Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Zechariah 11: A Bad Shepherd

Jesus referred to Himself as "the good shepherd."  Zechariah 11 presents us with a picture of one who could only be described as "a bad shepherd!"

Zechariah 10: Chosen Again

Israel's relationship with the Lord has certainly seen its share of ups (exodus, conquest, David, godly kings) and downs (wilderness wanderings, civil war, idolatry, exile).  After losing everything to the Babylonians, the people naturally wondered, "Is that it?  Is our special relationship with God over?"

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Zechariah 9: Zechariah's Most Famous Verse

"Rejoice greatly, O daughter Zion!  Shout aloud, O daughter Jerusalem!  Lo, your king comes to 
you; triumphant and victorious is he, humble and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey" (vs. 9).

Zechariah 8: From Fasting To Feasting

In chapter 8, Zechariah is talking about what national restoration is going to look like for Judah.  God is planning to take them from misery to joy, from near death to rebirth, from fasting to feasting.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Zechariah 7: Fair Play

"Just as, when I called, they would not hear, so, when they called, I would not hear, says the Lord of hosts" (vs. 13).

Psalm 147: Action And Reaction

Psalm 147 calls for actions on our part which are really reactions to God's original work in His creation.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Zechariah 4: Zerubbabel's Mission

In Zechariah's day, the remnant that had returned from Babylon was wondering when the Messiah would appear.  Some thought that promised leader to restore the people to God might be Zerubbabel.

Zechariah 3: A Brand Plucked From The Fire

Zechariah 3 gives us an unusual peek behind the spiritual curtain where angels argue with Satan.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Zechariah 2: God's Plan For Jerusalem

The Book of Zechariah includes prophetic visions and direct exhortations to the people.  In chapter 2, we find an example of both.

Zechariah 1: A Second Chance

Zechariah is a prophet who tells the people that God is giving them a second chance.

Haggai 2: Happy Days Are Here Again

With the Temple work restarted, the people's concern for the Lord has been demonstrably renewed.  As a result, Haggai's words are encouraging.  He looks to the future and sees blessing ahead for Judah.

Haggai 1: Kickstarter

The prophet Haggai's calling seems short and sweet.  He was given a word for a specific time and place: Get to work on rebuilding the Temple of the Lord!

Monday, November 21, 2016

Psalm 146: Our Help And Our Hope

"Happy are those whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord their God" (vs. 5).

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Ezra 6: We're Going To Build A Temple And Make The Gentiles Pay For It

In their quest to make Judah great again, the Jews got to work on rebuilding the Temple.  While not huge like Solomon's Temple, it was still pretty respectable as the central focus of worship.  When questioned about it by their enemies, they held a trump card: permission from Cyrus had been given them many years earlier.  Darius researched the Jews' contention and found that it was just like they had said.  In fact, Darius agreed that not only was the Temple to be rebuilt, but the cost for doing so was to come out of the royal revenues (vs. 8).  The opposition melted away, and the construction was finally completed.  A service of dedication was held, followed by a Passover celebration (vs. 16 and 19).  The Jews were back, and so was the Temple.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Ezra 5: Under Construction

Thanks to the prodding of two prophets (Haggai and Zechariah), the temple construction resumes.  As the work gets going again, however, so does the opposition.  The governor Tattenai comes along to ask the Jews what they think they are doing.  When he doesn't get a satisfactory answer from them, the governor pens a letter to Darius the king asking for guidance.  In the meantime, the work continues and the rebuilding project goes forward.  As the Jews said to Tattenai, "Then this Sheshbazzar came and laid the foundations of the house of God in Jerusalem; and from that time until now it has been under construction, and it is not yet finished" (vs. 16).  The chapter ends with the expectation of a reply from Darius in this matter.  Will the rebuilding be allowed to continue, or will it be put to a stop once again?

Ezra 4: Work Stoppage

The reconstruction of the Temple did not go smoothly.  It wasn't like the days of Solomon where David had prepared everything beforehand.  Instead, Zerubbabel actually had to face down political opposition from some of Judah's hostile neighbors who were successful in interrupting the work of rebuilding.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Ezra 3: Mixed Emotions

Imagine a tumultuous crowd where people are simultaneously shouting with joy and weeping for grief.  That's what took place at the laying of the foundation of the second Temple, sometimes called Zerubbabel's Temple.  

Ezra 2: The Remnant

Ezra 2 reads like some of the other census records we see in the Bible.  Here the ones enumerated are those returning from exile.  They are the remnant of God's people that were spared and now have the responsibility of restoring the nation.

Ezra 1: Return From Exile

Thus far in the Old Testament, we have witnessed the incredible story of the people of Israel.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Psalm 145: Forever And Ever

Psalm 145 really brings home the idea of God's everlasting nature, as well as the hope of eternal life spent worshiping in His presence.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Daniel 12: Prophetic Even For A Prophet!

One of the things you notice as you read Daniel 12 is how many elements of his prophecy are incorporated into New Testament prophecy.  Even for a biblical prophet, Daniel was pretty prophetic!

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Daniel 11: You Can't Tell The Players Without A Scorecard!

Everything about Daniel 11 is obvious, so there's no need for me to blog about it.  You understand this clearly, right?

Friday, November 11, 2016

Daniel 10: Touched By An Angel

What do you think a visit by an angel would be like?  If the biblical encounters are any indication, they would be awesome, overpowering events!

Daniel 9: Weak Weeks Interpretations

Daniel 9 represents one of the most contentious and difficult areas of prophecy in the Bible.

Daniel 8: Horns Aplenty

In Daniel's second vision, recounted in chapter 8, he sees a couple of animals with very interesting horn patterns - each representing something specific in addition to the regular symbolism of horns to indicate power.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Daniel 7: Daniel's Dream

The book of Daniel consists of two parts.  The first six chapters are narratives describing events that happened to Daniel and his friends.  The last six chapters detail visions that were given to Daniel, along with his prophetic interpretations.  As we enter into the second half of Daniel, buckle your seatbelts for some pretty wild images!

Psalm 144: God Of War

Psalm 144 contains a few verses about wars and battles that modern readers may find disquieting, but that ancient people would have sung gladly.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Daniel 6: God Is My Judge

When the time came for Debbie and I to name our first child, we chose Daniel.  Chapter 6 demonstrates why Daniel was such a fitting name for the prophet, and why it continues to be a good choice today.

Daniel 5: God's Graffiti

"Mene Mene Tekel Parsin."  When a mysterious, disembodied hand suddenly appears during a royal banquet and writes these words on a wall, King Belshazzar (son of Nebuchadnezzar) turns to Belteshazzar (Daniel) for an explanation.

Daniel 4: Goin' Out Of My Head

Daniel 4 comes to us in the form of a letter written by Nebuchadnezzar himself, recounting a royal dream and its interpretation of impending madness and restoration that came to pass.

Daniel 3: Into The Fire

The story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in Daniel 3 is pretty straightforward.  They are required to either fall down and worship the statue that Nebuchadnezzar has set up, or be thrown into a fiery furnace.  Unfortunately, what the king was asking the Jews to do was idolatry - something forbidden for them by God.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Daniel 2: Nebuchadnezzar's Dream

Dream interpretation is hard enough.  Imagine being asked to not only interpret a dream, but to do so without being told what the dream was in the first place!