Study God's Word to know Him better

Archive for June, 2011

Ezra 1 continued

Ezra 1 is all about the way that God went ahead of His people and prepared all they would need to do His will. He wanted the temple in Jerusalem rebuilt. He spoke and put the world in place and He could have rebuilt the temple that way. What I see here is God’s plan for His people included their participation. The temple was His dwelling place with them on earth in the Old Testament. He had given them direction on how it was to be built down to the numbers of threads and tassels in the priest’s garments. In this return and rebuilding we get to see some of the background and prep work He did in allowing them the privilege to be a part of it all.

Verse 5 shows us God at work again as He moves in the hearts of the family heads of Judah and Benjamin and the priests and Levites. Ok. I really need to stop and take a look at what this word moved was in the original text.

The word in the NAS version (easier for me to do word studies in) is stirred for moved in the NIV. The word in the Hebrew was ′uwr. This word is used for the following:

Arise, arouse, arouse or awaken, aroused, arouses, awake, awaken, awakened, awakens, awakes, exulted, lifted, raise, rouse, rouse yourself, roused, stir, stirred, stirs, swung

In our Ezra passages in verse 1 and verse 5 the word stirred is used for the work the Lord did in Cyrus’ heart and the hearts of the family heads and priests. What does this tells me about God? He interacts with people by stirring, arousing, awakening, lifting their hearts to do His will. This amazing God who could use any method to have His will carried out chooses to stir our hearts. He chooses to deal with our very core, where He resides when we allow Him to. He stirs us to want what He wants. He awakens us to His will.

Have you felt God stirring your heart lately? What is it you think He might be moving you to do? We know He has a good plan for our lives when we belong to Him. What might the next thing be He is stirring you to do as part of His will and plan for your life? I would love to hear about it. May God stir us all to be who He has planned as we grow in knowing Him through this study of His Word in Ezra. God Bless you and yours!


Ezra 1:2

Cyrus the king of Persia was a pagan God and in verse 2 he is quoted in regards to God interacting with him.  A note in my Quest Study Bible suggests he responded due to his wanting to allow other religions to rebuild their temples for political purposes and he may have thought he would win favor with the God he called “the God of Heaven.” It says he served the god, Marduk. The one true God interacted with him, regardless of his motives or theology, to bring about His will for His people.

Verse 2-“The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth and he has appointed me to build a temple for him at  Jerusalem in Judah.” Does this amaze you as much as it does me about who our God is? This pagan king is aware that God gave him his kingdoms and he wanted him to have the temple in Jerusalem built. We know that God is in control of everyone and everything on this earth but to have this pagan king know that makes me ask so many questions such as:

  • How did God interact with Cyrus?
  • How could this king interact and know that God had blessed him so and yet still not worship Him as the one true God? I guess it continues to happen in lots of lives today. That is very sad to me!
  • Was this part of Cyrus’ opportunity to know God personally and did he miss it?
  • When God moved Cyrus’ heart first was it just part of the going ahead He does in our lives to prepare for the next step in our lives?
  • What can I learn about who God is from this part of Ezra?

One of the things I learn is that I have an amazing God whose love is beyond compare and He is able to do anything! He loved His people and never gave up on them. He does the same today! They had been in exile for 128 years between the Fall of Jerusalem and this second return of exiles to Jerusalem in Ezra’s time. Though they had sinned against God He never gave up on them! He went ahead of His people and prepared the way by moving the heart of a pagan king. Before He interacted with them and moved their hearts He had made a way for them.

I am so very grateful that God loves me that way! I am grateful that even when I sin and blow it He has made a way for me to return and be forgiven and do what He has next for me. That way is my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ’s death for me on that cross. How big is that love? I can’t even comprehend it. This morning it just brings me to tears and I am overwhelmed beyond belief. After all these years with my Lord it still amazes and touches me to the deepest parts of me. Do you know that love? I surely pray you do. If you don’t please let me know or ask someone you know about it. I know God will have prepared ahead for you as He did His people in Ezra’s day. There will be someone you know who knows Him as Savior. If not then maybe this little blog is it and that is why you are here. I would love to share if you have any questions. Most importantly, just get on your knees and talk to God. He is just waiting for you! Love!

Ezra 1

I am so excited to begin this journey with you! We will be going through the book of Ezra at whatever pace God leads us. I am not in a hurry and I don’t want to miss anything God has for us to learn about who He is in it. I so want to keep growing in knowing God and that is the only goal we have in this study. We are reading God’s Word to see what it says about Him. Let’s get going!!!

It is so interesting to me that God chose to move the heart of Cyrus, this pagan king of Persia, before He moved the hearts of His people. Verse 1 tells us that in order to fulfill the word of the Lord spoken to Jeremiah He moved the heart of king Cyrus. This tells me that God’s Word will be fulfilled and He uses not just His people but others to see that it is. I always think of God using those who belong to Him to do His work. Maybe I need to take Him out of the box I have Him in and realize that all belong to Him and are used by Him whether they acknowledge Him and know Him as their God or not. Have I somehow placed limitations on Him without really realizing it? Have I somehow felt He is looking for those who
belong to Him because He needs them to get His work accomplished? I need to really think about this. Somewhere as my knowledge of Him has developed I got the idea that if I didn’t live my life according to His plan something, some part of His will, wouldn’t happen. Could it be that He is bringing about His perfect plan for my life because His will will be done and He will use whomever and whatever it takes to accomplish that. Could the mentality that I somehow control it by my choices be that ages old sin way down deep that I want to be god of my life? I don’t want to believe it but is it my sin that thinks somehow I am in control instead of God?

Oh, dear Lord, please forgive me but in the struggle of trying to trust you fully in recent events in my life and my continuing to try to figure out how to fix it or how you should fix it and taking responsibility for things that are not mine but yours I feel this could be truth in my life. The one thing I want as I study your Word is that the Holy Spirit guide me to the truth of who you are and who I am in you. Forgive my sin Lord. Cleanse me through the blood of Jesus my Lord and Savior. Fill me with your Holy Spirit to overflowing that you may be glorified in my life.

I trust that as you study this book of Ezra God will reveal Himself fully and clearly to you! What did He reveal to you in this first verse? I know He has something special just for you. I want to hear about it! Much love! God bless you and yours!

Ezra 9 & 10 What a sad ending to an exciting story

On my first read through of chapters 9 and 10 of Ezra I now realize why I wanted to camp on Ezra 8. After all of the wonderful things that happened to this returning remnant of God’s chosen people to rebuild the temple and all they saw God do from His speaking on their behalf to the hearts of the Kings of Persia to allow them to go and even gave them protection and provision along the way, chapters 9 and 10 are a very sad ending to the story. I know the story isn’t over until it’s over but my heart is so heavy as I read through these two last chapters. Partly because I really don’t get to see the end of the story and want it wrapped up nice and neat. Maybe it is because God’s response is only seen in the third return of the remnant in Nehemiah. I know what God’s awesome response ultimately was. He sent His only begotten Son to die on that cross for the sins of all. That would include the disgraced remnant we read about in Ezra 9 & 10.

Today since this is only our read through and not our deeper study I am only going to touch on a couple of things that hit me on this time through about my God. Please let me know what you see here as I know God is speaking to your heart as you read through it too.

It is sad that after so much victory on the journey and God’s intervention in allowing them to rebuild the temple the people choose to turn their backs on Him and disobey the rules He had given them for living. If the truth be known the reason these last two chapters make me so sad is it hits too close to home. Chapter 9 verse 5-9 is a great picture of what we should do when we have sinned. Ezra takes responsibility. We see him fall on his knees and spread out his hands to the Lord in a prayer of confession. We see Ezra who in the last few chapters had talked about God’s gracious hand being upon him cry out in agony at the sins of the people. He was weeping and throwing himself down and crying out to God. It has been a long time since I have cried out to the Lord confessing my sin and maybe I have never done it like Ezra. That sure doesn’t mean I shouldn’t have. I have plenty to confess on a daily basis. I am afraid I just take for granted God’s grace and forgiveness.

Chapter 10 ends with lists of names again. This time these are the people who sinned against God and would pay dire consequences of losing wives and children in their sin. What I see about God here since we don’t see anything about His response to Ezra is that my sin is very personal to God. Saten is surely calling my sin out and attaching it to my name just as personally as he was with the remnant listed here in chapter 10. I am so grateful to my loving God that with the whole Bible I get to know the answer to what God’s response was to Ezra and these sinners. Jesus Christ His only begotten Son that He sent to the cross to die for our sins! As always the fact that He died for my sin and all other people’s sins from the beginning of time gives hope to this sad ending to the book of Ezra.

We have had some tidbits so let’s go back now to Ezra chapter 1 and begin to look a little deeper as we go through it to learn what we can about who our God is. As always, our goal is to grow in knowing God. I pray you will join me in this pursuit! I would love to learn what God says to you as we study together. Blessings!

Ezra 8 – more great things!

I know! You are saying, “What is she doing?” I know we are just doing the preliminary reading through of Ezra but I just can’t help but share more of this rich chapter of this amazing book! I love God’s Word and the way it speaks to us! Be patient with me. This may feel a little like I am snatching things out of the middle and I am. As long as we keep it in the context of what is before and ahead we will be alright.

I talked last about how Ezra was ashamed to ask the king for protection because he had bragged that his God’s gracious hand was upon anyone who looked to Him. Verse 23 ended that section with, “So we fasted and petitioned our God about this, and He answered our prayer.” So we know his prayer was about protection on the road from enemies. He had wanted to ask the king for soldiers and horsemen for that protection but instead he asked God for it. Then he calmly says, “and He answered our prayer.” When you read on in verses 24-32 you see how great our God is! They were carrying a ton of stuff that enemies couldn’t miss and would certainly want. When I said a ton I meant that literally. In vers 26 where it says 650 talents of silver it was about 25 tons according to a note in my Bible. The 100 talents of silver articles was about 3 3/4 tons. The 100 talents of gold was the same. They had over 30 tons of just these items for the temple that had been dispersed between the various 12 leading priests. It is really hard for me to even comprehend that trip for them. How did they do it? I am amazed!

Verse 31 and 32 finish the story with, “On the twelfth day of the first month we set out from the Ahava Canal to go to Jerusalem. The hand of our God was on us, and He protected us from enemies and bandits along the way. So we arrived in Jerusalem, where we rested three days.” Verse 34 tells us everything was accounted for by number and weight, and the entire weight recorded at that time.

Do you think this was an easy trip? I don’t think so. So many pieces of the story are missing but one thing is for sure. God didn’t remove the bandits and the enemies. They were there or Ezra wouldn’t have said God protected them from them. Don’t you think he would have said and we had a smooth trip with not one bandit or enemy to encounter. No I believe this was an exciting, frightening at times trip with encounters along the way that had them on their knees in prayer. What is the bottom line and the quick story giving the most important details? “The hand of our God was on us, and He protected us from enemies and bandits along the way. So we arrived in Jerusalem, where we rested three days.”

My precious friends, I promise to move on to Ezra 9 after taking some time as they did in verses 33-36 to thank my God and offer praises for His mighty and powerful hand of protection, provision and love for me and all I love. I love what I am learning about Him from the book of Ezra. He may not take away my enemies or the bandits that might want something I have, but I know He will protect! So glad you stopped by today. I hope you will camp a bit and study with me. I would love to hear what God gives you from this wonderful book of Ezra! Have a blessed day and never stop growing in knowing God!

A peek at Ezra 8

I am still doing the once through of the book of Ezra but sometimes I just get stuck and want to stay a bit and that is what Ezra 8 has done for me.  The beginning verses of Ezra 8 has another list of names. These are the people who went with Ezra to Jerusalem. It really spoke to my heart again that God is so very personal. He doesn’t just give numbers but names. Do I really care who these people from so very long ago were? Yes!! Because it says to me that if God cared enough to keep track of their names through all the ages He is keeping track of mine and those I love too!!! Besides, I may some day sit next to Shemaiah the descendant of Adonikam in eternity (chapter 8:13) if he knew God.

When I got to verse 22 I got stuck on the relationship that Ezra had with God. I felt in some ways that Ezra had tested God but God knew his heart. He is ashamed to ask the king for protection from enemies on their trip because he had told the king that the gracious hand of his God was on everyone who looked to Him but His great anger is against all who forsake Him. Wow! Would I be afraid to ask people to help because I had bragged so much that my God would take care of me? I wish that were true! Ezra turns to God for his protection because he had made claims about him that obviously he wasn’t too sure of. If he had been he wouldn’t have said he was ashamed to ask the king. I think Ezra struggled with trust like I do from time to time. May I boast of my God’s gracious hand to the point that I too will only turn to Him for all I need.

Have a blessed day! I would love to have you join me on this journey and hear what God speaks to your heart. I will be continuing on in my once (or several times) through this awesome book of Ezra and see what else I can learn about my awesome God. God Bless!