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.”
Sometime’s the work of God stops when the Lord never intended for it to stop. Ezra 4:23 says the Jews were made by “force of arms” to stop building the temple. The LORD expected them to press through the opposition and not give in to circumstances. How often do people stop, slow down or change directions in life due to opposition, discouragement or just a because of a desire for something “better?”
After at least a year (probably much more), the prophet Haggai boldly confronts their lack of motivation. He says in Haggai 1:2-5:
"Thus speaks the LORD of hosts, saying: 'This people says, "The time has not come, the time that the LORD's house should be built.” Is it time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, and this temple to lie in ruins? Now therefore, thus says the LORD of hosts: "Consider your ways!”
The people who were at one time stirred and moved to do the work of God (see Ezra 1:5) had given up. As Haggai and Zechariah began to prophecy they refocused them on the truth of what God had said and “… the LORD stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and the spirit of Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and the spirit of all the remnant of the people; and they came and worked on the house of the LORD of hosts, their God” (Haggai 1:14).
Ebed-Melech the Ethiopian put his neck on the line by standing up for Jeremiah (the one speaking God's true words), but this shows that he had faith in the messages from Jeremiah. Jeremiah 38:8-9 says, “Ebed-Melech went out of the king's house and spoke to the king, saying: "My lord the king, these men have done evil in all that they have done to Jeremiah the prophet, whom they have cast into the dungeon, and he is likely to die from hunger in the place where he is. For there is no more bread in the city." Just before Jerusalem was destroyed, Ebed-Milech received a precious promise from the LORD in Jeremiah 39:16-17: “Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: "Behold, I will bring My words upon this city for adversity and not for good, and they shall be performed in that day before you. But I will deliver you in that day,...and you shall not be given into the hand of the men of whom you are afraid.” The LORD gave this Ethiopian eunuch mercy that He desired to all if they would have just believed and repented.
Psalms 79:2-4 gives us a bit of a depiction of Jerusalem at its destruction. It says, “The dead bodies of Your servants— They have given as food for the birds of the heavens, The flesh of Your saints to the beasts of the earth. Their blood they have shed like water all around Jerusalem, And there was no one to bury them. We have become a reproach to our neighbors, A scorn and derision to those who are around us.”
The LORD said to Hezekiah in 2 Kings 19:20, “Because you have prayed to Me against Sennacherib king of Assyria, I have heard.” The LORD can’t hear a prayer we don’t pray, but He promises to hear us when we pray.
Psalms 80:3 says, “Restore us, O God; Cause Your face to shine, And we shall be saved!” The difference between them being saved or being destroyed by their enemies was God stepping in (causing His face to shine). No matter your problem or situation, God will make the difference, causing restoration and salvation.
These Scriptures contain more judgments and God’s promise of restoration. Much of the promised restoration will be accomplished in Christ at His return. Isaiah 35 has types and examples of what we have in Christ right now, but the full manifestation will be at the return of Christ.
The LORD gave Judah one the most astounding victories ever seen, even as judgment loomed over them as a nation. No other nation was able to stand against the Assyrians, but when Hezekiah prays, God’s “Angel” kills 185,000 of the Assyrian soldiers alone. (See Isaiah 37:36)
As the LORD continued to decree the judgments and some shakings had begun, God’s desire was that Judah would repent and turn back to Him; this is always His desire.
Although under the Law, we see the grace of God in the “revival” lead by King Hezekiah. The people were a month late to celebrate the Passover due to not having enough priests consecrated in time. Still, many of the people were not sanctified when the Passover came, so Hezekiah prayed, "May the good LORD provide atonement for everyone who prepares his heart to seek God,” and the LORD listened to him. The Passover is a picture of the death of Jesus Christ; the One who came to save sinners. It’s fitting that God accepted them, not on having done everything right up until then, but because their hearts were turning to the LORD.
The book of Obadiah
This prophecy is against the decedents of Edom, who is Esau – Jacob’s brother. They thought they couldn’t be hurt because “the pride of their heart deceived” them (vrs. 3). What was Edom’s sin? They stood by when Jerusalem was being plundered; they rejoiced instead of helping Judah. God has made a everlasting covenant with Israel giving them land of promise. Nations that uphold this will be blessed; nations that don’t will suffer. 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.”
I think these songs are listed here in this chronological reading of the Bible because it is believed that these Psalms were sung in the Temple. Remember, David established that there would be priests that worship in the holy place 24/7.
These Psalms bring great exaltation to God, and they bring faith to the worshiper. That is what real praise should do; as it focuses on the greatness of God, we can’t help but be built up in faith.
You can see in these Psalms that they knew their military campaigns were won in the place of prayer and they would just be “walked out” by the armies of Israel. Nothing has changed; any real victory we have in Christ is first enforced in the place of prayer then walked out.
2 Chronicles 6:15 says, “You have kept what You promised Your servant David my father; You have both spoken with Your mouth and fulfilled it with Your hand, as it is this day.”
- What God speaks with His mouth is done by His hand. Never question His Word.
In 2 Chronicles 6:42-7:1 Solomon says, "O LORD God, do not turn away the face of Your Anointed; Remember the mercies of Your servant David." Then 7:1 says, “When Solomon had finished praying, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices; and the glory of the LORD filled the temple.” Solomon asked God to “remember the mercies of Your servant David.” What are “mercies?” The Hebrew word is “Chesed” translated mercies, or sometimes translated kindness, or love. The word is all those things, but to really understand the word, you need to know that the word refers to covenant. In Deuteronomy 7:9 He says that He “keeps covenant and mercy.” He “keeps” it because it isn’t random acts of love but a commitment He has made revealed in His Word. A real marriage is the best example we have of this; out of love we vow to commit our lives to one another; this is chesed. Israel understood this. 2 Chronicles 7:3 says, “When all the children of Israel saw how the fire came down, and the glory of the LORD on the temple, they bowed their faces to the ground on the pavement, and worshiped and praised the LORD, saying: "For He is good, For His mercy (chesed) endures forever."
As you read through Psalm 136 you realize that everything God has done or will do is because He is good because His mercy (chesed) is forever! It’s all because He has committed to do us good because He is good! Hallelujah!
Psalms 94:6-10 says, "They slay the widow and the stranger, And murder the fatherless. 7) Yet they say, "The LORD does not see, Nor does the God of Jacob understand." 8) Understand, you senseless among the people; And you fools, when will you be wise? 9) He who planted the ear, shall He not hear? He who formed the eye, shall He not see? 10) He who instructs the nations, shall He not correct, He who teaches man knowledge?"
These verses show how a fool thinks; they live their lives without the knowledge of God. They shove Him out of their thinking, lying to themselves that He doesn't see what they do. The fool says in his heart that there is no God. A wise person has a fear of God.
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The longest chapter of the Bible is all about the importance of God’s Word; Psalm 119 is more than double the length of the next longest Psalm. It consists of 22 parts; each part starts with the consecutive letters of the Hebrew Alphabet.
It’s believed that Psalm 119 was written by David; reading it will help one to understand how and why an unknown Sheppard boy became the greatest King Israel had.
Psalms 119:32 says, “I will run the course of Your commandments, For You shall enlarge my heart.” Yes Lord, we ask You to enlarge our heart to know and walk in your ways, and let our eyes stay awake through the night to meditate Your Word (Ps. 119:148).
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