|The Home-Coming of the Jews
Ezra 1:1 to Ezra 3:7
A GREAT COMPANY of people were gathering in the valley along the Euphrates River, preparing to start on a long journey. There were old people, and young people, and even little boys and girls.
These people were the Jews, and they were arranging soon to start back to the land of their
“The Lord God of heaven was given me all the kingdoms of earth; and he has charged me to build him a house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Now who is there among his people–the Jews–who will go up to Jerusalem and build this house for God?”
Daniel was too old to return on this long journey to Jerusalem. And perhaps the King would have been unwilling to spare this great man from his work. But there were others, many others, who were just as eager as Daniel to see the temple of the Lord rebuilt.
And one of these persons was Zerubbabel, a brave young man who belonged to the family of David. He became the leader of the people who returned to Jerusalem, but he ruled as a prince under the command of King Cyrus; for the throne of David was not restored in Jerusalem again.
When the long journey began, the people moved slowly up the highway that led northward from Babylon, the same highway over which some of them had traveled seventy years before.
Many of them walked, but some rode on horses, others on camels or donkeys. Now they were singing songs of joy, and they were carrying their beautiful harps back to their own land. There they would be glad and there they would play sweet music in the new house of the Lord which Cyrus had commanded them to build.
Cyrus had given them the vessels of gold and of silver which Nebuchadnezzar had stolen from the temple before he set it on fire, and they were taking those vessels back to be used in the new temple.
And Cyrus had commanded their neighbors and friends to give them rich gifts of gold and of silver. So they were well laden for their journey.
Not all the Jews returned to Jerusalem; for many were becoming rich in their new homes, and they did not care to go back to Judah. But they sent precious gifts to help in the building of the new temple. And they were glad because some of their own people were returning to build up the altar of the Lord, which had been torn down.
When at last the long journey was nearing its end, the people came in sight of the crumbled walls of Jerusalem. Some of them remembered how the city looked before it had been destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar, and their hearts where filled with sadness.
But many of them had never seen Jerusalem, for they had been born in the land of captivity. They had heard their parents tell about the land which God had given to them long ago, and which he had allowed King Nebuchadnezzar to take away from them because they had worshiped idols. And they were glad to come back and build homes in that land which Nebuchadnezzar had taken away from them.
In the ruins of Jerusalem the people found the place where the temple of the Lord used to stand. They found the rock where the altar of the Lord had been built. And here the priests and the Levites cleared away the rubbish and gathered stones to build a new altar.
Then they began to offer sacrifices to God each morning and each evening, just as the law of Moses commanded them to do.
Archive for February, 2012
Dear Father, thank you for your good and perfect gifts. I open my heart to you today and ask that you help me see your goodness so that I can know you more. Fill me with your peace and joy as I follow you all the days of my life.
In Jesus’ Name
God has so many good and perfect gifts in store for you. Not only does He offer eternal life through His Son, Jesus, but the Bible is filled with His generous and abundant promises in this life. He wants to bless you with provision and supply all your needs according to His riches in glory. He wants to pour out His abundant favor on you and cause everything you touch to prosper. He wants to bless you with spiritual gifts and make you strong in your inner man. He wants you to enjoy your job and be proud of your work each day. These are all gifts from God.
Every good gift from God is meant to draw us closer to Him. Often times, people have an idea about God based on past experiences. But today, I encourage you to let go of old mindsets and see God according to His Word. He is good and faithful, and He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him! Seek Him today and experience the life of blessing He has in store for you!
|Judas Betrays Jesus, and Peter Denies Him
Matt. 26:36-75; Mark 14:32-72; Luke 22:39-71; John 18:1-27
THROUGH THE DEEP shadows which fell from the buildings along the streets a silent figure glided along, hurrying toward the assembly-room where the enemies of Jesus were sitting together waiting. That silent figure was the evil-minded disciple, Judas Iscariot, who was hurrying on his way to sell his Lord. Soon the footsteps of Judas fell on the floor of the hall, and his knock sounded on the door of the assembly-room. In the reply to the call, “Who is there?” came the answer, “He for whom you wait,” and quickly the door was thrown open and Judas entered.
Now there followed a hasty conversation, some argument, and finally thirty pieces of silver were counted out and handed to Judas. Then the assembly broke up, each man hurrying to get a torch or to summon the soldiers who should on their midnight errand.
While this was taking place, Jesus and the eleven disciples had left the room up-stairs where they had eaten the last Passover supper together, and had gone outside the city to a garden across the brook Kidron. Here at the entrance of the garden Jesus had told eight of the disciples to wait, and, taking with him Peter, James, and John, he had gone into the deeper shadows of the trees to pray.
But while Jesus prayed the disciples fell asleep. They could not understand why he should seem so troubled and they did not know how to comfort him, and just when he longed to have them near to pray with him they slept. Three times Jesus went to waken Peter, James, and John, but not once did they offer him the comfort he sought.
Then while he prayed in agony alone God sent an angel from heaven to strengthen and comfort him. For Jesus knew the sorrow that was soon to come; he knew what Judas was even then doing; and he knew his enemies would not cease to torture him till he should be hanging dead upon the cross.
Not only that, for Jesus knew also that he must bear the sins of the whole world in order to become the Savior of men. And because he had a body such as we have, he dreaded to suffer the pain of such a death, and he dreaded to be left alone by those whom he loved. So he asked God to take away the suffering from him if such a thing should be possible. But he added, “Let thy will, not mine, be done.”
When Jesus had roused the sleepy disciples the third time, he told them to arise; for it was time for them to be going on their way. And they rose up to follow him out of the garden. But as they went toward the entrance they saw a band of men coming to them carrying torches as if they were searching for some one.
Jesus walked up to the men and asked, “For whom are you seeking?”
They replied, “For Jesus of Nazareth.”
“I am he,” answered Jesus. And the men fell backward.
When they rose, Jesus asked them the second time whom they were seeking, and again they said, “For Jesus of Nazareth.”
Judas, the unfaithful disciple, was with the band of men, and he stepped forward and cried, “Hail, Master!” and kissed Jesus on the cheek.
But Jesus knew the evil thought that was in Judas mind, and he looked sadly into the guilty face of his unfaithful disciple and asked, “Judas, do you betray the Son of man with a kiss?”
Judas had told the band of men the sign by which they might know whom to take for their prisoner, and that sign was the kiss he had given to Jesus. Now the soldiers took hold of Jesus roughly and prepared to lead him away.
At this Peter was thoroughly aroused from his sleep. Drawing a short sword, which he carried in his belt, he struck at one of the soldiers and cut off his ear. But Jesus seemed displeased, and told Peter to put away his sword. Then he healed the soldier’s ear; and Peter, unable to understand how he might now defend his master, sank back into the shadows with the other frightened disciples.
The soldiers then bound their prisoner, and the procession started toward the assembly-room where the enemies of Jesus were waiting impatiently. And far behind Peter followed, wondering what he should do, and yet fearing that the soldiers might take him, also.
First the soldiers brought Jesus to the house of a man named Annas, who was father-in-law of the high priest, Caiaphas, and there his trial began. John, one of the disciples, gained admittance at the door, for he was acquainted with the household of the high priest. And he went in where Jesus was. But Peter stood outside, for he was a stranger, and the doorkeeper, a young girl, would not let him in.
Presently John spoke to the doorkeeper, and she allowed him to take Peter into the court-room, for the night was cold. When Peter was inside the young girl said, “Are you not also one of his disciples?”
But Peter was afraid, and he said, “No, I did not know the man.”
In the open court a fire was burning, and Peter went near to warm himself. Around the fire stood other men, some who were servants in the high priest’s house and others who were officers.
One of the men by the fire then turned to Peter and asked, “Are you not one of this man’s disciples?”
Again fear crept into Peter’s heart, and he replied stoutly, “No, I am not!”
But a soldier standing by who had been in the garden when Jesus was taken had seen Peter use his sword, and he spoke, saying, “I saw you in the garden with him!”
Peter denied fiercely, and pretended that he had never known Jesus at all.
While this had been happening to Peter, out in the high priest’s courtyard, the high priest and others had been asking Jesus questions about his teaching and had been treating him shamefully.
Then the enemies of Jesus led their prisoner out of the high priest’s house, and as he passed by he looked sadly upon Peter. And Peter remembered how Jesus had told him that before the return of another day he would deny three times that he had ever known the Lord.
Now tears filled Peter’s eyes, and he turned blindly away from the fire and rushed out of the door, to weep bitterly. He saw himself no longer a true man, brave, and ready to help in the work of his master, but a coward, ashamed to own that he had once proudly followed the innocent man who now stood bound in chains and condemned to die.
A thoughtful mind, when it sees a Nation’s flag, sees not the flag only, but the Nation itself; and whatever may be its symbols, its insignia, he reads chiefly in the flag the Government, the principles, the truths, the history which belongs to the Nation that sets it forth.
He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap; he seats them with princes and has them inherit a throne of honor. “For the foundations of the earth are the LORD’S; upon them he has set the world.
1 “Now my eyes have seen all this; my ears have heard and understood it.
2 What you know, I also know. You are not better than I am.
3 But I want to speak to the Almighty and to argue my case with God.
4 But you smear me with lies. You are worthless doctors, all of you!
5 I wish you would just stop talking; then you would really be wise!
6 Listen to my argument, and hear the pleading of my lips.
7 You should not speak evil in the name of God; you cannot speak God’s truth by telling lies.
8 You should not unfairly choose his side against mine; you should not argue the case for God.
9 You will not do well if he examines you; you cannot fool God as you might fool humans.
10 God would surely scold you if you unfairly took one person’s side.
11 His bright glory would scare you, and you would be very much afraid of him.
12 Your wise sayings are worth no more than ashes, and your arguments are as weak as clay.
13 “Be quiet and let me speak. Let things happen to me as they will.
14 Why should I put myself in danger and take my life in my own hands?
15 Even if God kills me, I have hope in him; I will still defend my ways to his face.
16 This is my salvation. The wicked cannot come before him.
17 Listen carefully to my words; let your ears hear what I say.
18 See, I have prepared my case, and I know I will be proved right.
19 No one can accuse me of doing wrong. If someone can, I will be quiet and die.
20 “God, please just give me these two things, and then I will not hide from you:
21 Take your punishment away from me, and stop frightening me with your terrors.
22 Then call me, and I will answer, or let me speak, and you answer.
23 How many evil things and sins have I done? Show me my wrong and my sin.
24 Don’t hide your face from me; don’t think of me as your enemy.
25 Don’t punish a leaf that is blown by the wind; don’t chase after straw.
26 You write down cruel things against me and make me suffer for my boyhood sins.
27 You put my feet in chains and keep close watch wherever I go. You even mark the soles of my feet.
28 “Everyone wears out like something rotten, like clothing eaten by moths.
Job reproves his friends. (1-12) He professes his confidence in God. (13-22) Job entreats to know his sins. (23-28)
Commentary on Job 13:1-12
With self-preference, Job declared that he needed not to be taught by them. Those who dispute are tempted to magnify themselves, and lower their brethren, more than is fit. When dismayed or distressed with the fear of wrath, the force of temptation, or the weight of affliction, we should apply to the Physician of our souls, who never rejects any, never prescribes amiss, and never leaves any case uncured. To Him we may speak at all times. To broken hearts and wounded consciences, all creatures, without Christ, are physicians of no value. Job evidently speaks with a very angry spirit against his friends. They had advanced some truths which nearly concerned Job, but the heart unhumbled before God, never meekly receives the reproofs of men.
Commentary on Job 13:13-22
Job resolved to cleave to the testimony his own conscience gave of his uprightness. He depended upon God for justification and salvation, the two great things we hope for through Christ. Temporal salvation he little expected, but of his eternal salvation he was very confident; that God would not only be his Saviour to make him happy, but his salvation, in the sight and enjoyment of whom he should be happy. He knew himself not to be a hypocrite, and concluded that he should not be rejected. We should be well pleased with God as a Friend, even when he seems against us as an enemy. We must believe that all shall work for good to us, even when all seems to make against us. We must cleave to God, yea, though we cannot for the present find comfort in him. In a dying hour, we must derive from him living comforts; and this is to trust in him, though he slay us.
Commentary on Job 13:23-28
Job begs to have his sins discovered to him. A true penitent is willing to know the worst of himself; and we should all desire to know what our transgressions are, that we may confess them, and guard against them for the future. Job complains sorrowfully of God’s severe dealings with him. Time does not wear out the guilt of sin. When God writes bitter things against us, his design is to make us bring forgotten sins to mind, and so to bring us to repent of them, as to break us off from them. Let young persons beware of indulging in sin. Even in this world they may so possess the sins of their youth, as to have months of sorrow for moments of pleasure. Their wisdom is to remember their Creator in their early days, that they may have assured hope, and sweet peace of conscience, as the solace of their declining years. Job also complains that his present mistakes are strictly noticed. So far from this, God deals not with us according to our deserts. This was the language of Job’s melancholy views. If God marks our steps, and narrowly examines our paths, in judgment, both body and soul feel his righteous vengeance. This will be the awful case of unbelievers, yet there is salvation devised, provided, and made known in Christ.