Ezra 1:1-4 – Prophecy Fulfilled

Read Ezra 1:1-4

It had been seventy years, and now we see how God kept the promise he had given in Jeremiah’s prophecy. The time of captivity in Babylon was coming to an end. The new ruler, Cyrus, had been prompted by God to allow the exiles to return to their homeland. What a proclamation this is!

The Book of Ezra chronicles this return and how the people begin to rebuild their lives. We’ll read about the restoration of God’s people as they retell old stories and address new situations along the way. Would God’s promises still hold true? Had the people forgotten God during their time of exile?

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Zechariah 5:5-11 – Wickedness Contained

Read Zechariah 5:5-11

Another interesting vision to contemplate, brought to us by the prophet, Zechariah. This time he sees a bushel basket full of wickedness. I love the creativity God uses to make his intentions known. He doesn’t just use words! So, what message did this vision bring to you?

Did you find it interesting that wickedness was personified as a woman? In chapter 17 of the book of Revelation, John sees evil as the “great prostitute.” Now I have a picture of that woman in the container! And then, out of nowhere, two women with long, graceful wings enter the scene to take the wicked one away into the clouds. Without any explanation, such a vision would be a bit unsettling. We’re not given much enlightenment either.

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Habakkuk 1:5-11 – The Lord Answered

Read Habakkuk 1:5-11

The Lord responds by giving quite a speech! Do you think Habakkuk had a hard time getting past the part about God raising up the Babylonians to destroy. But there is no direct mention of the terror they will bring on Judah.

Do you think Habakkuk “connected the dots” and realized God had heard his lament? God had also seen all the disrespect and evil that was troubling Habakkuk. The cruelty of the Babylonians would soon descend to discipline his own people.

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1 Peter 5:10-14 – God’s Grace For You

Read 1 Peter 5:10-14

God’s fingerprints are all over this text. God’s kindness is the reason we have everything we have. The inheritance God is holding for us is beyond valuable. It’s all because he sent his son, Jesus, to rescue and redeem us.

How do we respond to God when he picks us up, brushes us off, and puts us back on track, on his firm foundation? Peter gives praise! “All power to him forever! Amen.” How can we help but overflow with gratitude for the grace God extends to us!

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Nahum 1:12-15 – Hope & Doom

Read Nahum 1:12-15

Our last reading set the theological context for what Nahum’s message is all about. In this reading, we see clearly two messages, one to Nineveh and one to God’s people, Israel. The same message was heard differently, depending on the perspective. God’s promise of hope and doom were wrapped up in this communication.

Despite the viewpoint, God’s prophecy must have sounded unbelievable. The might of the Assyrian empire was seemingly invincible. The people would see this prophecy play out and realize that God was not only true to his word, but that he was truly invincible. That’s the picture I have of God and I don’t need to witness the crumbling of a mighty nation to understand. The oracle pronouncing this judgment on Assyria would bring peace, freedom, and restoration from the oppression God’s people had endured.

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