There is no lull in the story as we move from the story of Esther to the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem. This week, we take a look at the ministries of Ezra, Nehemiah and Malachi. This week concludes our time in the Old Testament…things are about to change…dramatically.
Chapter 21 :: Rebuilding the Walls
As I read through the chapter this morning here are some of the things that ran through my brain:
- If Artaxerxes is the new King of Persia, who is his mother? He has a very favorable view of the God of the Israelites, so it feels like Esther may have made an impression on him, but I don’t know if she is his mother or not.
- I noticed that Ezra is a descendant of Aaron. You remember Aaron, right? Moses’s brother, the Levite. He set everything up for worshiping God in the first tabernacle – the one they carried from camp to camp in the desert.
- I like that Phinehas is mentioned too. I like Phinehas. See Numbers 25 for his story.
- I really liked the interaction between King Artexerxes and Ezra. There appears to be respect from both sides and I think that is cool.
- Ezra completes the temple, but the city of Jerusalem is unprotected. The walls are still in ruins and leaves everything susceptible to pillage. God charges Nehemiah with the rebuilding of the walls.
- I remembered all of the “Rebuilding the Walls” messages throughout my life – encouragement during building campaigns, ways when pastors wanted to get more money from people to build.
- I also remembered the leadership lessons learned from Nehemiah – the man got things done.
- I noticed that Nehemiah seems to be the first since Joshua to open up the Law and read/explain it to the people. I wonder how much it was like what I get to do on Sundays. Seems like they had a “revival” going on with the daily gathering.
- I like seeing Malachi’s name because I know that is the last book in the Old Testament. I believe the whole bible is the word of God and has the right to command my belief and my action, but I love the New Testament. It’s what we’ve been waiting for. Feeling the lull and longing for a better story than what we’ve been reading for me, allows me to peek into the lives of the Israelites who spent centuries waiting…without knowing the ending like I do. That must have sucked.
- Malachi pulls no punches, but doesn’t leave anyone hopeless. I am caught by the way the Israelites were called out by him.
- The showed contempt for the name of God by offering second-rate offerings – not giving their best. God wants my best, not my leftovers, but I still cut corners and try to offer leftovers.
- They robbed God by holding back their tithes. They were required to give 1/10th of their income to the temple storehouse so those with need could get fed. This reminded me of pastors who want us to give to the storehouse, only to discover that the “storehouse” is really their 10,000 sq. ft. mansion with a private jet parked at a local airport. Not sure this is really what Malachi was hoping for here.
- They spoke arrogantly against the Lord by saying things like, “What good does it do me to serve God faithfully when I can’t make ends meet, when those who don’t even try seem to have it made?” Ouch…been there, done that.
- He leaves them with a bit of hope that a day is coming when God will change everything…then silence…for 400 years…nothing…nada…zippo…ssshhhh.