Monday, December 31, 2012

For Those Who Wish to Read THROUGH the Bible in the Year 2013...

Take Ten
1/1/2013 Genesis 1, 2 John 1, 2
1/2/2013 Genesis 3-5 John 3
1/3/2013 Genesis 6,7 John 4, 5
1/4/2013 Genesis 8-11:9 John 6
1/5/2013 Job 1-3 John 7

The link to the information about Genesis, Job, and John is found here.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Thank You for Reading with Me!


Thanks to all of you who have been reading through the Bible with me. Each year we try to add a little something to enhance our understanding of the scripture so that we can . . .
. . . [G]row in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. II Peter 3:18a 

. . . which is the whole purpose behind reading the Bible in the first place. Thank you for your encouragement, especially this past year when it seemed I struggled to get things posted in a timely manner. Just knowing that there were those who missed it (because you told me so!) kept me going when I faltered.

So guess what? Well, okay, my faithful readers already know because I made the announcement a few weeks ago but I will not be reading through the Bible in the year 2013. (That will be hard for someone - me - who has been doing so since she was a teenager!) 

But you can still read through the Bible in a year if you wish. The updated schedule for 2013 is posted at the tab above. Printed or digital copies are also available upon request. 

Instead of reading through the Bible in 2013, I will be reading shorter daily assignments and keeping notes.

Since I had such difficulties getting the individual book synopses posted regularly I decided not to do that anymore (it would be redundant anyway) and take on another more, um, difficult project.  (No one should ever accuse me of dreaming too small!!! Delusions of grandeur maybe...)

No, since I had so much trouble keeping up with semi-weekly blogging I have decided to do it, uh, DAILY. Some people participate in picture projects 365 (and I enjoy seeing them, by the way) but since I take horrible pictures I have set a goal of posting a Bible Study Journal "almost" 365. (I'll still be taking Sunday off from a prescribed reading schedule, hence the qualifier.)

There will be passage assignments for Monday-Saturday that will appear on the previous weekend. There might be a psalm posted at the blog on Sunday in conjunction with the prior assignment and appropriate devotional material shared intermittently. 

There are 4 things I am seeking in each Bible reading assignment which will appear on my blog journal:
  1. Does God make any promises in this passage? If so, to whom? And do those promises apply to me?
  2. Can reference to Jesus be found within the passage?
  3. Are there any references to future events (In the Millennium [if you are pre-millennial], in Heaven, and/or on the New Earth)
  4. Does God make any commandments in this passage? If so, to whom? And do those commandments apply to me?
This study will begin on January 7, 2013 and run until . . . I've completed reading the Bible! In the meantime there are a few things I wish to blog about in the time intervening (the next segment of Blind Love and Blessings, for instance) and perhaps you can use the days between Dec 31, 2012 and Jan 7, 2013 to finish this past year's reading Schedule. ;)

Thursday, December 27, 2012

End of the Reading Year Timeline: Esther, Malachi, and Nehemiah

Note that this post has been edited in December 2013 to reflect the author's further research. She now believes that Esther was the contemporary of Ezra, Nehemiah, Haggai, Malachi, and Zechariah. Edited and added text appears in red below.


The events of Esther can be inserted into the timeline between Ezra chapters 6 and 7. In our previous timeline we saw that the Persian King Darius Hystaspis (also known by the Ahasuerus), ruled from 521-486 B.C.  In the beginning of the book of Esther we are told that the drunken party that signaled the downfall of Queen Vashti took place in the third year of his reign ( Esther 1:3) placing the time of the search for a new queen around 483 B.C.  Haman's plot did not occur until several years later (see Esther 3:7 which shows that Pur was cast in the twelfth year of the king's reign. Although we often operate under the assumption that the highlights of Esther's life presented in this book happened in rapid-fire succession a careful reading of the dates in 1:3 and 3:7 prove otherwise. Almost 10 years passes in the course of this book.

As an interesting footnote I found this informative article concerning the feast of Purim. Read down far enough to digest the author's argument that Jesus celebrated Purim in AD 28. Since we obviously believe the book of Esther to be part of the scriptural canon it seems reasonable to conclude that He would commemorate this national celebration. On the other hand, it seems to me that the fact that Jesus celebrated this feast, which is not one that God commanded His people to observe, validates the inclusion of Esther into the canon even though some argue otherwise because God is not directly mentioned by name anywhere in the book.

Esther was the cousin of Mordecai. There was a vast age difference between these two people, but this is very possible,as any genealogist knows and which is exhibited in my own family of 30+ first cousins where the youngest are the same age as the children of the oldest. Mordecai could easily have raised his uncle's daughter as his own child.

Mordecai was carried away from Judah as a Babylonian captive. Esther was born in captivity. That Mordecai lived long enough to become an official in the Persian king's court meant that I needed to reexamine my original timeline for this book. By moving Esther back a generation to being the wife of Darius Hystaspis Mordecai's age fits into the realm of being a senior citizen and not that of being a candidate for the Oldest Person Alive for the time with or without the Guinness books! He would probably have been somewhere in his eighties when he was promoted.

Ezra lists the name of Mordecai in Ezra 2:2 and Nehemiah lists him in Nehemiah 7:7. There is no reason to believe that this is not the same Mordecai that everyone contemporary to that time would know. After all, he was the relative of the queen and was even a high government official in his own right.

As for the queen, Nehemiah mentioned her as being beside the king when he presented his request to the king in Shushan the Palace. Why would he mention that the queen was there unless she was known by the readers? There were probably many people in the room, but this little detail speaks volumes. Esther was there! Not only was she interested in his request but she was Jewish and would be interested in the homeland that she herself had never seen.  And the people receiving Nehemiah's message would be interested that their champion, Queen Esther heard Nehemiah's request! Telling the readers that he was in Shushan was another clue that the queen mentioned was the lovely Jewish girl who became their queen, Esther, formerly known by her name of Hadassah.

(Here is a link to a well-thought out blog that discusses this issue. Feel free to browse through the various posts concerning Esther "The Queen of Persia" as well as Nehemiah and Ezra. Most of the information that I have read agrees with the book by Dr. Floyd Nolen Jones that I quote so often on this blog.)


The prophet Malachi's message was similar to that of his contemporary, Nehemiah, but directed specifically to the priests. Remember that the Jews had begun the Temple rebuilding under Zerubbabel but had stopped when they had met opposition, then renewed their effort after the prophets Haggai and Zechariah had delivered stern messages from God telling them to get back to work. In Malachi's time the project had not been totally completed but worship services had been going on long enough for the people, and even the priests, to have lost interest in them. The people were not giving offerings and the priests were not fulfilling the duties of their offices. And worse, the priests refused to keep themselves set apart for the ministry!

Malachi is the last book in the Old Testament but I included it in the schedule before Nehemiah as a reminder that it takes place at that same time. There would then be a 400 year silence between these books and the coming of The Prophet in the New Testament. In that interim time between the testaments would fall the Maccabean Period when the miracle of the Temple oil lasting for 8 days led to the celebration of Hanukkah (the above mentioned linked article also states that Jesus celebrated Hanukkah and this article explains the history of this holiday).

Malachi most likely delivered the message that He had received from God in approximately 430 B.C.


As the cupbearer to the king, Nehemiah, finds himself in a certain place "for such a time as this" just like Queen Esther did a few years earlier. And in reading the first few verses of the book of Nehemiah we find that Nehemiah served in the very same palace, Shushan, as did Esther. The king in Nehemiah's time was Ahasuerus, also known as Darius Hystapsis, the husband of Esther. According to Nehemiah 2:1 it was in Ahasuerus' 20th year of reign that the king questioned Nehemiah concerning his sad face. It was this grieving attitude that immediately moved Nehemiah to a quick prayer before uttering a bold request to be allowed to go to Jerusalem to lead in the rebuilding of the city walls and gates. This places the date of Nehemiah's request at 501 B.C.

The Bible does not specifically say why the king allowed Nehemiah and the Jews to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. It just says that he did. Perhaps his fondness for Esther prompted him to allow the walls of her peoples' capital city to be rebuilt. Remember that as far as we know Esther had never seen the city of Jerusalem. She was born in captivity but perhaps Mordecai had told her about their home far away.

Nehemiah was the contemporary of Ezra, Esther, and Malachi. The book tells us that Nehemiah spent at least 12 years as the governor in the area as appointed by the king (Nehemiah 13:6). He stood before the king again, 12 years later, asking to return to Jerusalem. When that petition was granted he returned to Jerusalem in an effort to teach the people to build walls of separation around their hearts. His book ends with much the same rebuke and appeal as does the one written by Malachi. Thus was the state of affairs at the end of the Old Testament timeline!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Take Time: Assignment for Week 1 (Example)

(This is an example of how the lessons will appear each week for the TAKE TIME  Bible study. Note that the assigned reading portions are greatly reduced from that of the read-through-the-Bible-in-a-year schedule designated as TAKE TEN in order to facilitate more depth and discussion.)

Introduction:  Everything has a beginning or an origin except God. In the Bible, the beginning book is Genesis. This week we will be reading about the beginning of our universe as created by the eternal God. Notice how in less than one week we go from reading "God saw that it was good" (Genesis 1:4, 10, 12, 18, 21, 25, 31) to "God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually and it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart." (Genesis 6:5-6)

Reading Assignment:
  • Monday - Genesis 1:1-2:3
  • Tuesday - Genesis 2:4-3:13
  • Wednesday - Genesis 3:14-4:24
  • Thursday - Genesis 4:25-5:32
  • Friday - Genesis 6:1-7:10
  • Saturday - Genesis 7:11-8:19

Memory Verse

And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.   Genesis 2:7
Prayer Journal (ACTS)

  •  Adoration - Take time to praise God each day for being such an awesome Creator
  • Confession - God already knows about each sin but confess any as they come to your mind and ask Him to help you not sin that way again.
  • Thanksgiving - Thank God for His beautiful world! Thank Him for the things that you particularly enjoy (for instance, I like looking at the stars).
  • Supplication - What are your prayer requests this week? List them for future reference so that you can see how God answers.

Search the Scriptures

Look for references for each of the following:
  • Promises that God made and to whom He made them. Do they apply to you?
  • References that either refer to or infer something about future events.
  • What does this passage teach about Jesus?

Putting the Word into Action

God made man to have dominion over the creation (not worship it). What can you do this week to properly care for your home, the people in it, and any animals you have in order to show proper respect to God and the things He put under your jurisdiction?

Friday, December 7, 2012

Timeline: Ezra, Haggai and Zechariah

Note: This post was edited 12/1/13 to reflect the author's further timeline research. Most of the changes concern Queen Esther, a person that we'll talk about more in the weeks ahead.

The captivity was over and many of the Jews were permitted by King Cyrus of Persia in 538 B.C. to return to their homeland. One of the first things they did was to begin the rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem. Like many people, the workers on this project started off with great enthusiasm that waned over time due to obstacles and discouragement.

Ezra, who wrote the book that bears his name, was the contemporary of Nehemiah. He was of the line of Aaron and his attention to detail prove that he was a scholarly and dedicated priest. His volume is divided into two separate time frames, the first being the historical background given about the return of the first group under Zerubbabel, and the second containing events contemporary to his own time.

As for the timeline, the first 6 chapters describe the conditions from 538 to 516 B.C. The next 4 chapters describe Ezra's own ministry around the time of 458 B.C. I have divided the book further in our reading schedule to show where Queen Esther fit into the timeline as well (more on her book in a couple of weeks).

According to the notes in The New Open Bible Study Edition (KJV) the post-exilic events can be divided in this way:
  • 538-515 B.C. - The first return under Zerubbabel. (As covered by Ezra chapters 1-6)
  • 483-473 - The events of the book of Esther*
  • 457 B.C. - The second return under Ezra. (As covered by Ezra chapters 7-10)
  • 444-425 B.C. - The third return and events found in the book of Nehemiah.
* I have since come to believe that the date stated above is in error! The name "Ahasuerus" is a title, not a name. It is the same as saying, "The Shah of Iran." As such any of the men in the list can be called Ahasuerus. In the case of Esther, by examining evidence, including but not limited to one of my favorite timeline books, The Chronology of the Old Testament, by Dr. Floyd Nolen Jones (Master Books) and doing the math and plotting it with known records from world history, I have reached the conclusion that the events found in the book of Esther probably occurred about 518-508 B.C. That would make her husband Darius I Hystapsis, the "Ahasuerus" who ruled over 127 provinces!

Also found in the notes is a helpful list of the kings of Persia:
  • Cyrus (539-530 B.C.) * Note: Date was corrected to denote his 9 year reign, not 29!
  • Cambyses (530-522 B.C.)
  • Smerdis (522 B.C.)
  • Darius I Hystapsis (521-486 B.C.) *The husband of Esther
  • Ahasuerus (486-464 B.C.)
  • Artaxerxes I (464-423 B.C.)
  • Darius II (423-404 B.C.)
It is Cyrus that decreed that God put it into his heart to build the Temple in Jerusalem. Zerubbabel, a prince of the kingly line of David, led the effort of the first group to return. (You will find Zerubbabel's name listed in the genealogy in Matthew 1:12-13.) Like anyone doing a work for God, Zerubbabel encountered massive opposition by those who did not want to see it succeed. In fact Ezra 4:4-5 says that the inhabitants of the land, those who had taken possession during the Jewish dispersion, frustrated the Jew's every effort to settle back into their homeland. (Is it me or does this sound very much like current events?) By 534 B.C. the work on the Temple stopped. There was little to show beyond the Temple's foundation.

Fast forward a few years and a few verses past those previously quoted in Ezra 4 to describe the work stoppage to Ezra 5:1 where we will find the names of Haggai and Zechariah, the prophets that God raised up to get things moving again. God is definitely the God of precision! In Haggai 1:1 the exact date is given of the day when Haggai spoke to Zerubbabel and Joshua, the high priest, telling them to get their crew back on the job. (The notes in my Bible state that the 2nd year,  6th month, and 1st day of that month of the reign of Darius correspond to September 1, 520 B.C. That may or may not be accurate.) I have since come to the conclusion that this is the husband of Esther, the Jewess!

At the same time that Haggai delivered his message, Zechariah, a prophet of the priestly line, delivered his own message from God. Notice that his commenced two months after the start of Haggai's.

The work on the Temple was completed within four years of the return to work of Zerubbabel and Company. Commentaries suggest that Zechariah prophecied many years beyond the Temple rebuilding and that the prophecies given in chapters 9 through 14 concerning the coming Messiah were delivered between 480 and 470 B.C. If that be the case they were preached during the reign of Ahasuerus, the son of Esther's husband.

Just as our year is coming to a close, so is our Bible timeline. We have just three more historical books and one poetical book left to highlight. I trust that seeing how scriptural events "fit" in time have helped you to appreciate more fully our God, the Eternal One that humbled himself and became part of earth's history!

Thursday, December 6, 2012


I posted the TAKE TEN 2013 Bible Reading Schedule on the tab above for those of you that might be interested in reading through the Bible in a semi-chronological, highly contextual format next year. It has again been revised from all of the previous schedules. What can I say? The more that I read and study my Bible the more I change my mind about where things fit!

For instance, if you are following the 2012 Plan you might want to read Ezra chapters 1-4 prior to today's scheduled reading of Haggai which is then to be followed by Zechariah. Just read Ezra 1 and 2 today, then Ezra 3 and 4 tomorrow. Follow this with Haggai on Saturday and Zechariah on the following days. You'll be back on track in about a week.

Anyway. . . I say all this to announce that I will not be reading the Bible through in a year's time with you in 2013 and probably not in 2014 or 2015 either. No, I have not deserted my faith and I am not going to stop reading my Bible each day so take a deep breath or close your mouth! On the contrary, I have decided that I want to TAKE TIME for deeper study and this could take several years. I anticipate three (at least).

This idea has been knocking around in my head since our church's teen summer camp. Some of the young ladies mentioned that they would like to read through the Bible but doing it in a year is too much. It seems the whole "Take Ten" (meaning 10 minutes a day) might be do-able for me, but it takes them (and most adults, too) longer than that to read the assignment. That's okay! The idea is not to discourage people but to get them to read the Bible!!!!!

As a result I came home determined to divide Bible reading into more manageable portions for them. I introduced the Take Ten for Teens version here and some told me they like this idea. For the teens the focus each week was on a memory verse, a prayer primer using the ACTS (Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Supplication) formula because in my humble opinion most young people - and adults, too - spend an inordinate amount of their prayer time - such as it is - on the "S" and very little on the A-C-T parts, and a putting into action element. Some might call this a "social gospel" segment. I, on the other hand, see it as what the KJV calls "charity"in I Corinthians 13 and what James (in any version) calls "faith that works, or putting faith into practice" or what the whole Bible teaches as obedience to God's Word!

I have chosen other nuggets to mine in my own study. Personally, I wish to uncover the promises that God made and to discover to whom they were made. (This desire comes of reading Batterson's book The Circle Maker this past summer. I'm not endorsing the book, but I did develop a determination to find the promises in the Bible that are meant for me!)

I also want to spend time studying the future as revealed in the Bible as deeply as I've studied the past found in it (the whole Timeline theme!) because there is a whole lot more life ahead than that which  as passed as earth's history and I don't care which opinion of the Old Earth/Young Earth debate you hold. Well, I care, but in light of eternity millions of years doesn't seem that long, now does it? (This particular study theme comes from reading Alcorn's book Heaven recently which was refreshing and scriptural because he is not one of those individuals who claims to have been there and back again.)

And last, but far from least, I want to find Jesus in each passage. While walking on the road to Emmaus after His resurrection, He explained to a couple of disciples that the law and the prophets spoke of Him. I want Him to teach me the same thing.

I gave it the name of TAKE TIME so that it would not be confused with the TAKE TEN yearly reading schedule. The shortened reading segments will allow some to take just ten minutes to read their Bible each day without frustration (hopefully!) and more in-depth study for those who desire it.

I hope you will help me with the TAKE TIME discussions even if you do not read along. Perhaps you have mined gems from certain passages that I miss and will share them with me.

Note: The TAKE TIME discussions will begin during the first full week of January (7th- 12th) since the original Teen pages were not dated but designed to be read Monday through Saturday each week.