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EzraNotes: On To Haggai!

Posted by Lorraine Serra on October 16, 2010 at 7:46 AM

Good day to all.  I just want to praise God for the tender hearts of my sisters.  I pray everyone who stops by this blog finds hope, feels blessed and encouraged.  Thank you, Jesus!    Uniquely gifted are we.  What a joy to be able to share what God has taught us.


For I truly believe what the Bible teaches,  that though we are "studying", "researching", "learning" from Biblical accounts, history, scholars, commentaries, Bible footnotes, etc, the Real Teacher is the Holy Spirit revealing the truth of God's Word and His involvement  in our lives.  James 1:5 invites us to ask for wisdom and the Holy Spirit will give it liberally.  In the gospel of John 16:13, Jesus promised the Spirit would lead us into all truth.


Never stop asking!  He will deliver!


Nothing speaks louder of God's presence and power than sharing our personal experience of Him!  Nobody can say "That's not true."   You can declare with confidence, "My God is at work in my life! See what He has done!"    Halleluia!


Now, some final comments on Ezra.  There is wisdom we need to take note of here


.

In my research, I found that some Jews had evidently escaped capture  to Babylon,some were left to tend the fields and herds.  At any rate,  those who remained were, what one commentary called, "relics of the 10 tribes of Israel."   Ouch!  These who stayed behind married into gentile groups of pagan people "in the land" of Trans-Euphrates and Samaria.


Some of them remembered the days of old, worshiping in the beautiful Solomon's Temple.  But, they were now rejected by the returning Jews as impure and defiled, having no part of the nation Israel, its worship, and its rebuilding project.


 Why?  Marriage to non-Jews was strictly forbidden by the Mosaic Law.  By doing so,  they were lumped into the people group known as Samaritans.  This was a term for mixed-race of people, brought to the region from hither and yon by Assyrian conquerors of old.  They practiced a patchwork quilt of religion.   You can read more in 2 Kings 17:33.


Sadly, the pagan worship dominated worship of Yahweh God.  It was these people of the land who began to mock the Jews and stir up trouble. (Ezra 4) when they were refused participation.  I'm not sure they really wanted to help or, rather hinder the project out of revenge!

 

God's eye was on His people once again, as He raised up the prophets Haggai and Zechariah to encourage the people to carry on in their work.  In the end, after 7 years, the temple was finished and dedicated.


In the final chapters of Ezra, we learn that Ezra himself, a scribe, a diligent student of the Law, the Books of Moses, leads the second group of Jews home to Jerusalem.  This happens about 57 years after King Cyrus first sent the Jews back to Jerusalem with Zerubbabel leading.


One commentator mentioned that we should bless God for raising up this amazing scribe who assembled the copies of the scriptures which comprise most of the Old Testament, the poetry and history of Israel, and restored the Law and ritual. Imagine!  The Old Testament might have been lost in Babylon!


He was a priest and a scribe, precious in the eyes of God who showered him with favor to do the work he was given.

Ezra was a  man of deep piety, zeal and reverence for God, carefully recovering the sacred writings. 


It is heartbreaking to read that hundreds of years later, scribes are grouped with Pharisees as the enemies of Christ; they knew well the letter of the law, but did not recognize the Spirit of Life and Love.  Praise Christ for grace!



Chapter 7 has Ezra revealing his lineage and qualifications for leading the second group of exiles out of Babylon and home to Jerusalem.    The majority of people, I learned, and the former princes of Israel, stayed on in Babylon where they were happy and prospering.   Ezra had the responsibility to minister to a meager remnant of the population, re-establishing the Law and rituals of their faith.


Well, as usual, this post is getting lengthy.  Let’s end looking at Chapter 9.


It is difficult for us in 2010 to grasp the deep sorrow, the cry of anguish in Ezra 9.


Oh, that I would humble myself before my God on my own behalf, as Ezra does on behalf of his people!  Such honesty, transparency, admission of sin.  We could all benefit from such authenticity before our authentic God!!  Such remorse and contrition. We should all go read it again!!

 

The account goes on in the final chapter 10 to reveal a shocking remedy to the problem of inter-marriage

with gentiles.  Ezra and the elders come to a painful decision: it will be necessary to remove the Gentile wives from the community in order to comply with God’s laws and preserve the Jewish people.  Yikes!  Really?  Yes, really.


Assignment:     I ask you to please read with careful thought this 9th Chapter, and the 10th, and share what the Spirit reveals to you about this.

 

Can you imagine making this oath to divorce your foreign spouse, and sacrifice your life together, your family, in order to be pure again before God ?

 

Could there be another way?

 

 

How does 1  Cor 7:12 enlighten us about this subject for us today?




Holy Spirit, please teach us well, that we may all abide in Your truth and grow in understanding the ways of our Holy, Righteous, Perfect God!  Amen.



Blessing to all.

Love and prayers,


Lorraine

 

 

 

 

 











Categories: HAGGAI STUDY

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4 Comments

Reply Lorraine Serra
7:46 AM on October 25, 2010 
Sweet Sister, Linda!
Welcome back, and Halleluia! My heart is overjoyed and tears are streaming down my face as I read your testimony of God's Spirit at work in your husband's life! There is always hope! You are an inspiration to those who have been longing for a believing husband.

I'll be praying for you both, that God's word will act quickly as the two-edged sword to prepare his heart for Jesus' Lordship! God bless you!

BTW, as you stated, the foreign wives were sent out of the community but cared for, just as in Hagar's case. One commentator I read suggested that the children remained to be brought up in the faith. Any way you look at it, this was a painful course of events!
Reply Linda
6:37 PM on October 22, 2010 
I've been away but glad I'm not too late to participate in this discussion. In 10v8 I thought it was interesting that they were given an option whether or not they wanted to participate. If they didn?t, their blatant idolatry would continue. God gave them a choice. Those who participated showed their commitment to God. But they originally took foreign wives even though they knew it was against God?s law. Though the command was difficult, God had a purpose and He had a plan for Israel. But, because of His kindness, He must have made provisions for those that were rejected (like Hagar, etc). We couldn?t imagine doing this in our culture.
I love 1 Cor 7:12. That?s been my life for the last 20 years. It?s a challenge to be married to an unbeliever. Over the last 3 years I am seeing fruit. Since we moved 3 years ago, he started going to church to me. Every step of the way, allowing him to lead our family. God is changing him right before my eyes?.for His purposes, not for my comfort level. I can?t explain the joy of having him beside me, listening to our pastor as he teaches both of us together. And then discussing the sermons afterward. Heaven on earth!! Thank you Lord
Reply Lorraine Serra
11:56 AM on October 22, 2010 
Hey Val
Your weed analogy is so awesome. It reminds me that I can praise God for salvation and forgiveness, and live without condemnation, but I still need to look deep for the root of my sin and deal with it!

As you so aptly described it, the "Root" of my disobedience is where I need to ask Holy Spirit revelation.......authenticity......to take ownership and true confession before I can eradicate that root from my life. Easier said than done. But, He gives grace abundantly, and always. Praise God!
Reply Val
9:59 PM on October 21, 2010 
Being a product of a failed and abusive marriage, I know the devastation that divorce brings. I have said before and will say again that in divorce THERE ARE NOOOOO WINNERS.

With that said, my sin did not begin with divorce it began well before that. I had sex outside of marriage (at 17), ended up pregnant, and then married a man that I knew I shouldn't be with. At 17, I thought I had no other options; I felt trapped. I now know that God was all I needed but I kept looking for a way to fix what I had messed up. He was my way out but I didn't see or take it!

The sin is not always the "weed" that we see. In gardening, we know that you must pull a weed by it's root. If even a fragment is left behind, the root will grow into an overwhelming weed or army of weeds again.

I believe that God may be calling us, through this passage, to look at the origin of our sin. I must look deep within to find the "root" of my disobedience.

The fall of the family system didn't begin with divorce, in my mind anyway. It begin with marriages, sex, and selfishness of people that were/are not focused on God and what He wants for our lives. God hates divorce and I understand why! Is he, maybe, calling us too look back or maybe the opposite and look forward before we start...(am I making sense)

Certainly in 1Corinthians God makes it clear that when we make a covenant, we are to stand by that covnant. We cannot know how he will bless us and/or our spouse for doing so.

God is so merciful and gracious to give us these examples to prepare us for life's choices. If only I would listen to him more often than learning the hard way. Thankfully, he loves me despite myself :)