Tag Archives: Zerubbabel

Through the Bible, June 15

Reading: Haggai 1-2

Summary: Haggai, along with Zechariah, is named in Ezra 5:1 in connection with Zerubbabel’s efforts to rebuild the temple.  Prophets have been sent to deliver God’s message to nations, cities, and kings.  Haggai is sent specifically to leaders of the Jewish people attempting to re-occupy Jerusalem to remind them that it is time to rebuild the house of the Lord.

Devotional Thought:

It’s Not Complicated

God’s expectations of humanity are not difficult.  We really can—and must—know what God wants.  The Bible makes these things rather explicit and clear.

“Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man” (Ecc. 12:13).

Fear God and obey God–simple enough.

That’s what happened as a result of the message of the prophet Haggai: “…the people obeyed the voice of the Lord their God…and the people feared the Lord” (Hag. 1:12).

Here’s the thing, obedience without fear is worthless.  Fear (reverence) without obedience is no fear.  Fear God and obey God.

But what about love? you ask.  Fair enough.

The Bible is also explicit and clear about this too.  Jesus calls it the “great and first commandment” (Matt. 22:37-38): “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might” (Deut. 6:5).

Remember too that “If you love me you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15).

Love God and obey God.  The same holds true for this pair as well; one without the other is not real or valid.

Fear God.  Love God.  Obey God.

It’s not multiple choice.  It’s not mix ’n’ match.  It’s not pick and choose.

Through the Bible, June 14

Reading: No scheduled reading

Thoughts and Reflection: Today is the scheduled catch up day for the second week of June.  Take this opportunity, if needed, to get your reading up to date.  If you are all caught up, you may wish to think on the thoughts listed below based on this week’s readings.

  1. Daniel’s prophecies look toward the coming of God’s kingdom. He places the events in historical perspective even bridging the gap from the present (Nebuchadnezzar’s reign) to the time of the New Testament (Roman rule).  He even prophesies regarding events and individuals from during the 400 year time span between the Old and New Testaments (including Alexander the Great, his four generals who inherit his kingdom, etc.)
  2. The fact that New Testament Christians possessed as their Scriptures what we today would refer to as the Old Testament, they were quite familiar with not only the story that unfolds there, but also the prophecies, visions, and messages of the prophets. So, near the end of the first century, when the church began to be opposed by Rome and subject to persecution, God’s message of defeat to her enemies and ultimate victory over Satan was couched in a message based on symbols and figures.  These the Christians readily understood while the enemy Romans did not.  Thus the book of Revelation is replete with words, ideas, and images taken directly from sources like Daniel and Ezekiel.
  3. Zerubbabel led the first return of Jews to Jerusalem and Judah from Babylon. Later groups would be led by Ezra and Nehemiah.  So, just as there had been three primary deportations of Jews from Jerusalem into captivity, there will also be three primary returns from exile; a nice symmetry as we often find in Scripture.

Devotional Thought:

Whether You Do or Don’t, Do

When the people of Israel had the opportunity to return to their homeland from captivity after Babylon fell to Persia, some of them did, but not all.  Of those who did, the Bible says it was ones “whose spirit God had stirred to go up” (Ezra 1:5).  But it wasn’t everybody.  It wasn’t Daniel or Ezekiel, it wasn’t Ezra or Nehemiah—though both of these would eventually go.  Most of the Israelites stayed where they were.

The point is that not everyone is willing, able, or even should do everything.  And just because someone isn’t doing what I’m doing does not make them somehow “less than.”  What is more, even if God stirs my heart to do something, it doesn’t somehow make that more important than what you are doing, or necessarily that you should do what I’m doing.

But also notice this, of those who remained behind the Bible says they “encouraged them” (Ezra 1:6; NASB).  The ones who did not go, did what they could to help those who were going.

Isn’t that true of every endeavor, even in the Lord’s work?  Success depends on active, willing participants as well as strong encouragers and supporters.  Everyone does have a part to play.

So, it doesn’t matter if you do or you don’t, you still need to do!

Through the Bible, June 12

Reading: Ezra 1, 3

Summary: Babylon fell to the Persians.  Babylon had a policy of dealing with conquered people (such as Judah and others) to take them into captivity.  The Persians did not.  The inherited captives of Babylon were allowed to return home.  It all transpired just as God had said through Jeremiah.

The first group of Jews to return to Jerusalem was led by Zerubbabel.  Their primary intent was to rebuild the temple.  The completion of its foundation was cause for great rejoicing.

Devotional Thought:

Go Home

Out of sorts?  Lost?  Troubled?  Unhappy?  Dissatisfied? Hurting?

You probably haven’t always been, have you?  Can you remember a time when this wasn’t the case?

It’s just possible—very possible—that in order to get back where you were, you need to get back where you were.  What I mean is, you need to go home.  Maybe that is somehow true physically, but it is most certainly true spiritually.

Zerubbabel started just such a process when he led the first of the Jews from Persia back to Judah and Jerusalem (Ezra 1).  God’s plan and purpose were moving forward.  Eventually, His Son would come in the flesh, born in Bethlehem of Judea. But right now, what needed to happen is these people needed to come home.

Jesus’ famous parable of the prodigal son turned on the realization by that wayward boy that he needed to return home to his father (Luke 15:17-18).

Each of us—all of us—need to be at home with our Father.

It’s time to return.

My Delight is the Lord, September 30

Differing Responses

September 30, Friday: God’s Story (1)

Scripture Reading: Ezra 1:1-11; 3:1-13

A singular event can elicit from different people, very different responses. Such was the case of the temple’s foundation being laid under Zerubbabel’s leadership. Some shouted praise for their great joy, others mourned and wept. No doubt part of the reason was the event being viewed from different perspectives. Some had only known the captivity out of which they just came and this was a great, new beginning. No wonder they praised God. Others, by virtue of their age, could remember the utter devastation felt when the previous temple as destroyed. They knew the nation’s sin had brought God’s severe punishment. They had fallen so far and building out of this rubble stirred bitter memories. Here’s a great reminder; not everyone is going to see things as we do, nor we as they do.

Questions to Ponder:

  • Who is credited with stirring up Cyrus? (1:1)
  • What claim did Cyrus make? (1:2)
  • What was the first act of the returning group? (3:2)
  • For what was God extolled? (3:11)

The Joy of God’s Presence, September 22

September 22, Tuesday: Bible Story (1)

Scripture Reading—Ezra 1:1-11; 3:1-13

The people’s job was of highest priority. It had been prophesied by Jeremiah. The king of the mightiest nation dictated that it happen. Full support came from all the people. It would not be possible to attach any greater significance to the task that fell to Zerubbabel in leading the first Jews back to Jerusalem—thus ending the Babylonian captivity—to rebuild the temple. Something else, though, had to come first. Before they turned the first spade of dirt they worshipped God. They erected the altar and began the twice-daily burnt offerings, they kept the Feast of Booths, they reinstated the various offerings prescribed in the Law. In essence, they first wanted to get right with God before they even began the work. What an excellent approach to any worthwhile task in life.

Questions to Ponder:

  • Who had prophesied these events? (1:1)
  • Whom did Cyrus say God had charged to build His house? (1:2)
  • When did actual construction begin? (3:8)
  • How did the old men respond when the foundation was laid? (3:12)

June 21 Bible Reading: Catch Up Day

This is the scheduled day to catch up on your Bible reading for the third week of June  in case you may have fallen behind.  Though no Bible reading is planned for today, you may wish to consider the following thoughts drawn from this week’s reading.

1. It’s hard to imagine, considering the prominence and central role of the temple in Jerusalem for the Jewish people as we read in the New Testament, that it took such great effort to get it rebuilt during the days of Zerubbabel.  Many opposing forces and influences had to be overcome.  This serves as a fitting reminder that any worthwhile task will likely require persistence to overcome obstacles and opposition.  Don’t quit!

2. The book of Esther is the only book of the Bible in which God is not explicitly called by name.  Yet, in no other book of the Bible is God’s work on behalf of His people any more evident.

3. The Bible reminds us that it is in the power of God to exalt man or to bring him low.  The case of Haman stands in contrast to that of Joseph.  In a single day,  Joseph went from a prisoner to the third most powerful man in Egypt, while Haman, also in a single day, went from an exceedingly high and powerful position to being executed on his own gallows.  We simply do not know what a day may bring or what God might accomplish.

For today’s daily devotional CLICK HERE

For June week 3 Bible reading introduction CLICK HERE

For June’s Bible reading introduction CLICK HERE

June 15 Bible Reading: Haggai 1-2

Haggai, along with Zechariah, is named in Ezra 5:1 in connection with Zerubbabel’s efforts to rebuild the temple.  Prophets have been sent to deliver God’s message to nations, cities, and kings.  Haggai is sent specifically to leaders of the Jewish people attempting to re-occupy Jerusalem to remind them that it is time to rebuild the house of the Lord.

For today’s daily devotional CLICK HERE

For June week 3 Bible reading introduction CLICK HERE

For June’s Bible reading introduction CLICK HERE

June 14 Bible Reading: Catch Up Day

Today is the scheduled catch up day for the second week of June.  Take this opportunity, if needed, to get your reading up to date.  If you are all caught up, you may wish to think on the thoughts listed below based on this week’s readings.

1. Daniel’s prophecies look toward the coming of God’s kingdom.  He places the events in historical perspective even bridging the gap from the present (Nebuchadnezzar’s reign) to the time of the New Testament (Roman rule).  He even prophesies regarding events and individuals from during the 400 year time span between the Old and New Testaments (including Alexander the Great, his four generals who inherit his kingdom, etc.)

2. The fact that New Testament Christians possessed as their Scriptures what we today would refer to as the Old Testament, they were quite familiar with not only the story that unfolds there, but also the prophecies, visions, and messages of the prophets.  So, near the end of the first century, when the church began to be opposed by Rome and subject to persecution, God’s message of defeat to her enemies and ultimate victory over Satan was couched in a message based on symbols and figures.  These the Christians readily understood while the enemy Romans did not.  Thus the book of Revelation is replete with words, ideas, and images taken directly from sources like Daniel and Ezekiel.

3. Zerubbabel led the first return of Jews to Jerusalem and Judah.  Later groups will be led by Ezra and Nehemiah.  So, just as there had been three primary deportations of Jews from Jurssalem into captivity, there will also be three primary returns from exile.

For today’s daily devotional CLICK HERE

For June week 2 Bible reading introduction CLICK HERE

For June’s Bible reading introduction CLICK HERE

June 13 Bible Reading: Ezra 4-6

The work of the Jews returned to Jerusalem under the leadership of Zerubbabel was not without opposition.  As a matter of fact their efforts were legally stopped based on complaints sent back to the king of Persia.

Eventually, the original decree of king Cyrus was located and the work was allowed to resume.  But, the delay had lulled the people into inactivity and the efforts of the prophets Haggai and Zechariah (June 15-17 readings) were enlisted to motivate them to focus their efforts on God’s house.

For today’s daily devotional CLICK HERE

For June week 2 Bible reading introduction CLICK HERE

For June’s Bible reading introduction CLICK HERE

Go Home

Devotional Text: Ezra 1

Out of sorts?  Lost?  Troubled?  Unhappy?  Dissatisfied? Hurting?

You probably haven’t always been, have you?  Can you remember a time when this wasn’t the case?

It’s just possible—very possible—that in order to get back where you were, you need to get back where you were.  What I mean is, you need to go home.  Maybe that is somehow true physically, but it is most certainly true spiritually.

Zerubbabel started just such a process when he led the first of the Jews from Persia back to Judah and Jerusalem (Ezra 1).  God’s plan and purpose were moving forward.  Eventually His Son would come in the flesh, born in Bethlehem of Judea. But right now, what needed to happen is these people needed to come home.

Jesus’ famous parable of the prodigal son turned on the realization by that wayward boy that he needed to return home to his father (Luke 15:17-18).

Each of us—all of us—need to be at home with our Father.

It’s time to return.

–David Deffenbaugh

For today’s Bible reading introduction CLICK HERE