GOOD MORNING, SIBLINGS!
Today’s readings are Ezra 4-7
We begin our reading today with the current inhabitants of the land seeking an alliance of sorts with Israel.
Diving right in, read Ezra 4:2 : This was a lie. They did not seek YHWH only but as one of many gods, casting their net wide so that they may have the best outcome. They did not follow His ways. It sounds like YHWH’s people may have discerned that. There were other motives, even greater than this, which we will discuss in a moment.
We do have to be leery when the world wants to join us, as the world seeks its best interest in all things, not the interest of the Father. As such, mixing the World’s ways and the Father’s ways are mixing holy and unholy – which we have read directly and seen demonstrated time and again in our reading that the Father absolutely does not tolerate.
In this same vein, the current inhabitants of the land first sought to align themselves with Israel by using their religion, claiming it as part of their own. When that didn’t work, they resorted to other means to undermine them and showed that their interests were really political. If Israel repopulated and reclaimed the lands of their ancestors, these current inhabitants had a lot to lose in terms of power and wealth. And so they launched accusations pertaining to territorial control, taxations, and political loyalties. They initially saw the potential power of these people and so tried to use their religion as a mask in order to be a part of that. When that didn’t work, their true character came out.
However, it is worth noting that it is certain that at least some of these tribal princes of Israel returned in hopes of reclaiming land that had belonged to their ancestors and that they had been forced to abandon. There was likely not many who had a pure-hearted goal in this endeavor on either side of the fence.
It’s disconcerting to see King Artaxerxes do as the adversaries of Israel would have him do, but the only way the world can come up against YHWH is by false witness, as demonstrated by the serpent in the garden of Eden. The world may be awarded a temporary win, but remember – temporary wins are but a blink on the eternal timeline of YHWH’s reign.
Kudos to King Darius for doing his due diligence in Ezra 5-6!
Ezra 6:19 Here we see YHWH’s people keeping His appointed times (Passover and Feast of Unleavened Bread) according to the Word. WHAT JOY FOR THEM AND FOR THE FATHER! It seems impossible to read the Word of YHWH and not understand the importance of these moedim to Him. It is heartening to see His people return to keeping them in Ezra (and other books we have read and will read) just as they are doing today. Of course, we no longer have a temple so we cannot keep them perfectly according to His word, but we can keep them to the best of our ability and in the same spirit as our spiritual ancestors.
Ezra 7:10 “For Ezra had set his heart to study the Law of YHWH, and to do it and to teach His statutes and rules in Israel.”
This verse brings to mind Daniel 10:12, which is a very special verse that I came upon a few years ago when I set my heart to study the Word.
What a noble attitude!!!! I want to point out here that, of course, the law cannot save us. If we look to it for salvation, it becomes a terrible burden as we’ve taken away all hope of grace and must hold ourselves to a level of perfection that we, as humans, simply cannot manage. But if we view it as the loving guidance of a parent, a set of guidelines that, when followed, allow us to live a life as it was intended, and seek after it with the love and joy and glee that a child seeks wisdom from their Father, it then becomes a blessing to us. Knowing we are not saved by it, but are first saved by Grace, by a Father who loves us, and then we get to walk in His ways – certainly after seeing how tragically the world’s ways have failed us. This is freedom.
“For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people.”
I can’t help but think of love when I imagine something being written on my heart!
Test everything, hold tight to what is good.~ 1 Thess 5:21
We are saved by Grace alone: Obedience is not the root of our salvation, it is the fruit!