Nov 21, 2022
Yesterday we heard how the returned exiles responded to Ezra’s shock and demonstration of his sorrow, and his prayer of repentance. The book ended with the names of those who were found guilty of forbidden marriages. Note that these are not just names of the guilty, but names of those who repented and sacrificed to God. They are the names of the forgiven. In some ways— and not all, this shows the kind of seriousness with which church discipline spoken of in the New Testament should be conducted. (Matthew 18, 1 & 2 Corinthians)
As I said just a few days ago, the book of Nehemiah was— according to Jewish tradition, written by Ezra, and this book was at some early time bundled with the book of Ezra. Nehemiah and Ezra had to have been close friends. If Ezra wrote the book of Nehemiah, he did so as one writing Nehemiah’s testimony, since Nehemiah speaks in the first person throughout the book. Nehemiah is a wonderful example of a man living in prayerful trust of the Lord, and a man willing to take on huge tasks because of his full belief in God. He is a wonderful example of a leader who does not take advantage of his position to enrich himself, but works for the good of all the people.
Yesterday, amid the statements of judgment for Assyria in chapter 33, we still heard amazing prophecies in Isaiah. Here are two of them:
Is. 33:17 GNT Once again you will see a king ruling in splendor over a land that stretches in all directions.
24 No one who lives in our land will ever again complain of being sick, and all sins will be forgiven.
Here is a promise to claim from the first chapter of Philippians:
Php. 1:6 GNT And so I am sure that God, who began this good work in you, will carry it on until it is finished on the Day of Christ Jesus.
Php. 2:7 [PET But He humbled Himself and left everything.
Then He took the lowliest status of a servant to serve us,
and came to this world as a normal human being.
And as a human being,//GNT Instead of this, of his own free will he gave up all he had, and took the nature of a servant. He became like a human being and appeared in human likeness.]
17 [PET You fully believe in Him, and so you sacrifice your lives to serve God. So even if I have to give my own blood along with your sacrifice— meaning if I’m killed in the fight to maintain our belief in Christ,* I’ll still rejoice. And I want you also to feel that joy along with me.//GNT Perhaps my life's blood is to be poured out like an offering on the sacrifice that your faith offers to God. If that is so, I am glad and share my joy with you all.]
18 [PET Yes, join in being happy with me and be full of joy with me!// GNT In the same way, you too must be glad and share your joy with me.]