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  • Writer's pictureRev. Kim Taylor

Pastor's Ponderings: Old Testament bible study on Ezra 4:24 - 5:5 (December 14, 2023)

Updated: Dec 21, 2023

Thursday Bible Study on the OT book of Ezra 4:24 - 5:5

Bible open to the Old testament book of Ezra
Holy Bible book of Ezra

Blessings and Peace be with you in this very busy time of the year.

The study is a little late getting out to you today. I am working from home, so this morning I started out with practice time on the piano music I am using Sunday and also on Christmas Eve at the morning worship. My home Yamaha piano was just tuned by the same tuner as the man who does our Kawai at church. At both places he did a wonderful job, making these pianos real joys to play. However, I kind of get lost when I am playing, and the time gets by without my realizing how much has gone by. So, here I am, after lunch, getting to you. Please continue praying for peace in the Middle East, and also for families who find themselves in difficult times right now. Whatever the reason, Christmas can be really stressful, so pray for healing and the hope of the infant born in Bethlehem to bring them all the comfort they need for healing and good in their homes.

Today we are in the book of Ezra, and we discover two names with whom we should all be familiar. This is often the case when we are working in the prophets in the Old Testament, and we are uncertain about how they fit into the general history of the people of Israel. The situation in this passage is that the prophets come to the Judahite people who have been in the process of rebuilding the temple and the city of Jerusalem, but prior to this time have been ordered by Artaxerxes to cease their rebuilding due to the intervention of the Samaritans who are angry that they have not been recognized in their own religious practices by the Judahites, and have therefore not been able to join the lately returned Judahites in their worship or their rebuilding processes. They let Artaxerxes know that these people would be a danger to Persia if they ever completed this rebuilding. So, the Judahites have been under a cease-and-desist order from the kind of Persia. However, now comes the twist. Not only one, but two prophets are sent with messages from God. Their prophecy is clear. Begin the building again, and in spite of objections from the Governor of the People beyond the River, and others, Tattanai was the governor, and other was named Shethzar-bozenai. Of course, they sent a letter immediately to inform the king of Persia, Darius. They even went to the people doing the building and asked that the men be identified to them, but the elders of the Judahites ignored them due to the prophets' message. Oh yes, the names of two prophets were Haggai and Zechariah, and it was Zerubbabel who took the prophecy to heart and began to build again.

There is an important lesson for us as the people of God. Though things may from time to time, change direction, we must always know that God will find a way to direct His Work on earth, and sometimes it will mean that there may be delays and stops, but that it is God who is the one who is charge of His Work on earth through His Son Jesus Christ.

I know that sometimes we get disheartened in the work of the Kingdom of God, sharing the Gospel with grace and love for all people. Sometimes our churches slow down, and we think that what we are doing is just treading water and not moving boldly forward. When we are faithful, and trust the Father, the Son, and Holy Spirit to be with us even when we doubt that we are making any progress, we are likely to discover that what we have felt was a slowing down, was indeed a time of preparation, of getting ready to renew our strength, and to mount as if we are on the wings of eagles ( a Biblical reference ), and we discover that we have always been nurtured by God's Love and Promise for our lives in Jesus Christ, and then, though we may not expect it, we can once again soar surrounded by the power of the Spirit. We may become disheartened, yet example after example of the God who loves His children, and all of His creation is ours when we take the time to study His Word in Scripture. So, don't stop trying, don't give up. Live every day filled with joy in God's Love for you. (Note: Haggai comes to the people because they are discouraged by lack of money and resources to complete the work to which they have been called. And, instead of getting angry with the Judahites for their lack of trust in God and His resources for them, God sends Zechariah to bring messages of encouragement. Specifics of their messages are for a time when we study these prophets.)

Please remember that next week will still be doing studies of Mark and Ezra, and then I will be off for two weeks after Christmas, returning to our studies beginning on Monday, January 8, 2024. Wow this is the first time I believe that I have written the new year's numbers! The time is short, and the learning never stops.

In Christ's love, Pastor Kim


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