Tuesday, January 15, 2008

McCheyne Reading Plan: Catching up on Ezra

Disclaimer: In posting these thoughts, questions, and ramblings I feel it wise to give a disclaimer. There are many people that are far more knowledgeable and gifted in expositing the Word of God than I. These thoughts are not intended to be in-depth analysis of the text. They are thoughts. They are questions. They are ramblings. It will be a display of what God is teaching me through His Word. In depth study will be done at a different time. It is also good to know the author's goal. 1) To be accountable in reading through Scripture. 2) To share these thoughts with others. Possibly for someone else's edification; possibly for my own. 3) To glorify God through His Word. 4) To spur one another on in taking up Scripture and reading! So without further ado, here are today's readings:

Today I will try to finish Ezra, and start Nehemiah

Ezra 8:

I like the way that Ezra phrases (as God inspired) this statement: "And by the good hand of our God on us". You can see from this that God's hand is good. God's hand is necessary. God's hand is a blessing to be upon us. God's hand makes things happen. Therefore, I pray, may God's hand be upon us.

I can really relate to v21-23. Verse 22 really shows the humanity of Ezra. He has told the king that the hand of God is upon them. But now he is scared that God might not come through. He knows that he cannot go back to the king and ask for protection. Therefore, Ezra and his company are brought to "implore God for this". I want to "stick my foot in my mouth" like Ezra did here. Put myself in such situations that I have no hope but to trust God. I wonder what I would have done? Would I have went back to the king and defamed God's glory for my own personal comfort? I would like to think not, only the Lord knows the depths of my heart.

God answers their pray in verse 31. Again we see that God's hand was upon them.

Ezra 9:

Verse 3. Ouch! These men took sin serious. Beard pulling hurts. Sin should hurt more.

I absolutely love Ezra's prayer here. We see our appropriate posture before God (even though told to approach his throne of grace with boldness). Ashamed and blushing to lift our face to God. I too have felt like Ezra, that I'm drowning in the filth of my sin. God has granted mercy, and here are the people again, drowning in the filth of sin. I wish that many downtrodden Christians might turn to Ezra 9 to see the great mercy of God in forgiving sin after sin after sin. Can you feel the heart behind verse 10? "What shall we say after this?" I've got nothing to say. We've messed up. We are silence before you. All we have left is your mercy. It would be a marvelous grace to have this posture before the Lord rather than continual excuse making.

Verse 13, "You have punished us less than our iniquities deserved and have given us such a remnant as this". You've punished us less than we deserve (mercy) and you have lavished upon us your kindness and blessings (grace). Wow! I pray dear Lord that I might live in light of this great truth. That I am doing far better than I deserve. Help me to see your grace in EVERYTHING, EVERYWHERE, and at ALL TIMES!

Verse 15. If we really thought like this we would be far more thankful for the Cross. "We are before you in our guilt, for none can stand before you because of this."

Ezra 10:

Something about verse 1 stirs my heart. Ezra is crying out to God, confessing, weeping, casting himself down...and a great assembly come and join him. This is the type of manifestation of the grace of God that I believe our church needs. God in his great wisdom knows exactly what we need. I pray that he might apply it speedily. If it be this, then let me weep, confess, and cast myself down before our people.

verse 2...even now there is hope. God is so merciful!

Is divorce here permitted? What does he mean by putting away wives? I guess their marriage was never valid so now it is permitted. (NOTE: If you are harboring a thought that this is speaking against intermarriage in our culture, please do not. Intermarriage for us is much different than for the people of Israel. It is not sin for us; unless by intermarriage you mean a believer and an unbeliever).

verse 8..."church" discipline

"Trembling because of this matter and because of the heavy rain". That verse makes me laugh. It almost like Ezra is saying, "I'm pretty sure they were trembling because of the weight of our sin was upon us and we were in fear before a holy God....but it could have been the rain". (In the context, I really doubt the validity of this interpretation...but at first it struck me as funny)

How great would it be if people in our churches said, "We need to repent for a few days"?

How would you like to be Jonathan, Jahzeiah, Meshullam and Shabbetahi? The only four people in all Israel opposing the work of God. Sometimes being in the minority is right (the Reformers). Sometimes being in the minority is plain stupid and obstinate.

I wonder how they put away their wives and children. This hardly seems right to do, but the Lord's ways are much higher than mine. Certainly it is never wise to continue in sin. What are your thoughts on this?

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