The Jews Overcome Their Adversaries

Esther 9:1-32 and 10:1-3

I have been off blogging for a few days as we round of our look into the history books of the bible. I was already wondering what would be next after the study has been completed with the 10th chapter of the book of Esther. I have actually moved on to the book of Romans in the New Testament and completed it before remembering that I still have unfinished business with the last two chapters of Esther.

So today, as we near the end of the study, we recollect how God gave victory to the Jews over their arch enemy Haman, who wanted to have them all destroyed from the earth. However the day for executing the previous decree still came upon the Jews, but at the requests of Esther and Mordecai, they were allowed to defend themselves against their enemies.

So, what happens, instead of the Jews being destroyed, it was those who dare stood against them that were destroyed on this fateful day. No one could lay hands upon them as fear of them fell upon all the people. Mordecai became more prominent and his fame spread throughout all the provinces. The Jews killed five hundred men in the citadel, including Haman’s ten sons, and seventy five thousand in all were destroyed by the Jews throughout the land.

So Mordecai established that the Jews should celebrate the 14th and 15th days of the month of Adar yearly  as the days the Jews had rest from their enemies, and their sorrow turned to joy. What a turnaround! From doom and gloom to victory and glory. The feast of Purim was established from that time on to all generations of the Jews to acknowledge this victory.

Mordecai continued to advance in the kingdom, second only to the king.  He was well received by all his brethren as he continually sought their good and spoke peace to them.

So, we’ve come to the end of our study. What a journey! All praises to God for his help to develop this blog. I hope it has been of help to countless people and would continue to be useful through times to come, ages and generations. What is written is precious, for it could not be easily erased, and many to come would still be able to look through and learn. One encouragement I received was seeing that people from almost every nation have visited this website and benefited one way or the other, the count was 125 countries at my last check. This is indeed a witness to the ends of the earth as God wants us to take his message.

Let me leave you with a last thought as we end; no matter what is happening in this generation, no matter the developments, God is true, from ages to ages He remains the same. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. In Israel’s history he showed himself as God. Now He is God of all nations, having  reconciled many people to himself through Christ death. We will do well to believe Him, believe in His son’s death and resurrection for our salvation (see the “How to be born again link for more information”). We should honour God as God, as we also like his people Israel, write a history that would forever be remembered in eternity.

God bless you!

Olusola Adeyemo.

olusolaadeyemo@gmail.com

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Righting the Wrongs

Nehemiah 13:1-31

As we conclude the book of Nehemiah, today we read of efforts made to ensure that things were done aright.

Starting with the commandment seen in the book of Moses that the Ammonites and Moabites should not come into the congregation of God forever because of how they treated Israel while on their journey from Egypt, the people obeyed by separating themselves from all the mixed multitude.

Next was Nehemiah having to deal with Eliashib‘s actions. Eliashib was priest having oversight of the chamber of the house of God, but when Nehemiah was away on assignment, Eliashib prepared the chamber for Tobiah-one of Israel’s foremost enemies- to stay. This action grieved Nehemiah, and when he returned he threw out all of Tobiah’s belongings, and commanded the chambers to be cleansed.

Next agenda was to ensure on Nehemiah’s list was to ensure that the Levites portions were given them, as hitherto they have fled to the field. Nehemiah contended with the rulers to ensure that the people brought the tithes of their corn, new wine and oil into the treasuries.

Also, when Nehemiah saw that in Judah, some were treading wine presses and trading on the Sabbath, he contended with the nobles, reminding them that Israel’s previous transgressions brought about their exile. He then gave instructions to his servants to shut the gate just before Sabbath and stand to ensure no burden was brought through the gate on the Sabbath.

Finally, Nehemiah corrected those found to be marrying strangers. The children of these people could not even speak the Jewish language. Nehemiah cursed some of them, smote some of them, and made them swear that they would not give their sons or daughters in marriage to the strangers that caused even Solomon the great king to sin. He chased away the son of Joiada the priest, who doubled as son in law to Sanballat the Horonite.

So much passion, so much zeal, this parallels Jesus whipping the merchants in the temple. There indeed is what is called holy anger, which when expressed by hearts passionate for God aggressively seeks to right that which is in the wrong. If you are such passionate, then you could say with Nehemiah in conclusion that , ” remember me, O my God, for good”.

Some verses to remember

3: Now it came to pass, when they had heard the law, that they separated from Israel all the mixed multitude.

9: Then I commanded, and they cleansed the chambers: and thither brought I again the vessels of the house of God, with the meat offering and the frankincense.

22: And I commanded the Levites that they should cleanse themselves, and that they should come and keep the gates, to sanctify the Sabbath day. Remember me, O my God, concerning this also, and spare me according to the greatness of thy mercy.

30: Thus cleansed I them from all strangers, and appointed the wards of the priests and the Levites, every one in his business.

Priests and Levites.

 

Nehemiah 12:1-47

We continued to read of those who went up to Jerusalem today as mention was made of the Priests and Levites. The responsibilities of this group was also mentioned as Israel continued to rebuild and reestablish their life of worship in Jerusalem.

Later on, we read of the dedication of the wall of Jerusalem,  the Levites were sought out from where they lived and were brought to Jerusalem to celebrate joyfully the dedication with songs of thanksgiving and with the music of cymbals, harps and lyres. When the priests and Levites had purified themselves ceremonially, they purified the people, the gates and the wall of Jerusalem.

As we draw near to the end of the book of Nehemiah, we could see that much has indeed been done by way of restoration. The wall rebuilt, worship restored, dwellers settled in Jerusalem and other cities, all because a man with a passion and heart for God and his land took action.

What would you do for God? What would be said of you?

Some verses to remember

43: Also that day they offered great sacrifices, and rejoiced: for God had made them rejoice with great joy: the wives also and the children rejoiced: so that the joy of Jerusalem was heard even afar off.

45: And both the singers and the porters kept the ward of their God, and the ward of the purification, according to the commandment of Davidand of Solomon his son.

 

Dwellers in Jerusalem

 

Nehemiah 11:1-36

Today, we read of those who dwelt in Jerusalem after the rebuilding had been done.

First and foremost, the rulers of the people, and then the rest of the people cast lots, to bring one of every ten people to dwell in Jerusalem, and the other nine dwelt in other cities. So, the people blessed all the men that willingly offered themselves to dwell at Jerusalem.

The remainder of the chapter gave a list of those who decided to dwell in Jerusalem. Do not worry, I won’t be listing all the names here, but for those who want all the details, check the eleventh chapter.

Israel‘s rebuilding plan had a lot of parts to it, but finally their holy city could be dwelt in, as we gradually draw towards the end of the book of Nehemiah.

 

A Nation Repents

Nehemiah 9:1-38

Today, the people of Israel gathered together with fasting, separating themselves from all strangers. The gathering was to confess their sins and those  of their fathers in a show of genuine national repentance.

The day started with the reading of the book of the law of the Lord, and the other parts of the day the spent confessing their sins and worshiping God. With the Levitical leaders going through Israel‘s history to show how God had dealt with the fathers – starting from Abraham, to the miracles God did in Egypt, and in the desert with the giving of the law.

They also recounted how the fathers were unfaithful, making for themselves gods, causing great provocation. Despite these, God had been merciful to them, feeding them, and leading them, and preserving them in the wilderness. God also gave them lands to possess, giving them strong cities, but after eating to their fill, they became disobedient to God, and he delivered them into the hands of their enemies. However, when they cried out to Him, he sent them saviors to deliver them from their enemies.

Israel’s cycle of disobedience and deliverance from trouble went on and on until their exile to Babylon. Now that they had returned, they sought God’s face for mercy. They confessed their sins and those of their fathers, and they made a covenant to obey God’s laws.

Just like the Israelites, we all have a journey with God. Most times it is not a smooth run. Do we always come back to God in repentance and a willingness to obey him from our hearts. Make a commitment to God today, He is willing to help you to obey him.

The Watergate Gathering

Nehemiah 8:1-18

Today, we read of how the whole nation gathered to respond to the word of God. Israel was in a transition state having just come back from exile. So all the people gathered as one man to listen to the Law of God as read to them by  Ezra, the scribe.

Great reverence was giving to the reading of the word, as the people rose, bowed their heads, worshiped and say ‘Amen‘! It was not just about reading, we learn that the the reading was done distinctly, and the Levites caused the people to understand what was being read, giving sense and meaning. How many times do we just go through the motions of the things of God – prayers, worship, reading the bible – do we really seek meaning and understanding??

The people’s response to God was to weep and mourn, for they could see how far they have deviated from God’s law. Nehemiah and Ezra however encouraged them to rejoice for it was a holy day unto God. They people were charged to go their way to eat, drink and share with their neighbours. The people left rejoicing for they have understood the word of God declared unto them.

The feast was kept for seven days, and on the eight day, there was a solemn assembly.

Nehemiah Organizes The People

 

Nehemiah 7:1-73

After the walls of Jerusalem had been built, and the doors set, Nehemiah appointed porters, singers and Levites. He also gave responsibility to his brother – Hanani, and Hananiah – a man described as being faithful and fearing God above many – to take charge of Jerusalem. He gave them instructions on ensuring the safety and security of the city.

Nehemiah also saw that the city was large and great, but the people were few and the houses were not builded. So, God laid it in his heart to gather the nobles, the rulers and the people, according to their genealogy of those who came back from captivity. Everyone was named according to his city that came from Babylon with the leaders of Israel. We could see what Nehemiah was trying to do here – to ensure that the people were organized, and then they could each rebuild their homes and cities.

One thing is clear – leaders have vision, foresight, and are able to instruct and guide others into a better future. At times they do the thinking for the people, and the people respond by doing the acting and cooperating. Nehemiah had vision, and he was able to pass on the same to his people. He had credibility and could instruct others.

What type of leader are you?

Some verses to remember

4-5: Now the city was large and great: but the people were few therein, and the houses were not builded. And my God put into mine heart to gather together the nobles, and the rulers, and the people, that they might be reckoned by genealogy.

 

 

Building and Repairs

 

Nehemiah 3: 1-32

Today, the work that Nehemiah set out to do in Jerusalem began in earnest as the people rallied and started building. It all started with the priests, with Eliashib, the high priest and his brethren – they builded the sheep gate, sanctified it and set up its doors.

It is so amazing how different people took up different parts of the project, from building different parts and regions of the walls and gates, to repairing major parts of the city, including the temple and part of David‘s sepulcher. Great things happen when people collaborate together, and each person play his role to achieve the common goal, the work looks a lot easier, and progress would be made fast.

Of note however, was the comment made about the nobles of the Tekoites. We learnt that they did not put their necks to the work of their Lord. What a negative in the whole positive of the chapter. This shows that anything short of the best is not good enough for our God. These nobles probably were feeling too big to be too concerned about the project, they probably didn’t want to get their hand dirty, or wanted more time for pleasure rather than work. Whatever reason it was, their attitude was noted to the extent that it merited being written in Israel‘s history book.

What would be said of you when it comes to God’s work? Would you be commended for doing  your part, playing your role and doing your best? Or would it be said of you, that you did not put your neck to the Lord’s work?

Examine Yourself!

Some verses to remember

vs 1  Then Eliashib the high priest rose up with his brethren the priests, and they builded the sheep gate; they sanctified it, and set up the doors of it; even unto the tower of Meah they sanctified it, unto the tower of Hananeel.

5 And next unto them the Tekoites repaired; but their nobles put not their necks to the work of their Lord.

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National Repentance

 

Ezra 10:1-44

Leaders lead by example in order to achieve the right and lasting results. Yesterday we read the reaction of Ezra to the sins of the people in taking strange wives to themselves, despite Ezra not being the defaulter, he showed great sorrow and cried unto God on behalf of the whole nation.

Today, the whole nation responded, why wouldn’t they? Ezra showed what leaders are to do if they are to initiate repentance and change. He did the repenting first, and the people could not withstand seeing their leader distraught for their sins. So all the people came together, despite a very heavy downpour, they all stayed, and vowed to put away the strange wives in obedience to the laws and commandments of God, and to avert the anger of the Lord.

To conclude, we read that between the first day of the tenth month and the first day of the first month, and end had been made with all the men the men that had taken strange wives. The priests also offered rams for their tresspasses, it was indeed a national repentance initiated by a true leader – Ezra!

Some verses to remember

vs 3: Now therefore let us make a covenant with our God to put away all the wives, and such as are born of them, according to the counsel of my lord, and of those that tremble at the commandment of our God; and let it be done according to the law.

vs 19  And they gave their hands that they would put away their wives; and being guilty, they offered a ram of the flock for their trespass.

 

The People Who Returned

Ezra 8:1-36

We were given the names of the people that went up to Jerusalem with Ezra from Babylon during the reign of Artaxerxes the king. The people were listed according to their families, and the number of men present with them.Ezra later requested for ministers for the house of God, when he found out that there were no Levites present amongst the people. So, they brought men of the sons of Levi for the service of God’s house.

Ezra then proclaimed a fast to enable the people to seek the face of God for the right way for them. An interesting word was used here, ” afflict ourselves”. Fasting is like a self-affliction that tunes the heart and spirit to God, gets his attention, and benefits the individual. When the people fasted and sought God, He was entreated of them, as they were delivered of all their enemies that laid wait on their way to Jerusalem.

God continued to favour his people, as they continued to make progress with their return to Jerusalem, and the building of the temple, and re-establishing the rightful worship of the Lord their God.

 
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