Thursday morning Bible Study on the OT Book of Ezra 5:6-17
Good morning, my dear friends.
May the quiet of that night so long ago in Bethlehem, when God gave His Son to this broken world, give you moments of wonder and joy in all of the busyness of this season. Today please pray for the victims of war for safety, their hunger issues, health, and so much more that you and I take for granted every day. The same is true for the safety of those in Iceland right now who are faced with the loss of their homes and community to the new volcano which began erupting a few days ago. Also pray for the northern East Coast of our nation, as the people who live there recover from devastating rains. In this season of celebration and partying, I pray that you will find in your travels that every person who you meet will treasure your life, just as you treasure them. Reminder that there will be no Bible Studies for the next two weeks.
This passage is mostly about revealing the people's story, and the difference that exists between sharing that complete story within the community of the Judahites, and a totally different thing when challenged to reveal the truths of the Judahite's story to those outsiders, the people beyond the river, or even the current King of Persia. Both Ezra and Nehemiah write in a way that is helpful and complete for the Judahites, but it seems clear that if they wrote so that others outside of the community of the faithful people of God their writing would take a very different shape. It would not be important for King Darius to try to understand the reason behind why the Judahites had been exiles in Persia other than the fact that they were a rebellious people who refused to give in to the demands of their conquerors. But the whole story is less about that, and completely about the fact that they had angered their "Great God", and had lost their land and place to His judgement, and that the Persians were simply God's tool for that exile to take place. Without explanation, some 100 + years before the time of Ezra, the Persian King had once again been the unknowing tool of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and had even sent the Judahites back to Jerusalem with the promise of all of the money necessary for the rebuilding of the city, and the restoration of the vessels of worship which were worth a great deal of money in the treasury of Persia, though one must imagine that after their conquering of many smaller nations, the Persian treasury was loaded with the prizes of war and tribute. For you and me is is important that we acknowledge that God works in ways which may well be beyond our imagination. Accepting God's love in Jesus Christ means that, as a result, we are always to be prepared to be surprised by the in-breaking action of the Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer of Life. God's elect, the Judahites, had no idea that they might be rescued by their God to return to rebuild Jerusalem, and that their captors would bear the costs for the whole project. I have to tell you, in this time of waning membership numbers in the Church, we must remember that the Church is God's, and God will act to bring this broken world back to the communities of faith. I know in the core of my being, that seeking to live with God first in my life, and treating everyone with Grace, not the limiting grace which I can muster, but the greatest Grace, the Grace of God's Love for us, faith will prosper by His Hand and Christ's Church will be restored. I may not live long enough to see that day come to fruition, but I will continue to work as a servant of the Gospel of Jesus Christ with all of the confidence of Christ's gift of faith that His Church will come back into the hearts of God's children, and She will be with the people of God forever.
Just a note ---- Remember those leaders who wanted to bring the reconstruction to a halt? In the passage we will do as we come back together in the new year, those leaders are met with direction they did not want to hear.
Merry Christmas to you all, the Birthday of the Savior is nearly upon us.
In His Grace, Pastor Kim Taylor