Friday, July 30, 2010

Job Chapters 5-8

5:4 - More words of comfort from Job's incredibly compassionate friends (dripping with sarcasm). Eliphaz basically calls Job a fool when he uses crushed children as an example of things that happen to fools who turn away from God. Very sensitive example to use seeing that Job's own children had been crushed when the building they were in collapsed. This is one of those times, when it's better not to say anything at all, if this is all you have to offer. As Christians we should comfort with presence and actions rather then filling up the silence with blathering until we say something as stupid as Eliphaz did.

5:8 - He keeps going - giving advice that is not wanted at this point. Eliphaz says, "If I were you, I'd go to God." Job has got to be thinking to himself, "That is what I've been doing you idiot!" In situations like this, people are not always looking for answers and advice (In fact they probably aren't!)...Eliphaz is right, people should go to God when they need help, but he doesn't know the whole story and the timing is completely off. Job's friends have a lot to teach the Christians of the world about how not to interact with people going through tough times...we are often some of the most arrogant, big-mouthed people when others are hurting. We know what everybody needs to do and we are willing to tell them about it...let's try not to be like that anymore, okay?

5:17-18 - Again, he is saying things that are right - yes the discipline of God can will eventually be a good thing - but he is saying it in a way that is completely out of context. He believes that Job has done something horribly wrong to bring this upon himself, but it just doesn't apply here as we, the readers, know very well.

6:8-10 - At this point Job is still not accusing or blaming God for anything - he simply wants to be dead. He is crying out to God saying, "My comfort will come when you finish the job you started by taking everything away from me and kill me!" His anguish is obvious...he doesn't understand what is going on and he just wants it to be over. I think we can all probably relate.

6:24-25 - Job tells his friend, "If there is something useful you can tell me...go ahead and do it! But so far all the righteous words you have been spewing out are not the answer to my problems! (Self-righteous words are more like it)

7:20-21 - Now Job has moved to questioning God. He is saying, "What did I do God? Why is this happening to me? Whatever I have done, please forgive me!" But we can see, that suffering is not such a simple equation. Naturally Job does not understand why he is going through such tragedy, but God does know what is going on and it has nothing to do with a lack of righteousness in Job.

8:3 - Again, his friend is right. Does God pervert justice? No, of course not. But Bildad is wrong in the context of his use of this truth...he is not helping Job. Another example of jamming truth down a suffering persons throat when it isn't going to help and doesn't really apply.

8:6 (8:20) - His friend says, "Job, if you are so blameless, God will make things right...he will give you more than you ever had." Guess what - this is prophetic...this does happen! Bildad is once again right and wrong at the same time. He believes that Job has done something wrong because God has allowed such terrible things to happen to him, but Job is actually blameless and God will eventually give him more than he ever just so happens that God works on a timetable that is different from our own.

8:13-14 - They are absolutely convinced that Job has rejected God and they are absolutely wrong.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Job Chapters 1-4

1:1 - This statement sets the stage for the book - Job is a faithful follower of God. There is much discussion from Satan and Job's friends about his righteousness...but the audience knows from the very beginning that Job loves God and runs from evil.

1:5 - I think it is really interesting that Job fears that his children may be turning away from God in the midst of their celebrations. You would think that they would be very thankful to God that they are able to regularly party together, but this isn't always the case in reality. How many times have we experienced times of great success where we begin to pull away from God thinking we do not need him?

Satan = adversary

1:8- I love that God takes great pride in His children when they faithfully follow him. I picture the proud father regaling anyone around with stories of His children. It excites me that God is interested in what His people are doing, and challenges me to honor Hm even more.

1:20 - This blows my mind!!! After everything is taken from him - all his possessions - his children are dead...Job falls down on his face and worships the Lord. What an example! Am I mature enough in my faith to worship God with everything I have when my world is falling apart?

2:3 - Clearly Satan is powerless before God. He cannot even touch the people of God without God's permission. So we can take heart in the fact that the hard things we go through are part of God's plan.

2:9 - Man, if only my wife could be this supportive! We need to understand that Job's wife is also dealing with the loss of everything she knows and her children - so that may be driving some of the bitterness in her advice to Job, but this tells us that Job is truly alone from a human standpoint.

2:10 - This is a great and challenging question from can we readily accept the good things from God, and then turn away from Him when bad things come?

2:13 - The friends actually start out very well...they just come a sit shiva with Job. Sitting shiva was a Jewish tradition of coming into the presence of someone who had been through tragedy and just sitting silently n their presence. It sends a message that we are here with you...we hurt with you...and we know you don't want a bunch of solutions right now...we are going to be here when you are ready to talk. When these guys keep their mouths closed, they are actually really good friends.

3:13 - This gives us a picture of an ancient view on the after life. Job believed that after death people found themselves in a place of rest with men and women from every station in life. Pretty similar to pictures we get of heaven we find later in the scriptures.

4:7 - We see an ancient theological belief here that is hard for present day Christians to understand. This men believe that bad things only happen to people who are rebellious against God and sinful. We would say innocent people die all the time - babies in child birth, young children to starvation, etc. These men would say that these things happened because of sins passed down through the family. Their theology was that God punished sinners - period.

4:12-21 - He is actually echoing sentiments from the New Testament of the bible...Paul tells us that no one is good - not even one. Job's friend is right in one regard (That no man can be right before God), but he is wrong in another. True, no one is good, but it is not Job's sin that brought on these is actually Job's righteousness that brought about the pain he is going through.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Esther Chapters 7-10

7:7 - Esther really does a good job of manipulating the king to get the perfect situation she needs to help save her people. She gives the king food and wine for two days. She waits until the king has had a little too much to drink and is entranced by her presence, and she springs the trap on Haman. Because the king's senses were lowered by the wine, he is angrier than usual with Haman and does not allow the man to talk his wait out of trouble. I wouldn't suggest getting people drunk when you want them to do what you want, but Esther shows us that it is important to use intelligence ad ingenuity when serving the Lord's will.

7:10 - Haman dies on the gallows he had constructed for Mordecai. How many people have been destroyed by their obsession with hatred and revenge?

8:11 - Not only are the Jews saved through the king' proclamation, but they are given more freedom and power then they have ever had in this empire. Clearly God is at work in the lives of the people described int he book of Esther. God may not be mentioned, but His fingerprints are all over.

9:10/15 - The Jewish people are given permission to plunder the people who are out to destroy them, but interestingly enough they choose not to plunder. Why do you think this is the case? Maybe it is because they don't want to take on the pagan possession...maybe it is to show the king how honorable they are and that they are not trying to make a power play in the kingdom.

10:3 - Mordecai's new found power only serves to highlight the fact that he is a man of integrity. How many times in the biblical narrative have we seen people, even god people, who were given power that abuse it? The more power Mordecai is given, the more responsible ad others focused he becomes.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Esther Chapters 4-6

4:4 - The Queen is actually more distressed about the embarrassment involved in her adoptive father wailing half-naked in front of the palace than she is about what is wrong with him. Did you notice that she didn't ask him what was wrong until he refused to put on the clothes she sent him? Sometimes we get so caught up in appearances that we fail to see the pain and hurt going on in peoples' lives.

4:14 - Is Mordecai offering a prophecy? A prediction? We do not know because fortunately, Esther responds to his call to action. I think we can see here that Mordecai is definitely a man of faith...he believes that Esther has been specifically placed as Queen "for such a time as this." I love that phrase - "for such a time as this"...which begs the question: why has God placed me where I am and what is He calling me to do for His kingdom? I am ready for "such a time as this?"

4:16 - Esther is also a woman of faith - she is willing to put her life on the line for her people, but she wants to make sure that she is covered in prayer by people who are fasting and crying out to God. She knows she needs God's strength to face the challenges before her.

5:14 - Haman's pride and arrogance lead to his downfall. He is blinded by his thirst for revenge and actually sows the seeds f his own destruction.

6:10 - This made me trying to heap honor on himself Haman actually ends up personally showering gifts and honor onto his bitter enemy Mordecai.

6:13 - Haman's friends and family turn o him pretty quickly...they actually predict that he will fall because of his hatred of Mordecai. That actually become the prophetic mouthpieces of God, calling judgement down on Haman.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Esther Chapters 1-3

1:16-17 - The treatment of women during this time was deplorable, but the king's advisor actually hits on some deep truth in this passage. When people choose to rebel the consequences are much more far reaching than they can probably imagine. The Queen refused to see the king and the advisor believes that she has brought trouble for all men, because other women will see the example of the Queen and rebel against their husbands. The first thing that came to my mind when I read this was Christian hypocrisy. If people are going to call themselves Christians and then live totally opposite of that statement - they are not only sinning against God, but against all of Christianity and everyone who sees their hypocritical example. They sin against the non-Christian who sees their lack of wholeness and either rejects God because of hypocrisy or believes that Christians can claim faith and then do whatever they want. When we claim the name of Christ - we take on huge responsibilities.

2:11 - I am really impressed by the commitment of Mordecai in this passage. Esther is not his daughter. Esther is basically a slave trapped in the pagan king's harem. Mordecai could have written her off as unclean, but instead, every day he goes to the steps of the harem and inquires about her life. Great example of a man of honor.

2:17 - I don't know if you already know this, but God is never mentioned in the book of Esther. Though he is not mentioned by name, I think it is clear to see that His hand is at work throughout the events. Esther, the poor Jewish exile, is made the Queen of the most powerful empire on earth just in time to save God's people. Hmmmm...sounds like God may have been around.

3:2 - God is not mentioned here, but we see God honored through godly living. Mordecai will not bow because he is a Jew...he is a follower of the most high God and refuses to offer his worship to anything else. I wish there were a few more Christians, myself included that were so careful with where they offered their honor and worship.

Sidenote: We do not know who wrote the book of Esther. It was written years after the event to explain why the Jewish people celebrate Purim (Which commemorates the salvation of the Jews through God and Esther). Some believe it was Ezra or Nehemiah or even Mordecai himself. I personally lean towards Mordecai, because of the failure to mention God. In Ezra and Nehemiah, we see the two men instantly giving credit to God for every victory. Mordecai is an exiled Jew and may not have a sophisticated theology of God and just wrote the facts as he saw them.

3:13 - How many times has this happened in history? Over and over we see that God's people are hated because they are different. Because they have the audacity to stay true to their beliefs in the face of persecution...because they are willing to say there is one and only one God. I also believe there is something more spiritually sinister going on behind the scenes...I believe that Satan and his minions target the people of God to try to

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Nehemiah Chapters 10 - 13

10:29 - Interesting statement says they entered into a curse and an oath. It sounds strange to consider entering in to a relationship with God to be a curse, but what they are trying to do is highlight the seriousness of this sacred covenant. They are making an oath - promising to follow God - and that is something that will bring great hope and prosperity to their lives, if they stay faithful to God. But they also must understand that if they turn their backs on God, then they have turned this blessing into a curse and will bring disastrous consequences.

10:30ff - I think it would be really beneficial for churches to have people agree to very specific covenants when they enter into community together. Talk about a great way to make sure that everyone understands the core values of a church. What do you think some of those covenant promises would sound like in a church today?

11:2 - Jerusalem is a broken down ghost town with a newly built wall and a temple. It is surrounded by enemies - not exactly making the top ten list of great places to live. So the men who are willing to live in the sitting and defend it and work towards rebuilding it are honored. They are more focused on God being honored than on their own comfort.

12:30 - I love that they dedicate and set apart everything for God's service - themselves, the gates, the wall, etc. They never celebrate their own ingenuity and commitment to get the wall built, because this wall was not rebuilt for their glory but for the glory of God. So they purify it and offer it up to Him as their sacrificial gift. Really beautiful. Something that should probably be worked into Christian building projects as they come about.

13:3 - Wow - utter conviction and instant action...that is a great picture of committed faith. Wish I was a little better at acting upon my convictions.

13:7-8 - While Nehemiah was gone, Eliashib prepares a chamber inside the house of God for Tobiah! This was a chamber that was used to house goods that were basically stolen from other priest (i.e. stolen from God). This room is created to bring honor and power to a man and they have the audacity to build it right into the house of God. Talk about twisted! Church leaders must be really careful never to use their position of influence in churches to set up position of power and self-glorification.

13:17 - Here we go again...look how quickly they are going back on the covenants they just renewed. They are already trying to turn the life-giving covenant into a curse.

13:31 - Throughout chapter 13 you see Nehemiah say over and over that he wants God to remember his good deeds. His focus in life is to leave behind a legacy of honoring God. Not a bad life focus if you ask me.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Nehemiah Chapters 7-9

7:3-4 - They have finished the wall, but this is no time to sit back, relax and celebrate their victory. They are an outnumbered people in a hostile land and they must be careful to defend what they have worked for. This reminds me a little of the letdown that happens in churches sometimes after a huge event. Something incredible happens in the church and the people sit back and pat themselves on the back, while losing momentum. The church is an outnumbered people in a hostile land (no matter where on earth that church is)...we should celebrate our victories, but remember that we have to be ready for whatever is coming next...ready to think creatively, change, adapt, etc.

7:65 - If people could not prove their heritage through documentation that were still afforded a chance to prove their ancestry through the Spirit of God. Urim and Thummim were stones that would be cast by priests to allow God to give them answers directly. They would cast stones to find out where people came from as a final option. Why was it important? Because their ancestry would determine the kind of land holding the returning exiles would receive.

8:3 - Now that is what I can a sermon, right there...8 to 10 hours of solid Bible! Wow. The people stand for the entire reading of the scripture (Some of us complain when we've had to stand for a couple songs), because they are hungry for knowledge of their Law...for knowledge of who they are. They have been exiled...they have been cut off from the Word of God and when they finally get a chance to hear their story, they are drinking it in. What can we do to regain that same kind of passion for God's Word, in a world where we all own multiple Bibles and routinely attend worship services?

8:8 - Very innovative teachings style. The Word of God is read in short manageable chunks and the the Levites walk through the crowd making sure that everyone understands what that means for their lives. It might be interesting to try something like this with my high school students and youth leaders.

8:9 - Why do the people weep? Isn't this a moment of great celebration? Well, you could say that they are weeping from joy, but the passage clearly says that they are mourning. I believe we are seeing a picture of conviction. The people did not fully understand how rebellious they had been against their creator God until they heard the whole of the Law. They are cut to the heart by their own sinfulness. This demonstrates the power of God's word to peal back our defenses and expose the reality of what is going on in our hearts. We shouldn't be scared to face our failure, because that is what drives us deeper into God's gracious arms. We should be scared when we fail to be convicted - that is truly dangerous.

9:3 - How about this for our next sermon series at church. We spend half the morning reading scripture, and then we all stand up and confess to one another how we failed to live up to what we just read! Sound fun. I just love the raw nature of this communal worship...these people have nothing to hide...they understand that they only have each other and they are laying it all out on the table. We could use a little more of this in the American Church.

Chapter 9 - Ever what a Cliff Notes version of the entire Old Testament? Well, Nehemiah lays it out pretty nicely for you in chapter 9. Great summary.

9:20/30 - Clear reference to a deep understanding of the Spirit of God at work, that almost sounds like it comes from the New Testament. Nehemiah describes the Spirit of God as serving as a guide and an instructor for the people (Much like John's descriptions). The difference is that the Spirit of God generally worked through external means in the Old Testament, and after the sacrifice of Christ we have the opportunity to have the Spirit of God dwelling within us....which is kinda cool, right?

9:33 - No matter how far the people of Israel have fallen away from God, He remains faithful to His promises and His people. The Jews have been conquered and exiled because of their rebellion, but they still understand that God has been utterly righteous and good in all His actions.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Nehemiah Chapters 4-6

4:1 - Why is Sanballat so angry? Because he sees the rebuilding of Jerusalem as an affront to his authority. Instead of working alongside the Jews and creating alliances that would lead to peace - he allows his ego to dictate his course of action.

4:9 - The people pray and trust in God, but they still prepare themselves for battle. They use the minds that God gave them and devise a good defensive strategy. This doesn't mean that they don't trust God...this means that they are willing to fight for the calling that God has placed on them.

4:14 - I am reminded of the lamest final speech a commander ever gave his troops, which happens to come from a movie called "300." In an effort to inspire his troops. Leonidas offers them this encouraging tidbit, "Tonight we dine in hell!" Wow - if I was in that army...I would have had my second thoughts at that point...that doesn't sound like the stuff of inspiration. Nehemiah on the other hand knows how to inspire the troops...he says, "Do not be afraid - remember the awesome power of our God, and fight for your future - your brothers, your sisters, your children...that is why we stand...that is why we fight!" Now that is a speech I can get behind.

4:17-18 - I love this passage. They are working away on the wall with weapons strapped all over their bodies. Like I said before...this doesn't mean that don't trust just shows how committed they are to following through on the rebuilding that God called them to. God often works through human means, when the human make themselves available to His will and that is exactly what these people are doing!

5:8 - One of the most frustrating things in youth ministry is when you come home from an incredible mission trip where the kids have served and worked hard all week...and in the vans on the way back they start treating each other like garbage. It's like they have instantly forgotten about the entire experience and can only think of themselves. It has got to be really frustrating here for Nehemiah. They are in the midst of returning from captivity and rebuilding their homeland and some of the Jewish leaders are actually enslaving their Jewish brothers with debt! Nehemiah gives them the old what-for!

5:13 - Very nice object illustration!

5:18-19 - Nehemiah actually sets the example for other leaders with his generosity. He could be taking a governor's allowance from his people, but instead his is feeding over 150 people from his own pocket every day. He has allowed his anger over the greed of other leaders to drive him to make a difference and bring change. Great example for us.

6:16 - The surrounding people who have mocked the Jews and tried to stop the rebuilding are now shaking in their boots, because the walls have been completed. They know without a doubt that God is once again with the people of Israel and it scares them. There should be a noticeable difference int he lives and accomplishments of those who walk in the path of the most high God. Go live it out.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Nehemiah Chapters 1-3

1:4 - You can see clearly that the love that Nehemiah has for his people is great. He hears that the remnant in Israel have allowed the city of Jerusalem to fall into ruin and have shamed themselves and he weeps. Do I feel the same depth of love for the "Bride of Christ" - The Church? Do I weep when I see the shame that is sometimes brought to the name of God by his people?

1:11 - I really like the phrase "delight to fear in your name." Delight and fear seem to oppose one another, but Nehemiah is saying that it is really good to be under the rule of a loving and powerful God...they delight in the fact that their God is awe-inspiring. Kinda like the way you felt about your Dad as a child - he is huge and strong and kinda scary, but you also delighted in the fact that you felt loved and taken-care-of around him.

2:2 - This is a very dangerous situation. Pagan kings could kill their servants for anything! Artaxerxes could have had Nehemiah killed for daring to look downcast in his presence. Fortunately God uses a potentially dangerous situation as a spring board for bringing restoration to Jerusalem.

2:4-5 - I love that Nehemiah is clearly praying in the midst of a conversation he is having with the king. He sets a great example for us by showing that you can pray instantaneously at anytime - you don't have to close your eyes, clasp your hands and pray a form prayer. Nehemiah throws out a flash prayer to prepare for his discussion with the king. Because he keeps such an open connection with God, he is ready to boldly speak out when an opportunity presents itself. Hopefully we will all be prepared to jump on opportunities that God places before us.

2:17 - When I see Nehemiah talking about the state of Jerusalem, my mind is always drawn to the state of the Church today. I wish Christians would speak boldly to one another like Nehemiah did..."Do you see the state of the church? This is unacceptable! Let us work together to build a single unified body of Christ." We get so caught up in competing with one another and worship styles and theological differences, that we present a broken down image of the body of Christ to the world...and that is a shame.

3:5 - This does not bode well for the future of the Tekoites - their leadership refuses to get their hands dirty serving God?! That is not he kind of leadership I would want to work under. The description from the text is pretty brutal - it says they would not STOOP to serve their Lord. Mere created beings - finite and mortal - wouldn't bring themselves to serve their eternal, creator, not the place you wanna be.

3:12 - On the other hand we see the leadership of Shallum. He is out working with his own two hands and has set such an example for his people that even his daughters have come out to work beside the men. This would be pretty revolutionary in the male-dominated middle east thousands of years ago.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Ezra Chapters 7-10

7:10 - Ezra was given an incredible opportunity to lead, because he was a man of God who had made it his mission in life to write the words of God's Law on his heart and live that out. He was non-hypocritical in the way he lived his life and because of his integrity, he was given the chance to lead his people.

7:23/25 - It is amazing to see God at work in the heart of Artaxerxes! In verse 23 the pagan king acknowledges God as the ruler of heaven, not just Jerusalem, placing God higher than his own hereditary gods. The king is willing to help the Israelites and do anything within his power (which is alot!) to make sure that YAHWEH is satisfied. Wow - God has really made himself knbown to Artaxerxes. In verse 25, we see the king offer power to Ezra that goes beyond anything a king would normally give to soemone within his realm. Ezra is basically given free reign to ruler and elect officials as God wills. This kind of freedom is unheard of in ancient times.

7:27 - Ezra has every opportunity to start believing that he has done something special - he has worked hard to live true to God's Laws, he has been given great power, he is traveling around with tens of thousands of pounds of precious metals...but his first reaction is to give all the credit to God.

8:21 - Before their great moment of triumph, Ezra once again shows that his heart is in the right place. He leads the people in a time of fasting and prayer before their journey to Jerusalem, so that everyone is spiritually prepared and focused on God. This is a huge event in the histroy of the nation of Israel that demands focus and faith. He sets a great example for Christians who are facing huge decisions.

9:2ff - The next couple of chapters raise some really tough questions for modern Christian readers? Why would God exclude people from His nation? Why are the Jews not allowed to intermarry? Why is this such a big deal. God singled out some specific people groups in Levitcus and Duteronamoy and that His people were not allowed to marry and it has nothing to do with their has everything to do with their pervasive idolatry. Turn back to Ezra 6:21 and read what it says. It says that people from outside of Israel who were willing to worship God as the one an only God were allowed to become part of God's people. What this tells us is that the women that the Jewish leaders were marrying, were not followers of God...they were actually still practicing their cultural forms of idolatry. I would absolutely tell my children not to marry women or men who worship false gods - God is no different. The chocking part of this story is that it is the leaders of Israel who are first and foremost the ones intermnarrying with faithless pagans - that does not speak highly of their faith.

10:2ff - The Israelite men make a vow to "put away" the pagan women and children. This is harsh...there is no way around it...these women and children are exiled from the people of God. Any Israelite men who refuse to do so will also be exiled. Again we see the harsh and brutal consequences that come about when the people of God fail to follow His commands. If the Jewish men had not allowed themselves to marry pagan idolatrous women, then they would not have had to kick them out of the community later. We know nothing of what happens to the people who are exiled...we are just left with a bad taste in our mouth.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Ezra Chapters 4-6

4:3 - Why do they reject the help of these men who claim to be followers of God? They say it is because King Cyrus only told them to do it, but I believe that they do not trust the other men who have offered to help. I believe they think the men will actually try to hamper the rebuilding of Jerusalem. (Side note: These men are actually from Samaria, which gives you even more background information on the hatred that existed between the two groups)

4:4-16 - We see the true colors of the men who had offered to help. When they didn't get the response they wanted, they immediately set out to make the work for the builders as hard as possible. The quandary is - would they have hampered the work if the Jews had allowed them to help? The bible doesn't tell us.

4:24 - This has got to be frustrating. The exiles have returned to their destroyed city to rebuild the temple of God. They are doing God's will - they are sacrificing and serving - yet they continue to face opposition and hardship. How many times do Christians go through similar experiences? There is spiritual war taking place in this world and the tides of battle go back and forth, but what we can see clearly through the biblical text is the faithfulness of God to pull His people through (Though not always on their timetable).

5:1 - Haggai and Zechariah prophesy reminding the people that they have lost sight of God's plan to rebuild the temple. The people have given up because of the decree of an earthly King and the prophets are calling them to action.

5:2 - The leaders of the Jews hear the voice of God through the prophets and decide to trust that the will of God is actually found int he original decree of Cyrus - so they start building again.

5:11-13 - I love that the Jewish people working on the temple just lay it all out there for the people that are questioning them. They boldly proclaim that they are servants of the God of heaven and earth (A huge claim in a world where most people thought gods were attached to certain earthly territories) - they say they rebelled against God and had everything taken from them and now they are trying to rebuild the temple to bring honor to His name. They offer no lies, no deception, just matter-of-fact truth. It seems like there are a lot of times in our lives where we try to downplay our faith and what it means to follow God, so we don't get embarrassed or look foolish in the eyes of others. But I want to be more like these Jews - I love the straight forward nature of their explanation of why they are there. Why am I here? What am I doing? Messing around with money and experiences and work - or am I living for a greater purpose?

6:8 - Wow! Talk about God at work! Darius not only approves of what the Jews are doing, but he also offers to pay for part of the rebuilding costs. It seems that his form of governing to keep the vast Persians Empire together was to allow people to hold on to some of their hereditary customs, which woks out well for the Israelites.

6:10 - We also see another angle on Darius' motivation for giving the Jews the help they need to rebuild the temple. He wants to be sure he has all his bases covered when it comes to receiving blessings from God. This isn't really faith...more like fire insurance.

6:22 - The picture we get from these chapters is that no matter what sort of obstacles and issues come up in the human realm, God just continues to roll His plan out.