10 November - Ezra 5; 6; Hosea 7; Acts 25; 26
Posted 10 November 2007 - 08:56 AM
Ezra 5; 6
5:1 Now the prophets, Haggai the prophet, and Zechariah the son of Iddo, prophesied to the Jews who were in Judah and Jerusalem; in the name of the God of Israel they prophesied to them. 5:2 Then rose up Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Jeshua the son of Jozadak, and began to build the house of God which is at Jerusalem; and with them were the prophets of God, helping them. 5:3 At the same time came to them Tattenai, the governor beyond the River, and Shetharbozenai, and their companions, and said thus to them, “Who gave you a decree to build this house, and to finish this wall?” 5:4 Then we told them in this way, what the names of the men were who were making this building. 5:5 But the eye of their God was on the elders of the Jews, and they did not make them cease, until the matter should come to Darius, and then answer should be returned by letter concerning it. 5:6 The copy of the letter that Tattenai, the governor beyond the River, and Shetharbozenai, and his companions the Apharsachites, who were beyond the River, sent to Darius the king; 5:7 they sent a letter to him, in which was written thus: To Darius the king, all peace. 5:8 Be it known to the king, that we went into the province of Judah, to the house of the great God, which is built with great stones, and timber is laid in the walls; and this work goes on with diligence and prospers in their hands. 5:9 Then we asked those elders, and said to them thus, “Who gave you a decree to build this house, and to finish this wall?” 5:10 We asked them their names also, to inform you that we might write the names of the men who were at their head. 5:11 Thus they returned us answer, saying, “We are the servants of the God of heaven and earth, and are building the house that was built these many years ago, which a great king of Israel built and finished. 5:12 But after that our fathers had provoked the God of heaven to wrath, he gave them into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, the Chaldean, who destroyed this house, and carried the people away into Babylon. 5:13 But in the first year of Cyrus king of Babylon, Cyrus the king made a decree to build this house of God. 5:14 The gold and silver vessels also of the house of God, which Nebuchadnezzar took out of the temple that was in Jerusalem, and brought into the temple of Babylon, those Cyrus the king took out of the temple of Babylon, and they were delivered to one whose name was Sheshbazzar, whom he had made governor; 5:15 and he said to him, ‘Take these vessels, go, put them in the temple that is in Jerusalem, and let the house of God be built in its place.’ 5:16 Then the same Sheshbazzar came, and laid the foundations of the house of God which is in Jerusalem: and since that time even until now has it been in building, and yet it is not completed. 5:17 Now therefore, if it seem good to the king, let a search be made in the king’s treasure house, which is there at Babylon, whether it be so, that a decree was made of Cyrus the king to build this house of God at Jerusalem; and let the king send his pleasure to us concerning this matter.”
Posted 10 November 2007 - 08:56 AM
Posted 10 November 2007 - 08:57 AM
7:1 When I would heal Israel,
then the iniquity of Ephraim is uncovered,
also the wickedness of Samaria;
for they commit falsehood,
and the thief enters in,
and the gang of robbers ravages outside.
7:2 They don’t consider in their hearts that I remember all their wickedness.
Now their own deeds have engulfed them.
They are before my face.
7:3 They make the king glad with their wickedness,
and the princes with their lies.
7:4 They are all adulterers.
They are burning like an oven that the baker stops stirring,
from the kneading of the dough, until it is leavened.
7:5 On the day of our king, the princes made themselves sick with the heat of wine.
He joined his hand with mockers.
7:6 For they have prepared their heart like an oven,
while they lie in wait.
Their baker sleeps all the night.
In the morning it burns as a flaming fire.
7:7 They are all hot as an oven,
and devour their judges.
All their kings have fallen.
There is no one among them who calls to me.
7:8 Ephraim, he mixes himself among the nations.
Ephraim is a pancake not turned over.
7:9 Strangers have devoured his strength,
and he doesn’t realize it.
Indeed, gray hairs are here and there on him,
and he doesn’t realize it.
7:10 The pride of Israel testifies to his face;
yet they haven’t returned to Yahweh their God,
nor sought him, for all this.
7:11 “Ephraim is like an easily deceived dove, without understanding.
They call to Egypt.
They go to Assyria.
7:12 When they go, I will spread my net on them.
I will bring them down like the birds of the sky.
I will chastise them, as their congregation has heard.
7:13 Woe to them!
For they have wandered from me.
Destruction to them!
For they have trespassed against me.
Though I would redeem them,
yet they have spoken lies against me.
7:14 They haven’t cried to me with their heart,
but they howl on their beds.
They assemble themselves for grain and new wine.
They turn away from me.
7:15 Though I have taught and strengthened their arms,
yet they plot evil against me.
7:16 They return, but not to the Most High.
They are like a faulty bow.
Their princes will fall by the sword for the rage of their tongue.
This will be their derision in the land of Egypt.
Posted 10 November 2007 - 08:58 AM
Acts 25; 26
25:1 Festus therefore, having come into the province, after three days went up to Jerusalem from Caesarea. 25:2 Then the high priest and the principal men of the Jews informed him against Paul, and they begged him, 25:3 asking a favor against him, that he would summon him to Jerusalem; plotting to kill him on the way. 25:4 However Festus answered that Paul should be kept in custody at Caesarea, and that he himself was about to depart shortly. 25:5 “Let them therefore,” said he, “that are in power among you go down with me, and if there is anything wrong in the man, let them accuse him.”
25:6 When he had stayed among them more than ten days, he went down to Caesarea, and on the next day he sat on the judgment seat, and commanded Paul to be brought. 25:7 When he had come, the Jews who had come down from Jerusalem stood around him, bringing against him many and grievous charges which they could not prove, 25:8 while he said in his defense, “Neither against the law of the Jews, nor against the temple, nor against Caesar, have I sinned at all.”
25:9 But Festus, desiring to gain favor with the Jews, answered Paul and said, “Are you willing to go up to Jerusalem, and be judged by me there concerning these things?”
25:10 But Paul said, “I am standing before Caesar’s judgment seat, where I ought to be tried. I have done no wrong to the Jews, as you also know very well. 25:11 For if I have done wrong, and have committed anything worthy of death, I don’t refuse to die; but if none of those things is true that they accuse me of, no one can give me up to them. I appeal to Caesar!”
25:12 Then Festus, when he had conferred with the council, answered, “You have appealed to Caesar. To Caesar you shall go.”
25:13 Now when some days had passed, King Agrippa and Bernice arrived at Caesarea, and greeted Festus. 25:14 As he stayed there many days, Festus laid Paul’s case before the king, saying, “There is a certain man left a prisoner by Felix; 25:15 about whom, when I was at Jerusalem, the chief priests and the elders of the Jews informed me, asking for a sentence against him. 25:16 To whom I answered that it is not the custom of the Romans to give up any man to destruction, before the accused has met the accusers face to face, and has had opportunity to make his defense concerning the matter laid against him. 25:17 When therefore they had come together here, I didn’t delay, but on the next day sat on the judgment seat, and commanded the man to be brought. 25:18 Concerning whom, when the accusers stood up, they brought no charge of such things as I supposed; 25:19 but had certain questions against him about their own religion, and about one Jesus, who was dead, whom Paul affirmed to be alive. 25:20 Being perplexed how to inquire concerning these things, I asked whether he was willing to go to Jerusalem and there be judged concerning these matters. 25:21 But when Paul had appealed to be kept for the decision of the emperor, I commanded him to be kept until I could send him to Caesar.”
25:22 Agrippa said to Festus, “I also would like to hear the man myself.”
“Tomorrow,” he said, “you shall hear him.”
25:23 So on the next day, when Agrippa and Bernice had come with great pomp, and they had entered into the place of hearing with the commanding officers and principal men of the city, at the command of Festus, Paul was brought in. 25:24 Festus said, “King Agrippa, and all men who are here present with us, you see this man, about whom all the multitude of the Jews petitioned me, both at Jerusalem and here, crying that he ought not to live any longer. 25:25 But when I found that he had committed nothing worthy of death, and as he himself appealed to the emperor I determined to send him. 25:26 Of whom I have no certain thing to write to my lord. Therefore I have brought him forth before you, and especially before you, King Agrippa, that, after examination, I may have something to write. 25:27 For it seems to me unreasonable, in sending a prisoner, not to also specify the charges against him.”
Posted 10 November 2007 - 08:59 AM
Then Paul stretched out his hand, and made his defense. 26:2 “I think myself happy, King Agrippa, that I am to make my defense before you this day concerning all the things that I am accused by the Jews, 26:3 especially because you are expert in all customs and questions which are among the Jews. Therefore I beg you to hear me patiently.
26:4 “Indeed, all the Jews know my way of life from my youth up, which was from the beginning among my own nation and at Jerusalem; 26:5 having known me from the first, if they are willing to testify, that after the strictest sect of our religion I lived a Pharisee. 26:6 Now I stand here to be judged for the hope of the promise made by God to our fathers, 26:7 which our twelve tribes, earnestly serving night and day, hope to attain. Concerning this hope I am accused by the Jews, King Agrippa! 26:8 Why is it judged incredible with you, if God does raise the dead?
26:9 “I myself most certainly thought that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth. 26:10 This I also did in Jerusalem. I both shut up many of the saints in prisons, having received authority from the chief priests, and when they were put to death I gave my vote against them. 26:11 Punishing them often in all the synagogues, I tried to make them blaspheme. Being exceedingly enraged against them, I persecuted them even to foreign cities.
26:12 “Whereupon as I traveled to Damascus with the authority and commission from the chief priests, 26:13 at noon, O king, I saw on the way a light from the sky, brighter than the sun, shining around me and those who traveled with me. 26:14 When we had all fallen to the earth, I heard a voice saying to me in the Hebrew language, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’
26:15 “I said, ‘Who are you, Lord?’
“He said, ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. 26:16 But arise, and stand on your feet, for I have appeared to you for this purpose: to appoint you a servant and a witness both of the things which you have seen, and of the things which I will reveal to you; 26:17 delivering you from the people, and from the Gentiles, to whom I send you, 26:18 to open their eyes, that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive remission of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’
26:19 “Therefore, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision, 26:20 but declared first to them of Damascus, at Jerusalem, and throughout all the country of Judea, and also to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, doing works worthy of repentance. 26:21 For this reason the Jews seized me in the temple, and tried to kill me. 26:22 Having therefore obtained the help that is from God, I stand to this day testifying both to small and great, saying nothing but what the prophets and Moses said would happen, 26:23 how the Christ must suffer, and how, by the resurrection of the dead, he would be first to proclaim light both to these people and to the Gentiles.”
26:24 As he thus made his defense, Festus said with a loud voice, “Paul, you are crazy! Your great learning is driving you insane!”
26:25 But he said, “I am not crazy, most excellent Festus, but boldly declare words of truth and reasonableness. 26:26 For the king knows of these things, to whom also I speak freely. For I am persuaded that none of these things is hidden from him, for this has not been done in a corner. 26:27 King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know that you believe.”
26:28 Agrippa said to Paul, “With a little persuasion are you trying to make me a Christian?”
26:29 Paul said, “I pray to God, that whether with little or with much, not only you, but also all that hear me this day, might become such as I am, except for these bonds.”
26:30 The king rose up with the governor, and Bernice, and those who sat with them. 26:31 When they had withdrawn, they spoke one to another, saying, “This man does nothing worthy of death or of bonds.” 26:32 Agrippa said to Festus, “This man might have been set free if he had not appealed to Caesar.”
World English Bible - (WEB) - Public Domain
Posted 06 March 2011 - 01:55 PM
Ezra 5; 6
Acts 25; 26
CHOSEN VESSELS AND THEIR BURDENS
Paul is described as God’s “chosen vessel” [Acts 9:15] but that does not mean he was lavished with favours by God like a father does toward his favourite son, such as Jacob did with Joseph and his coat of many colours [Genesis 37:3-4]. Paul recalls, as he is giving his account before King Agrippa, what Jesus said to him on the road to Damascus, “It is hard for you to kick against the goads” [Acts 26:14]
What does that mean? References to goads are common in Greek and Roman writings. If the oxen are going where the ploughman does not want them to go, there is a goad they kick against. Jesus knew Paul had a troubled conscience. He knew that a battle had been going on in his mind and he was kicking against an inner conscience every time he persecuted Christians, part of his mind knew he was doing wrong. Do you get that feeling sometimes? I am sure that all those who are striving to serve Jesus as their Lord experience this at times.
Some might see it as terrible that God should allow Paul to be arrested and stopped from further preaching and be on trial. [Acts 22-26] But it gives him opportunity to challenge (or rather God through him) both the Jewish and Roman leaders. Notice how Paul made Felix uneasy when “he reasoned about righteousness and self control and the coming judgment” the text says Felix became “alarmed” [Acts 24:25]. Do we get alarmed at times?
In the O T we are reading Ezra: but this book is not written by Ezra, it is really a continuation of 2nd Chronicles. Ezra 1, should really be 2 Chronicles 27. In tomorrow’s chapter [Ezra 7] Ezra, a scribe [Ezra 7:6] first comes on the scene, he is just one of a number of those returning from exile, but he stands out! Why?
In Ezra 7:10 we read, “For Ezra had set his heart to study the law of the LORD and to do it and to teach his statutes and rules in Israel.” Note the 3 things he had set his heart to do. He impressed the Persian King and the King gives a message to others about him. [Ezra 7:21-26] Ezra’s reaction and appreciation is shown in Ezra 7:27-28 “Blessed be the LORD, the God of our fathers, who put such a thing as this into the heart of the king …. I took courage, for the hand of the LORD my God was on me …” Ezra too, was a chosen vessel.
Posted 10 November 2011 - 01:08 AM
Ezra 5; 6
Acts 25; 26
"FOR THIS HAS NOT BEEN DONE IN A CORNER"
When Paul testifies to his faith and actions before King Agrippa he said some particularly interesting things. Luke who records these, was evidently an eyewitness to these events and all that was said - for the first verse of Acts 27 continues to use the word “we”.
Paul reflects back on the events following the resurrection of Jesus and his own conversion when Festus interrupts him, “Paul you are out of your mind” [Acts 26:24] to which Paul responds, “”I am not out of my mind, most noble Festus, but I am speaking true and rational words. For the king knows about these things, and to him I speak boldly. For I am persuaded that none of these things has escaped his notice, for this has not been done in a corner” [Acts 26:25,26]
That last phrase means that these events attracted a lot of attention, they became widely known. Many records outside the Bible illustrate the impact that the Christian message had on the ancient world. The message spread with so much rapidity that there were so many Christians in Rome 35 years after Christ’s resurrection that the evil Emperor Nero persecuted them ferociously in trying to pin the blame on them for the great fire in Rome in AD64. This is testified by the Roman historians Tacitus and Suetonius. Truly the events in Jerusalem at the climax of the life on earth of Jesus Christ “had not been done in a corner.”
The world was forever changed as a result as the message and significance of those events spread; the religious attitudes in the world were turned upside down. [Acts 17:6] Tragically, in following centuries, there were increasing efforts to change the message by Greeks and others to fit in with their own religious beliefs, such as their belief that the human soul is immortal. But the original true message is still known by those who read their Bible’s diligently; but the lack of such today shows we are in the predicted era when “scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires” [2 Peter 3:3].
Human beings are at last succeeding in persuading themselves that these things were “done in a corner” and can be ignored! What a shock they are in for – the “eleventh hour” is here! May we all be aware and awake to that fact!
Posted 10 November 2012 - 03:56 AM
Ezra 5; 6
Acts 25; 26
"THE HELP THAT COMES FROM GOD"
It is Luke “the beloved physician” [Colossians 4:14] who travelled with Paul in the later years of his preaching – for it is evident he was with him when he returned to Jerusalem [Acts 21:17] and Paul was arrested. The detailed account we are reading is therefore an eye witness account, and Luke shows himself in many ways to be a diligent historian as sceptics trying to prove otherwise have had to admit..
We read the 3 fascinating speeches Paul gave in his defense in which he stresses how his life was turned around on the road to Damascus to cause him to preach the message of Jesus “to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light … that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.” [Acts 26:18] Genuine faith brings us into a position of ‘holiness.’ Read Hebrews 12:14
The “darkness” in the world was dramatically pierced by that light, indeed only 300 years later Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire. However – history shows how the teaching of Jesus and the Apostles had become seriously corrupted by that time.
Nevertheless God’s word endures in written form, and now brings “light” into the minds of those who will take its message seriously and respond to what they read. Paul is one of the outstanding examples for them to follow. We noted today how Paul said to King Agrippa, “to this day I have had the help that comes from God” [Acts 26:22] and his letters and what Luke has written illustrate this.
Paul is ready to appeal and challenge everyone, great or small, as to what they believe about the meaning and purpose of their lives. He says to the king, “do you believe the prophets? I know that you believe.” [Acts 26:27] to which the king responds, “In a short time would you persuade me to be a Christian?”
Maybe some have too much time! Many are not sufficiently conscious of “the help that comes from God” and fail to read the scriptures daily and allow God’s word to live in their hearts and minds. For ourselves, and we know it is the case with others, it is only when we look back on the varied pathways of life one fully realizes the help that has come from God. Do you want that help? Do you need that help? Can you sense that help in the pathways of life you have travelled? Key questions to meditate on today.
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