Friday, December 30, 2016

Malachi 4: Ending On Expectation

Is this the end?  Malachi 4 ends not with finality but rather an expectation that more is to come.

Malachi 3: "My Messenger"

In the penultimate chapter of the Old Testament, we read of a coming penultimate prophet, a messenger who will appear before the Lord Himself arrives: "See, I am sending my messenger to prepare the way before me, and the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple. The messenger of the covenant in whom you delight—indeed, he is coming, says the Lord of hosts" (vs. 1).

Malachi 2: Keeping Covenant

The second chapter of Malachi expresses God's displeasure at the persistent covenant unfaithfulness of the Jews.  In three different ways, the nation of Judah is guilty of breaking its promises.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Malachi 1: R-E-S-P-E-C-T

"A son honors his father, and servants their master. If then I am a father, where is the honor due me? And if I am a master, where is the respect due me? says the Lord of hosts to you, O priests, who despise my name" (vs. 6).

Nehemiah 13: That Was Fast

Remember the covenant renewed in Nehemiah 10?  While Nehemiah is away to see King Artaxerxes, the people quickly fall into their old habits and break the terms that they had so recently pledged to follow.  When Nehemiah returns, he is NOT happy.

Nehemiah 12: Dedication Of The Wall

With the work of rebuilding the wall completed, the covenant renewed, and the city of Jerusalem on its way to being repopulated, it's time for a party!

Nehemiah 11: The Repopulation Of Jerusalem

Nehemiah rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem; now the city is ready to be repopulated.

Nehemiah 10: The Covenant Renewed

Nehemiah 10 recounts that moment in Israel's history after the exile when the Jews officially re-commit themselves to the covenant between the people and God.  Signing and sealing a document, they "join with their kin, their nobles, and enter into a curse and an oath to walk in God’s law, which was given by Moses the servant of God, and to observe and do all the commandments of the Lord our Lord and his ordinances and his statutes" (vs. 29).

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Nehemiah 9: From There To Here

Ezra's speech in Nehemiah 9 is a recap of the chosen people's experience with all its ups and downs.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Nehemiah 7: Heavenly Inspiration

"Then my God put it into my mind to assemble the nobles and the officials and the people to be enrolled by genealogy" (vs. 5).

Nehemiah 6: The Great Wall Of Jerusalem

In spite of continued efforts to frustrate the task of rebuilding and slow down the work of constructing the wall, Nehemiah's efforts met with great success.  The wall was completed in only 52 days (vs. 15).

Nehemiah 5: Taking Advantage?

Nehemiah 5 deals with some of the ethical issues going on in ancient Jerusalem at this point in history.  Was it right to lay interest on fellow Jews who could not afford to pay?  Should Nehemiah as governor exert all the privileges that came with his office?  The answer to both questions was no.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Psalm 150: Praise Him With Everything!

"If you have it, praise God with it" seems to be the thrust of Psalm 150!

Nehemiah 3: Teamwork

"Teamwork makes the dream work" may be a bit of a cliche, but in the case of rebuilding the wall around Jerusalem, it was true!

Friday, December 16, 2016

Nehemiah 2: An "Arrow Prayer"

Can you pray in a mere instant?  Nehemiah could, and did.

Nehemiah 1: Defenseless

The Book of Nehemiah deals largely with the problems of Jerusalem after the return of the exiles.  Its walls and gates have been left in ruins, and the city lies defenseless.  Nehemiah, however, is not content to let this situation continue!

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Ezra 10: Separation

In response to the crisis of intermarriage, Ezra urges the Jews to separate from their foreign wives and children.

Ezra 9: A Crisis Of Intermarriage

When Ezra arrives in Jerusalem, he is told that many of the leaders of the people are guilty of a sin: they had taken for themselves and for their sons wives from the surrounding nations.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Ezra 8: Praying For Protection

An interesting part of Ezra's journey from Babylonia to Jerusalem involves his feelings about praying to God for protection on the way.

Ezra 7: Introducing Ezra

It took over half the book that bears his name, but in chapter 6 we finally get to meet Ezra!

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Psalm 149: Militaristic Praise?

Psalm 149 seems to have two agendas.  Singing songs of praise to God from the throat - and wielding swords of justice from God with their hands!

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Esther 10: Second-In-Command

The Book of Esther ends with a report of how Mordecai is on top of the empire, alongside King Ahasuerus.  He was well-regarded, being both powerful and popular, and served as a good second-in-command.  Chapter 10 is only three verses long, and closes out the story of Esther with a happy ending.

Esther 9: Birth Of A Holiday

Ever heard of the Jewish holiday Purim?  Esther 9 describes how that celebration came to be.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Esther 8: The Shoe Is On The Other Foot

After the death of Haman, there is still the little matter of the Jews' pending extermination to clear up.

Esther 7: The Old Switcheroo

Haman was already surprised and humiliated by the sudden elevation of Mordecai in chapter 6.  In chapter 7, he is shocked to discover that Queen Esther is among the Jewish people he had persuaded the king to exterminate!

Esther 6: Mistaken Identity

Who says you can't find humor in the Bible?  The irony of Haman thinking that the king is about to honor him when in fact Mordecai is the intended recipient gives rise to one of the funniest scenes in scripture!

Esther 5: Making Mountains Out Of Molehills

Have you ever seen someone driven to distraction by a minor dissatisfaction?  Then you have an idea of what Haman was like.  He might have been all right if he hadn't insisted on making mountains out of molehills.

Esther 4: For Such A Time As This

As you can imagine, when word gets out about Haman's plans to exterminate the Jews, it naturally causes a great deal of distress!

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Esther 3: Haman Vs. Mordecai

Have you ever seen a personal slight or petty offense grow into something much larger and more damaging?  Something like that happened in the days of Queen Esther between her cousin Mordecai and King Ahasuerus' right hand man Haman.

Esther 2: Esther Becomes Queen

One thing to notice about the story of Esther is how God quietly moves behind the scenes of this drama, steering events to happen in a way that will ultimately lead to the benefit of His people.  

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Esther 1: Nipping It In The Bud

The Book of Esther begins with a royal banquet given by King Ahasuerus.  At one point during the proceedings, Ahasuerus summons his wife, Queen Vashti, to appear at the party because he wants to show off her beauty before his officials.  When she refuses to come at the king's bidding, she triggers a social crisis.

Psalm 148: Praise, Praise, Praise

As the Book of Psalms nears its end, the emphasis is on praise.

Zechariah 14: Cataclysm!

Zechariah 14 describes a dramatic final battle between the Lord and the forces of evil, one which greatly affects the natural world and landscape around Jerusalem.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Zechariah 13: There Is A Fountain

"There is a fountain filled with blood
Drawn from Immanuel’s veins;
And sinners, plunged beneath that flood,
Lose all their guilty stains."

Zechariah 12: Glimpses Of Jesus?

How many indirect glimpses of Jesus can you find in Zechariah 12?