Saturday, January 14, 2017

Ezra 5

Today's reading in our daily plan is Ezra 5. Take a moment to pray, asking God to speak to you from this passage. Then read, using the following notes and questions to help you get everything out of the passage.

SAY WHAT? (What is the passage saying?)
  • "Haggai the prophet ... prophesied to the Jews" (verse 1) - Beginning in August, 520 B.C. until December, Haggai gave a series of messages to inspire the Jews to continue the work of building the temple (see the book of Haggai, chapters 1 and 2. Two months in, another "prophet" (spokesperson for God, kind of like a preacher), Zechariah, joined him (see Zechariah 1:1).
  • Some (non-Jewish) government officials (verses 3-4) from nearby places question the Jews, trying to discourage them and stop their work.
  • The Jews were oppressed by outside forces, and probably feeling discouraged, but God was watching (verse 5) and guiding.
  • The government officials send a letter to the King, trying to discover if the Jews had permission to rebuild the temple, and ultimately hoping to stop their work (verse 7 and following).
  • In the letter they share the Jews defense of their work (verse 11 and following). The Jews explain the events that have led up to the rebuilding of the temple, and appeal to God (verse 11).
SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)
  • When God's people were discouraged, God sent two prophets (Haggai and Zechariah) to encourage them. If we're open to it, and keeping our eyes open to it, God will often send someone to give us hope and direct our attention back to Him when we need it.
  • When you're in a challenging situation and dealing with non-believers, it's tempting to not acknowledge your faith in God, but we see the Jews here proclaiming and appealing to their faith in God (verse 11). We need to have a similar boldness about our faith. As the Bible says in Romans 1;16, "For I am not ashamed of this Good News about Christ. It is the power of God at work, saving everyone who believes."
NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
  • When have you had someone encourage you when your faith was low? Did you thank God for sending that person? And how could you put yourself in a position where you have more encouragers in your life? If you're not in a Verve group - that is definitely one way! A new semester of Verve Groups are starting in February - join one!
  • What could help you to not be ashamed but instead to have a (not obnoxious) confidence about God and your faith in Him?