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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Malachi 2:1-9 – Shortcuts * Part Two

Read Malachi 2:1-9

Our last reading exposed the priests who were taking shortcuts and not honoring God in their sacrificial practices. Perhaps other areas of ministry were also suffering, but the prophecy was concerned with “shortcut” sacrifices that dishonored God.

We realize we, too, often fall short of giving God the priority he deserves. Today’s reading speaks to what happens when we do that. Malachi warns the priests that God will curse them for not following God’s ways and ignoring his instructions.

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Zechariah 8:1-8 – If Only You Could See

Read Zechariah 8:1-8

Zechariah’s visions reveal God’s intentions for Jerusalem. The LORD declares, “My love for Mount Zion is passionate and strong; I am consumed with passion for Jerusalem!” The LORD is returning to dwell in Jerusalem in the midst of his people.

This passage must have been what a friend of mine was referring to years ago when he talked about returning to Jerusalem. It was as if he believed his own faith journey would one day lead him to Jerusalem.

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2 Peter 1:5-11 – Responding to God’s Promise

Read 2 Peter 1:5-11

In our last reading, we explored how faith is a gift from the Lord along with his promise we can reflect his divine nature. This text gives us more insight into how we should respond to this gift. Apparently, we need to “take action” to enjoy the richness of the promise’s fulfillment.

To accomplish this task, Peter teaches us how to acknowledge and handle the gift we’ve been given. I’m guessing Peter expected people would not take advantage of all God has to offer. It’s helpful to know a response is needed so we don’t leave God’s promise behind. Did the prescription Peter outlines seem a bit daunting?

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Obadiah 1-9 – Edom’s Judgment

Read Obadiah 1-9

Welcome to Obadiah, the shortest book in the Old Testament. Its message is about oppression and betrayal, from both vantage points. We’ll also see examples of being the “innocent bystander” in perilous times. It’s thought that Obadiah would have written this prophecy sometime after the Babylonian conquest, but it is not clearly stated.

Obadiah’s message reveals God’s dramatic response to anyone who would harm his precious children. Edom was one of those nations, located southwest of the Dead Sea. The Edomite people were descendants of Esau, Jacob’s twin brother. Remember the story about the birth right in Genesis 27? We see time and again in the Old Testament references to the hostilities and struggles Edom had with God’s people, Israel.  

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