Monday, September 21, 2015

TAKE TIME: Week 105 Assignment

Introduction:  This week we conclude the major portion of the Old Testament chronology and segue into reading any poetical literature not previously covered. This includes most of the Psalms and all chapters of Proverbs. There were a few psalms that were covered in their chronological context and those will not be repeated. (Check the index.) I do not consider it improper to study a psalm or proverb outside of the original chronology since these were used by the Hebrew people very much like Christians sing "Amazing Grace" now, a hymn penned by John Newton in approximately 1779. Can you imagine how fervently the post-exilic Hebrews sang the Psalms of Degrees written many years prior by David as they traveled to Jerusalem? Having the opportunity to attend feasts and holy days once more must have been a poignant experience indeed for those who had returned to the land after 70 years of captivity!

  • Monday - Nehemiah chapter 12
  • Tuesday - Nehemiah chapter 13
  • Wednesday - Psalms 1 and 2
  • Thursday - Psalms 3 and 4
  • Friday - Psalms 5 and 6
  • Saturday - Psalms 7 and 8
Memory Verse

 Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.
Psalm 1:1

Prayer Journal (ACTS)
  • Adoration - Praise God for being the Triune God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Even the psalms declare the distinctions of this awesome 3-in-1!
  • Confession - Ask God to reveal hidden sin in your life and then confess it.
  • Thanksgiving - Thank God for any answers to your prayers.
  • 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?
  • Commandments that God made and to whom He made them. Do they apply to you?

Putting the Word into Action
The psalms open with the word "blessed" or happy. Specifically, a man is blessed if he does not walk after ungodly counsel or stand in the way of sinners, or sit in the seat of the scornful. (See the progression? First we walk in the way of bad counsel. The next thing we know we're standing with the rebellious know-it-all crowd and finally we find ourselves sitting there with our arms folded across our chests looking down our noses at all those "ignorant people who don't know any better.") This week's assignment is a "spiritual map-check."  Have you taken ungodly counsel and have found yourself walking in it? (Usually you'll find yourself trying to justify something the Bible clearly says is wrong.) Are you finding comfort in the company you keep? (We tend to want to find others to help us justify our sinful behaviors or beliefs) Or have you already firmly planted yourself upon a seat where your opinions determine your attitude and actions? (We tend to argue incessantly for our "right" to do, think, believe something, etc. etc. etc. even if it specifically goes against the Word of God.

Check your map. Then change course if necessary.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Journal Through the Bible: Week 104 Saturday

Nehemiah chapter 11

A plan to resettle Jerusalem began to be revealed in chapter 7 when we were told that the walls were completed. It was then that it was noted that the houses were not yet built and the inhabitants were few. This led to the searching of the genealogy records for those living in the surrounding area.

In this chapter we are told that the rulers were offered permanent housing within the city. Some families volunteered to move there. The remaining homes were filled by drawing lots. Ten percent of the area population was then able to move within the confines of the walls. Evidently it was not something that everyone desired to do since the people thanked those who voluntarily made the move. We are given the names of certain men of Judah, Benjamin, and Levi that moved into Jerusalem.

The Nethinims and the musicians such as the sons of Asaph returned to the ceremonial duties of their ancestors as originally appointed under the kings of Judah beginning with King David. Many of them dwelt at Jerusalem with the priests and Levites since they were involved in Temple service. The rest lived upon their family inheritances in the outlying towns.

Does God issue any commands?

  • God does not speak.

Does God make any promises?

  • God does not speak.

Does this chapter teach anything about Jesus?

  • A portion of all inhabitants of the earth will inherit the New Jerusalem because Jesus has made provision for them. We do not know what percentage of all humans will ultimately be there, but it is sure to be a small percentage such as happened in the time of Nehemiah.
  • The Nethinims and sons of Asaph continued their appointed positions as assigned by the king. Jesus is our King and He has assigned His followers a work to be done. That assignment has not been revoked even though 2000 years have passed since Jesus gave the Great Commission.

Does this chapter teach anything about yet-future events?

  • Many of the Hebrews returned to the lands of their ancestors, lands passed down through generations since the time of the conquest of Joshua following the Exodus. Although it seems hard to believe, Revelation tells us that God has not forgotten the 12 tribes nor their possessions and inheritance. They will one day inherit all that God promised Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. We may not be able to trace the tribal lineages but God's records are perfect!

Friday, September 18, 2015

Journal Through the Bible: Week 104 Friday

Nehemiah chapter 10

Does God issue any commands?

  • God did not give new commandments here but the people had recently heard those that were given in the law of Moses. Many of the leading men signed a covenant promising to keep God's commandments. As governor, Nehemiah's signature was first.  
  • The people specifically mentioned the laws that God had given Moses concerning the Sabbath day, the Sabbath year, not intermarrying with their neighbors, the Temple upkeep, and the system of sacrifices and offerings.

Does God make any promises?

  • Not specifically but the implication is that if the people kept the covenant, which their ancestors had not done, they would not suffer punishment such as had befallen the generation before them.

Does this chapter teach anything about Jesus?

  • Jesus is the Lord of the Sabbath.
  • Jesus sets us free (as illustrated by the Sabbath year).
  • Jesus is God and He and as Light He has no fellowship with darkness (as per not intermarrying; He remained pure in spite of living among men).
  • Jesus is our Temple.
  • Jesus is our sacrifice, our offering, and the first-fruits.

Does this chapter teach anything about yet-future events?

  • God is the great covenant-keeper. One day the testament signed in the blood of His Son will be ratified and those under the covenant will inherit the land that has been promised to them. Not only does this mean that the Jewish nation will be given all that has been promised to them (it does mean that, too) but as the Apostle Paul told the Gentile believers, we also will inherit as the people of God based upon the merits of Jesus Christ and His righteousness.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Journal Through the Bible: Week 104 Thursday

Nehemiah chapter 9

Following the reading of the Word, the time of repentance, and the celebration of the Feast of Tabernacles that we read about in the previous chapter we find that they spent 1/4 of each day in the book of the law and 1/4 in confessing their sins and worshiping God. Now that was quite a revival!

It should be noted in this passage that the Jews affirmed their belief in the literal creation of the world by the Creator as well as all the events of the Exodus, including the drowning of their enemies in the "deeps" (verse 11) which had to have been the Red Sea and not the shallow Reed Sea. As a matter of fact, they affirmed all of the Biblical events that many say just could not have happened in the way the Bible said they did.

One event mentioned in this account was the inheritance of the land of Canaan. It was a poignant reminder to the people that their ancestors had taken over a land bursting with food. It was ready and waiting for them! Then many years later their ancestors gave over this land and its food to the invading Assyrians and Babylonians. Only when they were obedient to God did they dwell in safety. It was a lesson for them all. They were now basically sharecroppers.

Does God issue any commands?

  • The people read the Law of the Lord. The law is not spelled out in this chapter but since we have access to the same Old Testament we know what they read and what the commands are within the law given to Moses.

Does God make any promises?

  • The sermon preached by the Levites included a recitation of the blessings of God upon the nation throughout their history beginning from the time of creation. These were promises fulfilled.
  • One of the promises mentioned as being fulfilled is that they would be multiplied like the stars of heaven. (verse 23)
  • Another promise fulfilled is that God gave them the land He promised Abraham.

Does this chapter teach anything about Jesus?

  • Jesus is the fulfillment of the Covenant between God and man.
  • Jesus is the pillar of cloud and the pillar of fire that led the people by day and night because He is the light. (verse 12)
  • Jesus is the bread from heaven. (verse 15)
  • Jesus is the rock. (verse 15)

Does this chapter teach anything about yet-future events?

  • God is said to be forbearing, gracious, and merciful while His people turned their backs on Him. Then when their iniquity was full God judged the people and their land. The same God is forbearing, gracious, and merciful today even as His people turn away from Him. One day the world's iniquity will be full and God will judge it.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Journal Through the Bible: Week 104 Wednesday

Nehemiah chapter 8

Picture the scene described here. The people had completed the arduous task of clearing the rubble, rebuilding the walls, and setting up the city gates all while standing guard duty against the enemies that wanted to stop them from completing their mission. Then it had been determined that there were not enough people living in the city so a census of the local populace had been taken. The implication is that those from the surrounding area were offered refuge within the now-completed walls.

It had been hard work! And a month after it was completed the people gathered to hear Ezra, the priest and scribe, read the book of the Law. Most of those people had been born during the 70 years of captivity and were children or young adults. Perhaps some had wondered why all that work of rebuilding had been necessary in the first place. The reading of the Law answered that question unequivocally. Situated among the people were Levites who explained the law as Ezra was reading it. This may have included translating the text if any of the foreign-born Jews were not fluent in Hebrew!

Can you imagine the conviction of the people coupled with thanksgiving as they heard the ancient words that had determined both their punishment and subsequent restoration? This passage says they wept openly.

Notice how the worship of the people progressed. They stood respectfully when Ezra opened the scroll and read the scripture. After he finished reading, Ezra prayed. The people responded by saying, "Amen! Amen!" in unison while lifting up their hands toward heaven. Then they bowed their heads and the next thing mentioned is that they have their faces on the ground, presumably kneeling.  When one becomes convicted by the Word of the LORD it automatically humbles him. A person can find himself kneeling or prostrate before the God of the universe in repentance and praise.

I suggest becoming familiar with this attitude and posture. It is something we God-worshipers will be doing throughout eternity so why not get in practice now?

Does God issue any commands?
  • Generally, the law that Ezra read contained the commands of God.
  • Specifically, they found written in the law that the LORD commanded Moses that the children of Israel should dwell in booths in the Feast of Tabernacles during the seventh month. (It was in the seventh month that they read this passage in the Law. See verse 2.)  The people gladly followed this observance that both commemorated their Exodus and the Messiah that would one day come to "tabernacle" with them.

Does God make any promises?
  • The law that Ezra read contained the promises of God, too, including the promise of restoration such as the people were experiencing at that time. They were witnesses of God's promises being fulfilled.

Does this chapter teach anything about Jesus?

  • The Feast of Tabernacles as observed by the people in the latter part of the chapter was a portrayal of the Messiah, Jesus Christ. He "tabernacled" (took on our humanity) when He became man and dwelt among us.

Does this chapter teach anything about yet-future events?

  • The people wept when they considered the results of sin but the Levites told them the time for weeping was over. Now was a time of celebration because the joy of the Lord was their strength! They shared gifts of food with each other as they celebrated. This is a foreshadowing of that great day when all God's people will gather together. All earthly struggles will be over. There will be no more crying. All will share the goodness of the Lord together. The joy of the Lord is our strength!

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Journal Through the Bible: Week 104 Tuesday

Nehemiah 7:39-73
A detail of the priestly garments infographic
provided via Faithlife Network.
Lexham Press. Logos Bible Software Infographics.
Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2009. Print.

This is a continuation of the list of people that returned from captivity. We are given the names of the priests, specifically 4 of them. (These later divided into courses of service again as was shown when Zechariah was serving in the Temple when he had his meeting with the angel concerning the birth of John the Baptist.)

The Levites are also mentioned here as are the Temple servants (Nethinims) of Solomon. These were probably originally conquered Gentiles who assimilated into the Jewish culture by intermarrying with the Jews. After all, they could prove their genealogy whereas certain supposed men of the tribe of Levi could not and were therefore removed by the governor as priests until they had access to Urim and Thummin.

Does God issue any commands?

  • No, God does not speak, however this is a continuation of the leading of God to Nehemiah that was mentioned earlier in the chapter. (verse 5)

Does God make any promises?

  • No, God does not speak.

Does this passage teach anything about Jesus?

  • The Urim and Thummin was a tool  that pertained to the priest and was used for judgment and discerning God's will. No one today seems to know exactly what it was or how it worked but it was one of the means by which God communicated with His people before the law and prophets were complete. Jesus is our High Priest. He is also the Perfect Judge. Therefore, the Urim and Thummin is a picture of the Lord Jesus Christ, the One Who always did the Father's will and made it known to us.
  • There are some similarities between the people who had assumed a right to be in certain positions without proper verifying documents and the parable that Jesus told about the wedding where people presumed to participate without proper wedding garments. Proper accreditation is necessary in the kingdom of God.

Does this passage teach anything about yet-future events?

  • Only those with proper credentials (robes of righteousness as supplied through the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ) will be priests in God's future kingdom and Jesus will be the judge of who that is. Only those who are His can be priests in His Kingdom. (Priesthood of believers is one of the positions a person obtains when he or she trusts Christ. This means Christians have direct access to God. One day that access will be face-to-face communication while now it is by prayer through the Lord Jesus Christ, our mediator through Whom we have access to the very Throne of God the Father.)

Monday, September 14, 2015

Journal Through the Bible: Week 104 Monday

Nehemiah 7:1-38

After the gates were installed Nehemiah set up a system for guarding the city. It was a bit difficult since there were few people actually living inside the walls. The city was large but the houses had not yet been built.

Nehemiah consulted the genealogy records of those who returned from the exile. A similar list had been compiled by Ezra earlier. Nothing like records to provide people with a feeling of "ownership!" We will only read the lists of leaders and men who returned with Zerubbabel today. Note that when it says "the children of _______" followed by a number it means the children of a particular city or location, not the children of a man so named, although verse 21 lists the people from Ater that evidently descended from the former king Hezekiah.

Does God issue any commands?

  • Nehemiah stated that God put it into his heart to gather together the nobles, and the rulers, and the people, that they might be reckoned by genealogy.

Does God make any promises?

  • Not that I identified.

Does this chapter teach anything about Jesus?

  • Nehemiah appointed faithful men to be the watchmen over the inhabitants of Jerusalem. Jesus is the Watchman over all who will inhabit the New Jerusalem.

Does this chapter teach anything about yet-future events?

  • The wall was built and the gates were installed. The singers and porters were given their assignments. Then the gates of Jerusalem were to be shut for the protection of the city. In the New Jerusalem the walls are built and the gates are installed but they are never to be closed! All attendants will fulfill their assignments but with Jesus as the Watchman and with sin vanquished there will never be a chance of attack against it. (You can be there! Even now the Spirit and the bride say, "Come!" Revelation 22:17)

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Journal Through the Bible: Week 103 Saturday

Nehemiah chapter 6

Nehemiah had enemies. People doing the work of God always do. (They are usually people being used by those principalities, powers, rulers of the darkness of this world, and spiritual wickedness in high places that Ephesians 6:12 tells us that we wrestle against.)

How grievous it must have been for Nehemiah to constantly listen to the chatter of those around him declaring the virtues of Tobiah and his family. These same people in turn reported every word uttered by Nehemiah to Tobiah. With friends like this, who needed enemies?

Does God issue any commands?

  • God did not speak.

Does God make any promises?

  • God did not make any promises, but the fact that the work was done in only 52 days substantiates Nehemiah's claim in verse 16 that "this work was wrought of our God."

Does this chapter teach anything about Jesus?

  • I find it interesting that the tactics the enemies used on Nehemiah are similar to the tactics Satan used with Jesus. First there is a meeting. Nehemiah refused the invitation to meet. On the other hand, Jesus met Satan one-on-one and faced temptation. Nehemiah knew that they meant to do him mischief and that he probably could not win against them at least physically which would put his own life in jeopardy. Jesus faced Satan because He knew He would win and His life was not in jeopardy at that time. The next salvo was the "discredit" phase. Nehemiah's enemies produced false witnesses to slander him and make him appear as an opportunist. Satan stirred up false witnesses against Jesus all through His earthly ministry designed to make Jesus appear as either a lunatic or a liar with a god-complex! The following attack was in the form of entrapment. A false prophet hired by the enemy tried to place Nehemiah in a position where attackers could assassinate him. Several times the people were stirred up by false prophets (usually the religious leaders) to attempt to kill Jesus, once by pushing Him off of a cliff. Since it was not Jesus' time to die He passed through the crowd and went His way unharmed.

Does this chapter teach anything about yet-future events?

  • Not that I noticed, except to say that when God is in the work it gets done in God's timing. We're still waiting for that city not made with hands and it may seem like a long time to us but God has a timetable and He is keeping track of it. And when the time has come for it to be revealed to us "time shall be no more."