November 29, 2016

Ezra 7-10 - 
After all this, Ezra, related back to Aaron, arrived from Babylon, a scholar well-practiced in the Revelation of Moses...Because God’s hand was on Ezra, the king gave him everything he asked for.  

It was the 7th year of Arraxeerxes reign.  He arrived in the 5th month of the 7th year.  Ezra had committed himself to studying the Revelation of God, to living it, and to teaching Israel to live its truths and ways.  Ezra took a letter from the king which included:  You are being sent by the king and his 7 advisors to carry out an investigation of Judah and Jerusalem in relation to the teaching of your God that you are carrying with you along with the silver & gold that the king is giving for Israel...Use this money carefully...whatever else you need for the Temple of your God you may pay for out of the royal bank...Everything the God-of-Heaven requires for the Temple of God must be given without hesitation...I, authorize you, Ezra, exercising the wisdom of God that you have in your hands.

Blessed be God, who put it in the mind of the king to beautify the Temple in Jerusalem!  Not only that, he caused the king actually to like me and back me.  

My God was on my side and I was ready to go.  And I organized all the leaders of Israel to go with me....I looked over these leaders and found that they were all laymen and priests but no Levites so I sent for the leaders to send us ministers of the Temple of God.  Well the generous hand of our God was on us and they brought back to us a wise man.  His name was Sherebiah who with sons and brothers numbered 18.  They also brought Hashabiah and Jeshaiah which included another 20.  

Ezra then claimed a fast to humble themselves before our God, and pray for wise guidance for their journey since he was embarrassed to talk to the king about protection along the way .  So they fasted and prayed about these concerns.  And he listened.  He then picked 12 of the leading priests - Sherebiah and Hashabiah along with 10 of their brothers.  The group left this gathering place on the 12th day of the 1st month to travel to Jerusalem.  When they arrived, the exiles offered burnt offerings to the God of Israel....

After all this was done, the leaders came to Ezra and said, “The people of Israel have not kept themselves separate from the neighboring people around here with all their vulgar obscenities---the holy seed is now mixed in with these other peoples.  And our leaders have led the way in their betrayal.”  When I heard all this, I ripped my clothes, pulled hair from my head and beard; I slumped to the ground appalled.  Many were in fear and trembling because of what God was saying about the betrayal...so Ezra fell to his knees and stretched out his hands to God.  And he prayed.... “ our iniquities are piled up so high that we can’t see out; our guilt touches the skies....yet here we are, at it again, breaking your commandments by intermarrying with the people who practice all these obscenities”... 

Ezra wept, as he prayed and confessed, a large number of men, women, and children of Israel gathered around him.  All the people were now weeping as if their hearts would break.  Shecaniah, acting as a spokesman acknowledged that they betrayed God by intermarrying others..”but all is not lost, there is still hope for Israel; let’s make a covenant right now with our God, agreeing to get rid of all these wives and their children...Now get up, Ezra.  Take charge--we’re behind you.  Don’t back down.”  So Ezra stood up and had the leaders solemnly swear to do what Shecaniah proposed.  And they did it.

A notice was sent throughout Judah and Jerusalem ordering al the exiles to meet in Jerusalem within 3 days.  They met in Jerusalem on the 20th day of the 9th month...because of the business before them, and aggravated by the buckets of rain coming down on them, they were restless, uneasy and anxious.  Ezra spoke to them about how they have broken trust and need to make a confession to God and do what he wants you to do; separate yourself from the people of the land and from your foreign wives.”  The whole group said, “Yes, we’ll do it--just the way you said it!” then asked that it be done over time to come at an appointed time.  They sat down together on the 1st day of the 10th month to pursue the matter.  By the first day of the first month they had finished dealing with every man who had married a foreign wife.

I John 5 - 
The reality test on whether or not we love God’s children is this:  do we love God?  Do we keep his commands?  Every God-begotten person conquers the world’s ways.  The conquering power that brings the world to its knees is our faith!  The person who wins out over the world’s ways is simply the one who believes in Jesus.  We have a triple testimony: the Spirit, the Baptism, the Crucifixion.  And the three in perfect agreement. 

My purpose in writing is simply this: that you who believe in God’s son will know beyond the shadow of a doubt that you have eternal life... and how bold and free we then become in his presence, freely asking according to his will, sure that he is listening.  And if we’re confident that he’s listening, we know that what we’ve asked for is as good as ours