Have you been seeing what is taking place? Have you been seeing the conflicts? Have you been seeing the wondering? Have you been seeing the division? Have you been seeing the attacks? Have you been seeing the pull? Have you been seeing the instigators?
Are you going away? Are you going to return? Are you going to help unify? Are you going to help restore? Are you going to help rebuild?
Today’s reading made me ponder where we are as a people around the world. Today’s reading made me ponder where we are as a people as a country. And it makes me pray that we will find a way to come together and unify with God! It makes me pray that we will stick with God and not be lured away from the truth and the reality and stand with God! Let’s be prepared! Let’s get prepared! Let’s not be surprised but rather let’s be prepared! Jesus has provided us with direction! Jesus has provided us with instruction! Jesus has provided us a way!
Today’s reading begins with Ezra 3…
Rebuilding the Altar
1When the seventh month came and the Israelites had settled in their towns, the people assembled together as one in Jerusalem. 2Then Joshua son of Jozadak and his fellow priests and Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel and his associates began to build the altar of the God of Israel to sacrifice burnt offerings on it, in accordance with what is written in the Law of Moses the man of God. 3Despite their fear of the peoples around them, they built the altar on its foundation and sacrificed burnt offerings on it to the Lord, both the morning and evening sacrifices. 4Then in accordance with what is written, they celebrated the Festival of Tabernacles with the required number of burnt offerings prescribed for each day. 5After that, they presented the regular burnt offerings, the New Moon sacrifices and the sacrifices for all the appointed sacred festivals of the Lord, as well as those brought as freewill offerings to the Lord. 6On the first day of the seventh month they began to offer burnt offerings to the Lord, though the foundation of the Lordʼs temple had not yet been laid.
Rebuilding the Temple
7Then they gave money to the masons and carpenters, and gave food and drink and olive oil to the people of Sidon and Tyre, so that they would bring cedar logs by sea from Lebanon to Joppa, as authorized by Cyrus king of Persia.
8In the second month of the second year after their arrival at the house of God in Jerusalem, Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, Joshua son of Jozadak and the rest of the people (the priests and the Levites and all who had returned from the captivity to Jerusalem) began the work. They appointed Levites twenty years old and older to supervise the building of the house of the Lord. 9Joshua and his sons and brothers and Kadmiel and his sons (descendants of Hodaviah) and the sons of Henadad and their sons and brothers—all Levites—joined together in supervising those working on the house of God.
10When the builders laid the foundation of the temple of the Lord, the priests in their vestments and with trumpets, and the Levites (the sons of Asaph) with cymbals, took their places to praise the Lord, as prescribed by David king of Israel. 11With praise and thanksgiving they sang to the Lord:
“He is good;
his love toward Israel endures forever.”
And all the people gave a great shout of praise to the Lord, because the foundation of the house of the Lord was laid. 12But many of the older priests and Levites and family heads, who had seen the former temple, wept aloud when they saw the foundation of this temple being laid, while many others shouted for joy. 13No one could distinguish the sound of the shouts of joy from the sound of weeping, because the people made so much noise. And the sound was heard far away.
It won’t be easy and there will be opposition! There will always be naysayers! There will always be those who try to cause division! There will always be those who don’t want to see God’s will accomplished! But will you stand up! Will you stand for something rather than falling for anything? This is the day that the Lord has made, let’s rejoice and be glad in it! Let’s not be distracted but rather let’s accomplish the will of God and complete the good work that He has prepared in advance for us to do!
Do not be discouraged! Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Yes there will be many who will try to discourage you! Yes there will be many who will try to stop you! Yes there will be many who will try to keep you from completing the work God has given you to do! Do not be deceived!
Today’s reading continues with Ezra 4…
Opposition to the Rebuilding
1When the enemies of Judah and Benjamin heard that the exiles were building a temple for the Lord, the God of Israel, 2they came to Zerubbabel and to the heads of the families and said, “Let us help you build because, like you, we seek your God and have been sacrificing to him since the time of Esarhaddon king of Assyria, who brought us here.”
3But Zerubbabel, Joshua and the rest of the heads of the families of Israel answered, “You have no part with us in building a temple to our God. We alone will build it for the Lord, the God of Israel, as King Cyrus, the king of Persia, commanded us.”
4Then the peoples around them set out to discourage the people of Judah and make them afraid to go on building. 5They bribed officials to work against them and frustrate their plans during the entire reign of Cyrus king of Persia and down to the reign of Darius king of Persia.
Later Opposition Under Xerxes and Artaxerxes
6At the beginning of the reign of Xerxes, they lodged an accusation against the people of Judah and Jerusalem.
7And in the days of Artaxerxes king of Persia, Bishlam, Mithredath, Tabeel and the rest of his associates wrote a letter to Artaxerxes. The letter was written in Aramaic script and in the Aramaic language.
8Rehum the commanding officer and Shimshai the secretary wrote a letter against Jerusalem to Artaxerxes the king as follows:
9Rehum the commanding officer and Shimshai the secretary, together with the rest of their associates—the judges, officials and administrators over the people from Persia, Uruk and Babylon, the Elamites of Susa, 10and the other people whom the great and honorable Ashurbanipal deported and settled in the city of Samaria and elsewhere in Trans-Euphrates.
11(This is a copy of the letter they sent him.)
To King Artaxerxes,
From your servants in Trans-Euphrates:
12The king should know that the people who came up to us from you have gone to Jerusalem and are rebuilding that rebellious and wicked city. They are restoring the walls and repairing the foundations.
13Furthermore, the king should know that if this city is built and its walls are restored, no more taxes, tribute or duty will be paid, and eventually the royal revenues will suffer. 14Now since we are under obligation to the palace and it is not proper for us to see the king dishonored, we are sending this message to inform the king, 15so that a search may be made in the archives of your predecessors. In these records you will find that this city is a rebellious city, troublesome to kings and provinces, a place with a long history of sedition. That is why this city was destroyed. 16We inform the king that if this city is built and its walls are restored, you will be left with nothing in Trans-Euphrates.
17The king sent this reply:
To Rehum the commanding officer, Shimshai the secretary and the rest of their associates living in Samaria and elsewhere in Trans-Euphrates:
18The letter you sent us has been read and translated in my presence. 19I issued an order and a search was made, and it was found that this city has a long history of revolt against kings and has been a place of rebellion and sedition. 20Jerusalem has had powerful kings ruling over the whole of Trans-Euphrates, and taxes, tribute and duty were paid to them. 21Now issue an order to these men to stop work, so that this city will not be rebuilt until I so order. 22Be careful not to neglect this matter. Why let this threat grow, to the detriment of the royal interests?
23As soon as the copy of the letter of King Artaxerxes was read to Rehum and Shimshai the secretary and their associates, they went immediately to the Jews in Jerusalem and compelled them by force to stop.
24Thus the work on the house of God in Jerusalem came to a standstill until the second year of the reign of Darius king of Persia.
It isn’t going to be easy! We will need to be patient! We are to consider it pure joy when we face trials of many kinds! As we were taught, 2Consider it pure joy, my brothers, when you encounter trials of many kinds, 3because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. 4Allow perseverance to finish its work, so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. Don’t lose hope! Don’t worry! In this world we will have troubles! We have been told what is to come! We have also been given hope before Jesus has already won! “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
So let’s walk in love! Let’s remember what love is!
Let’s remember that God is Love! And how God desires for His love to be shone thru us to the world around us! Let’s live that we could replace the word love above with our names so that in and thru our lives Jesus will be glorified and people’s lives will be transformed!
Today’s reading again cries out to rebuild! Why not put God first! Why not pursue His purposes and His ways! Why not live lives worthy of God! Why not glorify God! Why don’t you return to God! Return to God and pursue His ways! Don’t you want His presence to be with you and the nation?
A Call to Build the House of the Lord
1In the second year of King Darius, on the first day of the sixth month, the word of the Lord came through the prophet Haggai to Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua son of Jozadak, the high priest:
2This is what the Lord Almighty says: “These people say, ‘The time has not yet come to rebuild the Lordʼs house.’ ”
3Then the word of the Lord came through the prophet Haggai: 4“Is it a time for you yourselves to be living in your paneled houses, while this house remains a ruin?”
5Now this is what the Lord Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways. 6You have planted much, but harvested little. You eat, but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill. You put on clothes, but are not warm. You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it.”
7This is what the Lord Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways. 8Go up into the mountains and bring down timber and build my house, so that I may take pleasure in it and be honored,” says the Lord. 9“You expected much, but see, it turned out to be little. What you brought home, I blew away. Why?” declares the Lord Almighty. “Because of my house, which remains a ruin, while each of you is busy with your own house. 10Therefore, because of you the heavens have withheld their dew and the earth its crops. 11I called for a drought on the fields and the mountains, on the grain, the new wine, the olive oil and everything else the ground produces, on people and livestock, and on all the labor of your hands.”
12Then Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, Joshua son of Jozadak, the high priest, and the whole remnant of the people obeyed the voice of the Lord their God and the message of the prophet Haggai, because the Lord their God had sent him. And the people feared the Lord.
13Then Haggai, the Lordʼs messenger, gave this message of the Lord to the people: “I am with you,” declares the Lord. 14So the Lord stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and the spirit of Joshua son of Jozadak, the high priest, and the spirit of the whole remnant of the people. They came and began to work on the house of the Lord Almighty, their God, 15on the twenty-fourth day of the sixth month.
The Promised Glory of the New House
In the second year of King Darius,
and continues…shall we not live under His blessings…shall we not return to Him and His ways!
1on the twenty-first day of the seventh month, the word of the Lord came through the prophet Haggai: 2“Speak to Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, to Joshua son of Jozadak, the high priest, and to the remnant of the people. Ask them, 3‘Who of you is left who saw this house in its former glory? How does it look to you now? Does it not seem to you like nothing? 4But now be strong, Zerubbabel,’ declares the Lord. ‘Be strong, Joshua son of Jozadak, the high priest. Be strong, all you people of the land,’ declares the Lord, ‘and work. For I am with you,’ declares the Lord Almighty. 5‘This is what I covenanted with you when you came out of Egypt. And my Spirit remains among you. Do not fear.’
6“This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘In a little while I will once more shake the heavens and the earth, the sea and the dry land. 7I will shake all nations, and what is desired by all nations will come, and I will fill this house with glory,’ says the Lord Almighty. 8‘The silver is mine and the gold is mine,’ declares the Lord Almighty. 9‘The glory of this present house will be greater than the glory of the former house,’ says the Lord Almighty. ‘And in this place I will grant peace,’ declares the Lord Almighty.”
Blessings for a Defiled People
10On the twenty-fourth day of the ninth month, in the second year of Darius, the word of the Lord came to the prophet Haggai: 11“This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘Ask the priests what the law says: 12If someone carries consecrated meat in the fold of their garment, and that fold touches some bread or stew, some wine, olive oil or other food, does it become consecrated?’ ”
The priests answered, “No.”
13Then Haggai said, “If a person defiled by contact with a dead body touches one of these things, does it become defiled?”
“Yes,” the priests replied, “it becomes defiled.”
14Then Haggai said, “ ‘So it is with this people and this nation in my sight,’ declares the Lord. ‘Whatever they do and whatever they offer there is defiled.
15“ ‘Now give careful thought to this from this day on—consider how things were before one stone was laid on another in the Lordʼs temple. 16When anyone came to a heap of twenty measures, there were only ten. When anyone went to a wine vat to draw fifty measures, there were only twenty. 17I struck all the work of your hands with blight, mildew and hail, yet you did not return to me,’ declares the Lord. 18‘From this day on, from this twenty-fourth day of the ninth month, give careful thought to the day when the foundation of the Lordʼs temple was laid. Give careful thought: 19Is there yet any seed left in the barn? Until now, the vine and the fig tree, the pomegranate and the olive tree have not borne fruit.
“ ‘From this day on I will bless you.’ ”
Zerubbabel the Lordʼs Signet Ring
20The word of the Lord came to Haggai a second time on the twenty-fourth day of the month: 21“Tell Zerubbabel governor of Judah that I am going to shake the heavens and the earth. 22I will overturn royal thrones and shatter the power of the foreign kingdoms. I will overthrow chariots and their drivers; horses and their riders will fall, each by the sword of his brother.
23“ ‘On that day,’ declares the Lord Almighty, ‘I will take you, my servant Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel,’ declares the Lord, ‘and I will make you like my signet ring, for I have chosen you,’ declares the Lord Almighty.”
Have you talked with God? Have you discussed your purpose? Have you discussed His plans? Are you aligning to them? Are you receptive to them? What would it take for you to receive it? What would you take to be obedient to it? Will you prepare in advance? Will you not wander to and fro not sure of what is next?
Let’s close with today’s reading from the New Testament and focus our thoughts on God’s Word and how we can make a difference today…Will you receive Jesus today?
1Every high priest is selected from among the people and is appointed to represent the people in matters related to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. 2He is able to deal gently with those who are ignorant and are going astray, since he himself is subject to weakness. 3This is why he has to offer sacrifices for his own sins, as well as for the sins of the people. 4And no one takes this honor on himself, but he receives it when called by God, just as Aaron was.
5In the same way, Christ did not take on himself the glory of becoming a high priest. But God said to him,
“You are my Son;
today I have become your Father.”
6And he says in another place,
“You are a priest forever,
in the order of Melchizedek.”
7During the days of Jesusʼ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with fervent cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. 8Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered 9and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him 10and was designated by God to be high priest in the order of Melchizedek.
Warning Against Falling Away
11We have much to say about this, but it is hard to make it clear to you because you no longer try to understand. 12In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of Godʼs word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! 13Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. 14But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.