Study the Bible in Two Years

Monday – Ezra 9-10

1.  What did Ezra find out about the exiles who had returned earlier, that got him very upset? See 9:2.    Ezra knew the Law very well, and had Deuteronomy 7:1-6 in mind, where God had forbidden intermarriage.  Why does the Lord say “No” to this?  Old Testament laws no longer apply directly to us, but what wisdom do you see in avoiding marriage with those who are not Christian?

2.  Ezra had not been guilty of this particular sin.  Yet as he prays to the Lord for mercy and forgiveness, it is striking that throughout the prayer he includes himself.  It is all about confessing “our” sins.  As a pastor today leads his people in confession, what is so important for him to do?  Note the last sentence of his prayer as it applies to all of us.

3.  After confessing sins, it is also right to have fruits of repentance.  The people needed to correct the situation.  The only solution that would stop the problem in the future is what? See 10:3. You might feel that this doesn’t seem to be fair to the wives and children. The people also knew that this would rip apart some families, which made the problem so difficult to handle.  We are not told how they provided for those who were sent away.  What sin may have occurred in your family that is much more difficult to handle than simply saying ‘I’m sorry’?

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Published in: on September 23, 2013 at 2:01 am  Leave a Comment  
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Study the Bible in Two Years

Saturday – Ezra 7-8

1.  With chapter 7, we finally get to the time of Ezra, 458 BC under the Persian King Artaxerxes.  Ezra stresses his lineage, and also his qualifications – see 7:6,10,11. Is Ezra boasting?  Then recall that the first group of exiles had been inJerusalemfor 50 years. Now this young upstart Ezra shows up fromPersia(and his family wasn’t brave enough to come the first time) and starts to tell them what they need to do.  Why should they listen to him?  Ezra needed to show them why.  Why is it so important for our pastors and teachers today to be able to say “this is what the Lord says”?

2. The time for the journey drew near.  Ezra realized that they didn’t have enough Levites, who are the people to assist the priests in the temple.  It was time to recruit more!!  “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few.”  How you do apply this passage from the Psalms to the Levites and to yourself?   “I’d rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than to dwell in the tents of the wicked.”  Psalm 84:10.

3.  It was earthly wisdom to take along a military escort toJerusalem, especially when you think of the amount of precious metals they were taking with them.  Ezra decided not to do that.  Why?  See 8:22.  How can you show others around you that your trust is in the Lord?

Published in: on September 21, 2013 at 2:57 am  Leave a Comment  
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Study the Bible in Two Years

Friday – Ezra 5-6

1.  Note how Ezra mentions Haggai and Zechariah, who were with the first group of returned exiles.  We’ll be studying their books very soon.  Tatteni, the Persian governor, ruled over both the Jews and the Samaritans in the Persian province called “Trans-Euphrates.”  Would you say that he was in favor of the Jewish resettlement or opposed?  What does this tell you about how important it is to maintain good relationships with government entities?  Besides getting building projects done, what else happens when we treat officials well?

2.  Ezra tells us that “the eye of their God was watching over the elders of the Jews” (verse 5). What encouragement does this give God’s people today whenever we face the difficulties of living in the world?  How about those times when it seems that God must not know what’s going on in my life?

3.  Once the old record was found, King Darius was extremely favorable toward the rebuilding of the temple.  He went even farther than King Cyrus:  where was the money to come from for building the temple?  Darius understood that this would all be to his advantage.  How?  See 6:10.  Was Darius a believer in the true God?  It’s impossible to tell, because people at that time believed in the existence of many gods, usually by country or territory.  If only the rulers and the leaders of countries today would realize that it is to their advantage to favor the true God and his people.  (This is happening in China today).

Published in: on September 20, 2013 at 2:56 am  Leave a Comment  
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Study the Bible in Two Years

Thursday – Ezra 3-4

1.  What is the first thing that the returning exiles rebuilt?  What is the next thing they rebuilt, six months later?  There were two opposite reactions to this: great joy, and also great weeping that their new temple would never be as grand as the old one.  When you are faced with a task that seems almost impossible to complete, what happens?  How do you overcome that reaction?

2.  At the start of chapter 4, we read that Zerubbabel, the Jewish leader and the other leaders turned down the offer of help from the Samaritans.  They were mostly foreigners who had been resettled there more than a century earlier. It is important to know that they said that they worshipped the true God, but this was far from the truth.   When their offer of help was turned down, what did they do?  What kind of opposition might Christians today receive when they try to build a house of God?  In our country?   In other countries?  .

3.  The rest of chapter 4 will be very confusing unless you understand that Ezra jumps to his own time, in the years of Persian king Artaxerxes.  His “jump ahead” starts in 4:6 when he mentions Xerxes and the next Persian King, Artaxerxes.   He quotes a letter that he has in his possession (from the 450’s BC)  to show that this was the kind of opposition that happened (in the 530’s BC) when they first tried to rebuild the temple. Ezra returns to the story he is relating in 4:24:  Thus (in the same way) 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. All the work for the temple ground to a halt for 16 years, until the 2nd year of Darius, 520 BC.  What kinds of opposition do we face to the Christian message today, that is the same as it was for our great-grandparents?

Published in: on September 19, 2013 at 2:54 am  Leave a Comment  
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Study the Bible in Two Years

 Wednesday – Ezra 1-2

1.   Ezra the priest begins his book where he left off in 2 Chronicles.   The first six chapters of his book happened before he was born, about 80 years before he returned toJerusalem. In 538 BC, King Cyrus the Persian defeatedBabylonand gave his decree about the Jewish captives.  What were they free to do?  1:3.  Ezra was descended from believers who chose not to go back. What were they encouraged to do? 1:4

2.  Sometimes we imagine that all the Jews were eagerly awaiting the day they could return to their homeland. Put yourself in the place of one of the Jews. After 50 years sinceJerusalemwas destroyed, there are just a few old men who remember the city and its temple.  You realize thatIsraelis where you belong, but there is nothing there but ruined cities. You will have to start all over again to rebuild everything.  InBabylon, you might have a job and a decent home.  What would have been going on in your mind and heart when you heard Cyrus’ decree?  Would you go?

3.  Just as in 2 Chronicles, Ezra is extremely detailed about people and their genealogies. It is amazing that he knows all the numbers of people, since he lived and worked three generations after the people listed in chapter 2.  Where did Ezra get this information?  Glance over the lists of names and numbers, but don’t spend a lot of time on it.  How many people returned toIsraelto resettle?  Add the numbers in 2:64,65.

Note:  The “Urim and Thummim” mentioned in 2:63 are two mysterious objects which were carried in the high priest’s garment. Through them God communicated his will. They usually gave a “yes” or “no” answer from the Lord.  We really don’t know what they were or how they worked.

Published in: on September 18, 2013 at 2:52 am  Leave a Comment  
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