So much could be written from these chapters, but I am just going to bring a few points across. Please feel share in the comments box anything that stuck out to you.
From the womb John the Baptist was set apart to his call, filled with the Holy Spirit (See Luke 1:15), and when Mary the mother of Jesus spoke John leaped for joy in the womb (See Luke 1:44). I bring up these points to show how much God can do in a person even before they are born. There is a generation coming up that will prepare the way for Jesus Christ’s second coming just as John prepared the way for His first. We shouldn’t wait till this generation is older to equip them for their call; the LORD wants to start from the womb. Luke 1:80 says that John, “grew and became strong in spirit, and was in the deserts till the day of his manifestation to Israel.” John’s call was to speak to multitudes, but it was in the secluded deserts that he became strong in spirit to walk out his call.
Andrew and another disciple of John the Baptist asked Jesus, "where are You staying?” and Jesus replied, “come and see” (John 1:38-39). Andrew must have like what he saw because he went and found Simon his brother and brought him to Jesus (vs. 42). Then after Jesus found Philip, Philip found Nathaniel and brought him to Jesus. When Nathaniel questioned if the Messiah could come from Nazareth, Philip’s response was, “come and see” (vs. 46). God has a plan to use all His people to lead others to Jesus Christ; it’s not just the job of a few. It’s our job to share the message and invite them to come to Jesus. It’s the Holy Sprit’s job to make them “see;” He will open their eyes just as He did with these men.
Congratulations on finishing the reading of the Old Testament in 9 months. Now we will read the New Testament over the next 3 months. I’m looking forward to this!
After Israel had begun to restore righteous worship and righteous living back to their nation, complacency and unbelief were creeping back in. The fact that Israel was willing to offer defiled/contaminated food and blind sacrifices shows their flippant attitude. The people were serving God out of obligation; they didn't see the real benefit of a life devoted to Him and His ways. We see in chapter one that the LORD’s biggest complaint is against the priests since they were enabling this irreverent attitude. The LORD says in Malachi 1:6, "A son honors his father, And a servant his master. If then I am the Father, Where is My honor? And if I am a Master, Where is My reverence? Says the LORD of hosts To you priests who despise My name. Yet you say, 'In what way have we despised Your name?'” When the LORD tells the people they are robbing Him of tithes and offering in chapter three, it’s obvious the LORD was after honor, and not just the religions actions. The biggest thing the people were robbing God of is “honor.” The people were continuing to go through the motions of giving to God, but their lack of honor of Him had cut them off from the benefit the LORD desired to give them. We should examine ourselves; are we giving and serving God “grudgingly” and “of necessity,” or “cheerfully” (See 2 Cor. 9:7).
What stuck out to you from the book of Malachi; what did the LORD speak to you about?
Also, did you enjoy reading through the Old Testament in chronological order? Did you see some things in a new light? (Put it in the comments below!)
The people are going through the process of learning and reinstituting the Word of God in their lives. Nehemiah 12:24 says the Levites did, “praise and give thanks, group alternating with group, according to the command of David the man of God.” David had instructed that there should be praise before the presence of the LORD all day, every day and they had begun to do this again.
Chapter 13 records many things Nehemiah did to lead the people back to righteousness living. When Nehemiah saw how the people of Judah had intermarried with the other nations he said to them, “Did not Solomon king of Israel sin by these things? Yet among many nations there was no king like him, who was beloved of his God; and God made him king over all Israel. Nevertheless pagan women caused even him to sin” (Nehemiah 13:26). When our life is aligned with the wrong people, it will cause us to error in our ways as it says in Proverbs 13:20: “He who walks with wise men will be wise, But the companion of fools will be destroyed.”
Ezra gathered with the people on the first day of the seventh month (The Feast of Trumpets) and read the Law of God to them from morning till midday and the result was all the people began to weep. (See Nehemiah 8:1-9) Ezra said to the people in Nehemiah 8:10, "Go your way, eat the fat, drink the sweet, and send portions to those for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not sorrow, for the joy of the LORD is your strength." It’s true that we need the fear of the LORD in our life to go on to live holy, but we also need the “joy of the LORD” to have strength. Joy comes from the LORD, but we should realize the joy of the LORD is more than just an emotion God gives. In the joy of the LORD we find our joy in Him. It’s when “His commandments are not burdensome” (1 John 5:3), and we delight to do His will (Psalm 40:8), because “his love is better than wine” (Song of Sol. 1:2). Nehemiah 8:12 says, “all the people went their way to eat and drink, to send portions and rejoice greatly, because they understood the words that were declared to them.” The people understood they needed the joy of the LORD; they “rejoiced greatly” in the goodness of God.
During the feast of Tabernacles the whole assembly “made booths and sat under the booths; for since the days of Joshua the son of Nun until that day the children of Israel had not done so. And there was very great gladness” (Nehemiah 8:17). People don’t do God’s Word for one reason or another, but all those reasons are lame. God’s Word, and His ways, were given for our benefit, and we will find “great gladness” as we trust His ways and walk in them.
We read in chapter 9 how after the Feasts of the seventh month were over, the people gathered to hear God’s word, fast, confess their sin, worship, and to renew a covenant with the LORD. The people feared the LORD, but now it was much more than fear: they found their joy in the LORD and desired to live in His ways.
I love their words at the end of Nehemiah 10:39: “we will not neglect the house of our God.” They recognized how they and their ancestors had been negligent and they made a decision not to let that happen again.
These chapters in Nehemiah give us some necessary principles to fulfilling a God given task and vision.
When Nehemiah heard of the distress of those in Jerusalem and that the walls were still broken down, Nehemiah said in chapter 1, verse 4, “I sat down and wept, and mourned for many days; I was fasting and praying before the God of heaven.” If more God given tasks were responded to like this, more would get done. Nehemiah didn’t take things lightly; his heart had passion for the glory of God and compassion for his people. The rest of what we see him and others do in the following chapters began in prayer with fasting.
Nehemiah 2:10 says, “When Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite official heard of it, they were deeply disturbed that a man had come to seek the well-being of the children of Israel.” If you don’t have opposition and critics, you’re probably not doing anything significant. You can’t be discouraged by those who oppose and despise you when you are doing a God given task. Critics are not proof you’re in the will of God, but you’ll always have them in the will of God.
Nehemiah said in chapter 2, verse 16, “the officials did not know where I had gone or what I had done; I had not yet told the Jews, the priests, the nobles, the officials, or the others who did the work.” When Nehemiah first came to Jerusalem, he didn’t tell anyone what he was doing until he had time to survey the land and see what needed to be accomplished. In the initial stages of a vision and God given task we can error by talking to people we shouldn’t about our plan. That doesn’t mean we don’t tell anyone, but we need to have a plan before we try to tell people what it is. This sounds like common sense, but many times people get excited in the initial stages of something and they tell people who can’t see what they have begun to see.
Chapter 3 contains some significant words: “next to them” (or “next to him”). The job wasn’t fulfilled by one or even by a majority, but as they ALL did their part standing side by side, the job would be finished.
Nehemiah commented on his enemies plans to frighten them in chapter 6, verse 9: “For they all were trying to make us afraid, saying, "Their hands will be weakened in the work, and it will not be done." Now therefore, O God, strengthen my hands.” Fear will neutralize faith and must be resisted. Nehemiah continued to trust in God’s ability to help him finish the work regardless of what they were saying to him. There will always be a temptation to fear when you’re walking out a God given task; times when the problems seem so large, but we must refocus and remember what the LORD has spoken.
Ezra 7:6 says of Ezra the scribe, “…The king granted him all his request, according to the hand of the LORD his God upon him.” We don’t succeed by chance and certainly not by luck; when we do God’s word in faith the LORD brings us success. “For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the Law of the LORD, and to do it, and to teach statutes and ordinances in Israel” (Ezra 7:10). Notice the progression of events from verse 10… first he set his heart to seek God’s word, and to do the Word, and then teach it.
People of the Word (people of faith) think different, so they talk and act different. In Ezra 8:21-23 Ezra says “I proclaimed a fast there at the river of Ahava, that we might humble ourselves before our God, to seek from Him the right way for us and our little ones and all our possessions. For I was ashamed to request of the king an escort of soldiers and horsemen to help us against the enemy on the road, because we had spoken to the king, saying, ‘The hand of our God is upon all those for good who seek Him, but His power and His wrath are against all those who forsake Him.’ So we fasted and entreated our God for this, and He answered our prayer.” The king was willing to give Ezra whatever he wanted and needed, but because of how Ezra had already spoken about the LORD he was forced, in a sense, to look to God alone. We shouldn’t look for the easy way, but the right way; God was glorified to the king and kingdom because Ezra didn’t take any assistance from the king. There are way too many people looking to the governments of the world to help them and provide for them when they should be looking to the LORD.
I think Ezra 9:8 is such an interesting verse; Ezra says, “And now for a little while grace has been shown from the LORD our God, to leave us a remnant to escape, and to give us a peg in His holy place, that our God may enlighten our eyes and give us a measure of revival in our bondage.” They had just began to come back into the land and settle it; numbers where small in Jerusalem and Israel. Ezra recognizes that it was God’s grace that gave them a “measure of revival” while in their bondage. Still today, God gives a measure of revival to people and churches so they can recognize their bondage and have the strength to walk in new life. May the LORD pour out His “revival” into us.
In the book of Esther there are some very intense moments for the Jewish people; by reading the book, we are able to see the whole picture and see God had a plan that started before anyone ever knew there was a problem. God orchestrated for a young Jewish girl to become Queen so she could intercede for her people before the King at the right moment. The LORD knows the trials that are approaching and coming on the earth and He is positioning intercessors’ before Him to bring forth another great deliverance!
Mordecai said to Esther in chapter 4, verse 14: “If you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father's house will perish. Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?" There is a truth here for everyone who is in the “kingdom” (a child of God), but there is a more specific application for these end days. Scripture tells us that the Jewish people will be hated and hunted and righteous Christians will stand up for them in faith. To pray for them, yes, but also to put their necks on the line to protect them – even as Corrie Ten Boom did during World War II.
Read a short synopsis of her life here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corrie_ten_Boom
Or listen to her testimony at the end of this post.
Only God could orchestrate the events of chapter 6. If Haman wasn’t so drunk on his pride, he may have seen the hand of God in what happened in this chapter and quickly backtracked on his plan to kill all the Jews before it was too late. Pride and hatred blinded Haman’s eyes just as does people today. The antichrist and those who side with him in the last days will have a hardened heart just as Pharaoh did when he continued to try to keep the Israelites as slaves when his nations was falling apart from the judgments of the LORD. The enemy is good at overplaying his hand.
In chapter 7, Haman was hanged on the gallows he made for Mordecai. The gallows were 50 cubits high (75 feet) which was over 6 stories high.
When the Jews were given the right to defend themselves it says in Esther 8:17, “Then many of the people of the land became Jews, because fear of the Jews fell upon them.” Not only were the Jewish people saved, but God’s people were increased with people from other nations. It looked bleak but, this was God’s plan from the beginning.
As I read this book I think to myself, God has a plan for these last days and it’s better than I can ask or think. It will require faith that intercedes before the King, and faith that is willing to give its life.
Zechariah 10:1 says, “Ask the LORD for rain In the time of the latter rain. The LORD will make flashing clouds; He will give them showers of rain, Grass in the field for everyone.” It was a new day; judgment had passed and the LORD desired to bring His blessing, so He tells them to “ask.” James 4:2 tells us that we don’t have some things because we fail to ask, and not because He doesn’t want to give it to us.
Chapter 12, verses 1-9: The LORD speaks of the battle for Jerusalem in the last days. Satan and the powers of darkness know the plan of God is for Jesus the Messiah to reign as King from Jerusalem, so they is fighting for that city. Jesus will come to Jerusalem when the leaders welcome Him by saying “blessed is He who comes in the Name of the LORD.” The events of the last days will create a scenario where the leaders of Israel will fully accept Jesus as their Messiah when He returns. Verses 10-14 say there will be a “great mourning” in that day when they behold Him.
Chapter 13, verses 8 and 9 seems to say that 1/3 of Israel will survive the time of the great tribulation. That 1/3 will be refined and will serve the LORD faithfully.
Chapter 14 talks about how the LORD will draw all nations toward Jerusalem to destroy the reprobate people who refuse to repent of their wickedness in the very end days. Joel 3:2 says, “I will also gather all nations, And bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat; And I will enter into judgment with them there On account of My people, My heritage Israel, Whom they have scattered among the nations; They have also divided up My land.” The book of Revelations also goes into more detail on what will happen in Jerusalem
I will comment on this chapter and the others and try not to go beyond my understanding of the Scripture.
Verses 1-5: The “curse” will remove everyone in the end not willing to submit to the King, Jesus Christ. The LORD is longsuffering, but He will manifest His love to His people by establishing His kingdom.
The lead disc (vs. 7) covering the basket with “Wickedness” may represent that God has restrained the manifestation of the extent of wickedness that operates within people as spoken in 2 Thessalonians 2. 2 Thessalonians 2:7-8 says, “For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming.”
Verse 11: The land of “Shinar” is Babylon. When God removes restraint off in the last days, the extent of man’s wickedness will be manifested. This wickedness will be seen in Babylon (see Revelations 17).
Verse 12: The “Man” who is said to build the real temple is called “The BRANCH.” The real temple the LORD is focused on is not built by stones, wood etc.; it is built within a people who are living and abiding in Jesus Christ [the Vine (Branch)].
The Jews wanted to know if they should continue the fasts they did in the 5th and 7th month of each year because of the destruction of the temple. Now that it was being rebuilt, they questioned if they should continue with the fasts. The LORD doesn’t give a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer; instead He focuses them back on His previous Word that they rejected that got them in the situation to start with. Zechariah 7:9-10 says, "Thus says the LORD of hosts: 'Execute true justice, Show mercy and compassion Everyone to his brother. Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, The alien or the poor. Let none of you plan evil in his heart Against his brother.'”
This chapter speaks of the time when Jesus Christ shall return to earth and establish His kingdom. The LORD talks of the good He is determined to do to Judah and Israel. He is going to bring them back into their land and make them a blessing to the rest of the earth.
The prophecy in Zechariah 9:9-10 (like many others) speaks of Jesus Christ’s first coming and His second. Verse 9 of His first and verse 10 of His second coming. It says, "Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your King is coming to you; He is just and having salvation, Lowly and riding on a donkey, A colt, the foal of a donkey. I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim And the horse from Jerusalem; The battle bow shall be cut off. He shall speak peace to the nations; His dominion shall be 'from sea to sea, And from the River to the ends of the earth.'”
In verses 1-6, the LORD reminds Judah of the power of His word. When He spoke judgment to the previous generation, that judgment came forth from that Word since they did not repent.
It would be helpful to read Revelations chapter 6 for insight on the meanings of the colors of the horses seen in Zechariah 1:8.
The fulfillment of the vision Zechariah saw concerning Jerusalem is for the time when Jesus returns and brings true peace to His city. The LORD wants us to do our work in this lifetime with the mindset that our work has eternal recompenses and rewards.
Zechariah sees Joshua, the High Priest, receive clean garments from the LORD instead of his filthy ones in a vision. It was the high priest that made atonement for the sin of the nation. This vision represented that the LORD had removed the sin from Israel that had brought judgment upon them. There is also a foreshadow in this vision that applies to us. The Hebrew form of the name Joshua is “Yeshua,” the Name of our Lord and Savior. The vision is also a picture of Jesus Christ bearing our sin, paying for our sin, and giving us righteousness "in one day" (vs 9).
Who are the two anointed ones talked about in this vision? I believe it represents Zerubbabel, who was overseeing Jerusalem, and Joshua the High Priest. (Both King and High Priest were anointed.) Both of these men were types and foreshadows of Jesus Christ, so as you look through this vision, you can see a picture of the ministry of Jesus Christ and the ministry of His body, the church.
Read through the Bible with us in 2012! The reading plan can be downloaded below; we are reading in chronological order. Check back often to read the blog posts on the Bible readings and discuss things in the "comments" section.
2012 Bible Plan