins and the sins of their fathers.

Worship
8:13-18      The Celebration of the Feast of Tabernacles
9:3      Confessed and worshipped 1/4th of the day.

Covenants / Oaths – 10:29-39
•    Not to intermarry
•    Honor Sabbath
•    Gifts to Temple / Tithe
•    Obey Commandments

Take Away Point #5
It takes more than walls to make the city of God.

Nehemiah’s Reforms as Second Term as Governor – 13:6
13:7-9    Removed Tobiah’s room from the courts of the house of God
13:10-14    Restored the law of Tithing.
•    The Priests had to perform duties and then go out in the field and work.
13:15-22    Restored the Sabbath
•    Stopped the selling of provisions
•    Stopped Gentiles from selling to the Jews on the Sabbath
•    Closed the gates on the Sabbath and removed the merchants at the gates
•    Posted Levites to protect the Sabbath.
13:23-29    Restored pure marriages
•    The Jews had intermarried with Ashdod, Ammon, and Moab.  Some of the children could not even speak Hebrew.
•    Nehemiah contended with them, cursed them, pulled out their hair, and made them swear to be holy.

13:31    Nehemiah ends by praying for himself to be remembered as one who brought goodness to God’s people.

Take Away Point #6
Nehemiah’s holiness seemed to be motivated by fear of judgment.

TIME LINE OF NEHEMIAH

1:1, 4           Nov./Dec.  446 B.C. (Kislev)        Nehemiah hears of problems and prays.
2:1,5           Mar./Apr.  445 B.C. (Nisan)         Nehemiah is dispatched to Jerusalem.
3:1; 6:15    July/Aug.  445 B.C. (Ab)             Nehemiah starts the wall.
6:15            Aug/Sept. 445 B.C. (Elul)             Nehemiah completes the wall
7:73           Sept./Oct. 445 B.C. (Tishri)          Day of Trumpets celebrated (implied).
8:13-15     Sept./Oct. 445 B.C. (Tishri)        Feast of Tabernacles Celebrated.
9:1              Sept./Oct. 445 B.C. (Tishri)        Time of confession.
12:27        Sept./Oct. 445 B.C. (Tishri)        Wall dedicated.
13:6           445-433 B.C.                                 Nehemiah’s 1st term as governor (Neh. 1-12)
13:6           433-424 B.C. (?)                         Nehemiah returns to Persia.
433-? B.C.                                   Malachi prophesies in Jerusalem
13:1,4,7   424 B.C.                                   Nehemiah returns for second term as governor

Nehemiah

Take Away Points

#1 There are great threads holding history together.
Just as there are light, sound, radio, and microwaves travelling through the air without our seeing them, so there are spiritual threads woven throughout history and holding it together. We are contained within a movement of God’s thought, actions, and purposes.

#2 It is a mistake to think that only Christians will do the right thing.
Even though someone is not regenerated with the Spirit of God, they can receive counsel to do the right thing. Christian have historically changed the course of communities, states, and nations by speaking truth into a situation. Though their motives are not always biblical, an unredeemed leader may receive biblical counsel with the attitude of, “This is good advice. Why didn’t I think of that?”

#3 Discouragement comes in many forms.
Nehemiah was bombarded by discouraging words and deeds at least 7 times. Calling, prayer, and a sense of rightness – along with the work of the Holy Spirit – are the weapons used to fight the enemy of discouragement.

#4 Can we think of a work which, if done, will demonstrate God existence?
In the 50’s Francis and Edith Schaeffer left a pastorate in St. Louis and ended up on the side of a mountain in French speaking Switzerland. They sensed that what the post-war Europe needed was a demonstration of God’s existence. They began to live their lives based off of principles which would do just that–demonstrate God’s existence to a watching world. What would people say if our lives were watched? “They live differently” or “They do not live alone . . . it appears as if God really is there!”

#5 It takes more than walls to make the city of God.
After the walls went up (in a relatively short period of time) God used Nehemiah to bring about reforms with the people. A home is more than a house, a life is more than a body, and a biblical mind is more than memorized doctrines or scriptures. There must be a transformation and restoration of the fabric of our heart, soul, and mind..

#6 Nehemiah’s holiness seemed to be motivated by fear of judgment.
13:8; 13:26 – God had judged people in the past for certain sins. Nehemiah believed He would do so again. Why would we think otherwise? Nehemiah asked God to remember him several times (13:14, 22, 30). There seemed to be a sense of community and God’s communal judgment. Nehemiah wanted to be distinguished out in God’s eyes . . . especially when it came to judgment.

neiamap

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jerneh

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Lesson 10 – Ezra

February 24, 2009

EZRA

INTRODUCTION
Three Deportations into Babylonian Captivity
1.  605 B.C. – Nebuchanezzar, Jehoiakim deported to Babylon
2.  597 B.C. – Nebuchanezzar, Zedekiah put as vassal king
3.  586 B.C. – Nebuchadnezzar takes Jerusalem, temple destroyed, and city is leveled.

Length of Captivity (70 years)  Jer. 25:11-12; 29:10
•    Jeremiah’s dates of prophesying are 627 B.C – 586 B.C.
•    Temple destroyed 586 B.C. / Temple finished 516 B.C.

Three Returns from Babylonian Captivity
1.    538 B.C. – led by Sheshbazzar / Ez 1:1 [1st year of Cyrus]
2.    458 B.C. – led by Ezra / Ez. 7:7 [7th year of Artaxerxes]
3.    444 B.C. – led by Nehemiah / Neh. 2:1 [20th year of Artaxerxes]

1st RETURN
A.    Why so early in his reign? (1:1)
•    Josephus has Daniel, serving as Prime Minister, reading the prophecy of Isaiah to     Cyrus / Is. 44:24-28; 45:11-13
•    Isaiah ministered to Judah from 739-686 B.C. (Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, Hezekiah)  Cyrus’ proclamation was in 538 B.C. – 150 years later.

B.    Details of Cyrus’ Edit (Ezra 1:2-4; 6:3-5)
•    Personal order for the rebuild.
•    Cost defrayed from King’s account.
•    Certain specifications to be met in the rebuilding.
•    All Jews could return if they wished.
•    Those Jews who remained in Babylon were urged to assist financially.
•    Original temple articles, taken by Nebuchadnezzar, were to be returned.

C.    Zerubbabel and Jeshua as their leaders
•    Zerubbabel was of the lineage of David through Jehoiakin (1 Ch. 3:17)
•    Jesus was Zerubbabel’s descendant (Matt. 1:12-13)
•    Jeshua served as the High Priest in the lineage of Aaron.  His father, Jozadak was exiled under Nebuchadnezzar (1 Chr. 6:15)

D.    Relatively Few Return (2:1-70)
•    42,360 (besides 7,337 servants and 200 singers)
•    Probably 2-3 million in exile

E.    Altar and Festival of Booths (3:1-6)
•    Zerubbabel and Jeshua put the altar in place
•    The Feast of Tabernacles (v. 4)  Sept-Oct 537 B.C.
•    Reminiscent of the Exodus out of Egypt (Lev. 23)

F.    Building Temple and Opposition (3:8-4:5)
•    When foundation was laid, praise began (3:10-11)
•    Tears were shed by those who knew the original temple (3:12-13)
•    Outsiders trying to sabotage the work (probably these where Assyrians and Babylonians who were placed in this land just as the Israelites were placed in other lands.)

G.    Discrepancy in Text and Time (Insert 4:6-23)
•    This is an insert by Ezra to show how there was opposition to all that the Hebrews were doing in the land regarding the temple and the rebuilding of the walls.
•    It is not sequential.  This is a literary technique.

H.    Prophets Exhortation to Build (5:1-2)
•    Haggai
•    Zechariah
a)    1:1     8th month of 2nd year of Darius.
b)    1:3-6    The Lord exhorts the exiles to not be like their fathers who pass away with time, but to take heed of His statues which stand forever.
c)    6:9-15   Joshua will finish the temple and be the priest.  However, this is a prophetic illustration of the Messiah (Joshua = Jesus) who will build the Temple of the Lord and bear the glory, rule on the throne, etc.

I.    King Darius gets involved (5:3-6:11)
•    The Governor of the land questions the rebuilding
•    The Jews keep building as a letter is sent to King Darius
•    King Darius finds Cyrus’ Edict in the annuals of the Persian kings.  This was found in Achmetha, in the province of Media.

J.    Dedication of Temple (6:13-22)
•    Temple finish on Feb/Mar of 516 B.C. – 6th year of Darius’ reign
•    The people reestablished the Passover and The Feast of Unleavened Bread

2nd RETURN
1)    Ezra description (7:1-10)
•    Lineage to Aaron the High Priest
•    Skilled Scribe in Law of Moses
•    Prepared heart to seek the Law of the Lord, to do it, and to teach it.

2)    Ezra leaves Persia (8:1-36)
•    Assemble at the River Ahava
•    Prepared fast and prayer
•    No help from King Artaxerxes desired – only wanted the Lord to receive credit

3)    Sins of the people (9:1-5)
•    Intermarriages
•    The Holy Seed was mixed
•    Deuteronomy 7:2, 3

4)    Ezra’s Prayer (9:6-15)
•    Shame at the guilt of the people
•    Admits guilt of all people (past and present)
•    Recognizes God’s grace by producing a remnant and giving a place back in Jerusalem
•    Speechless after discovering the intermarriages
•    Sense God punished rebellion before, God will probably do so again and wipe out the remnant
•    Leave themselves at the mercy of God

5)    People’s response (10:1-44)
•    Repentance
•    Willing to put off intermarriages
•    Listing of those involved in intermarriage

Ezra – Take Away Points

#1  Spiritual leaders are to lead.
Our leaders are under God’s commission to confront, hold up the standard, do the hard work of moving us to the image of Christ.  How they go about it is still in a human body.  They are broken, frail, and, at times, sinful.  This does not negate their authority nor their responsibility in our lives.

#2   Satan is an accuser.
We are dressed in filthy rags as we stand alone before God.  We are accused and wretched.  The Lord rebuked Satan and did the following:
•    Reminded Satan and Joshua that He chose Jerusalem.
•    Removed filthy garment and clothed with rich robes.
•    The Angel of the Lord stood by.  We stand clothed in righteousness before God only with Christ standing by.
•    An admonishment to walk in ‘My ways and keep My commands.’

#3  The Glory of the Lord is not recorded as Dwelling in the Temple. Tabernacle (Ex. 40:34-38) and Solomon’s temple (I Kgs. 8:10-11), but not Zerubbabel’s temple.  Why?  Ezekial saw the Spirit depart before the Babylonian Captivity (Ez. 10:18) and saw that He would return to The Temple and Mountain of the Lord (43:1-5).  John the Apostle saw a vision of the New Jerusalem and there was no Temple–The Lamb was the Temple! (Rev. 21:1 ff, 22)

#4  Who is going to break the chains of the past?
Zechariah mentions breaking away from the sins of the fathers.  Many of us are fighting our fathers sins which we have confirmed in our own lives.  Now is the time to break them.  Now is the time to fight, in the Spirit, the enemies of the past.

#5  When there is sin, repent.
Repentance over intermarriages–There was a great fear over being punished like their ancestors by the hand of God.
•    The lineage was at risk with intermarriage.
•    Repentance happened through divorce.  How could this be?  It seems they chose the lesser of two evil.

#6  To follow the Lord you probably will not be alone, but you won’t be in the majority.

ezra-chart

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