Ezra 1:5-11 – When God Stirs

Read Ezra 1:5-11

Those returning from exile to rebuild the temple will not be empty-handed. God continues to stir the people into action. Cyrus, the Persian king, was certainly doing his part to help facilitate the good will called for in his proclamation from our last reading. Isn’t it something that God knew Cyrus by name before he was even born when the prophet, Isaiah, spoke of this moment in history?  (See Isaiah 44:28)

God orchestrates this whole process. How does that make you feel? One minute the people are living their normal lives and the next some are packing up to move back to their homeland. When I think about seventy years, that’s a long time to get comfortable in the land of exile. Those being stirred by God in today’s reading have likely never even seen Jerusalem.

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Mark 16:1-8 – The Empty Tomb

Read Mark 16:1-8

When is an ending not the end? When death ends in a victorious resurrection! The tomb was empty! Jesus is alive!

You also noticed that Mark’s gospel abruptly ends (in most ancient manuscripts) with verse 8. The sentences that follow here are thought to have been added to help bring a better closure to this climatic ending.

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Zechariah 7:11-14 – Implications

Read Zechariah 7:11-14

This third section of Zechariah centers around the “implications” of this new age of believers. Those returning from exile will be the remnant of God’s chosen to repopulate Jerusalem and Judah. But what does that look like?

Zechariah’s first audience kept the faith in God alive for us today. There were enough of them who listened to God’s message, warning them to not fall into the same traps their ancestors had. They say “history repeats itself,” and I suppose we see evidence of that in the Bible where patterns emerge in human behavior and motivations.

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Zechariah 7:1-7 – Celebrate God

Read Zechariah 7:1-7

Zechariah must have wondered if he was ever going to receive another message from God to give the people. Two years is a long time. Take a moment to just think back—what were you doing two years ago? Most of us probably don’t remember exactly.

Then, lo and behold, another message comes. As if God was on speed dial, the people who came for a word from God had their response. We can oftentimes find ourselves waiting on God’s response. We seek his favor, too, do we not?

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Haggai 2:10-19 – Receive God’s Blessing

Read Haggai 2:10-19

The Book of Haggai gets specific with its dates more than most Bible prophets. If I were to receive a word from God to share with people like Haggai, I’d want to memorialize the encounter by keeping track of what date that miracle took place. Knowing the date confirms “when” God spoke and makes it easier to remember and celebrate! Like having a birthday – we intentionally celebrate that on a specific date.

God wants us to celebrate him so that he can celebrate us. This prophecy would suggest that God is looking at our actions as well as our inner souls. When is the last time you celebrated God? Maybe you can look back and see his fingerprints over a particular situation. I do that all the time and stand amazed.

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