two ladies at sunset September 12 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today’s Bible reading or alternate versions (use your browser arrow to return): Zechariah 7-8; Ezra 5:1- 6:18

God Works for His Glory and our Good

We value our best friends, not just because they like us or do things together with us, but because they love us and want what is best for us. They are on our side in good times and bad. Perhaps you have experienced trouble and difficulty in your life, and you need more than a friend—you need God. Is God still at work? Is He on your side? This Bible study may offer you some encouragement.

By the grace of God many Jewish exiles returned to their homeland. They built an altar and sang as the foundations of their temple were laid. As we saw in yesterday’s Bible reading, their neighbors did not want the Jews in their land. They set about to discourage the work and were successful in stopping it. The LORD was not happy. He decided to stop blessing the Jews. Furthermore, He sent drought and famine. Then the prophets Haggai and Zechariah encouraged the Jews to repent, return to God, rise up, and rebuild. The people did so; the work was re-started, and God’s blessings returned to them.

During their exile in Babylon, the Jews held an annual fast of mourning because of the destruction of their land, and they also held religious feasts. A delegation from the nearby town of Bethel in Israel wanted to know if they should continue the ceremony, since the temple was being restored. God’s response is that He wants reality not ritual (The Bible Knowledge Commentary of the O.T., edited by Walvoord and Zuck, ©1985, p.1559). Previous generations continued religious rituals but were rebellious against God and His laws. The LORD said this is a new day. He has forgiven them, brought them back to their land, and the temple is being restored. This is a time of rejoicing and feasting, not mourning.

This is what the LORD Almighty says: “Just as I had determined to bring disaster upon you and showed no pity when your fathers angered me,” says the LORD Almighty, “so now I have determined to do good again to Jerusalem and Judah.

Do not be afraid. These are the things you are to do: Speak the truth to each other, and render true and sound judgment in your courts; do not plot evil against your neighbor, and do not love to swear falsely. I hate all this,” declares the LORD.

Again the word of the LORD Almighty came to me. This is what the LORD Almighty says: “The fasts of the fourth, fifth, seventh and tenth months will become joyful and glad occasions and happy festivals for Judah. Therefore love truth and peace” (Zechariah 8:14-19, NIV).

When God had cast Israel out of her land, He punished her for her good so she would repent and turn back to Him. Withholding His blessings when they stopped rebuilding the temple was also for her good, that they might repent and turn back to Him. Since He restored the people of Israel, there is no longer a reason to mourn—it is a time to rejoice and live responsibly! Do we have problems forgiving our sins? If God has forgiven us, He does not want us to continue to hang our head in remorse. No, he wants us to live obediently and rejoice!

Israel’s return to the work of building the temple once again disturbs her neighbors. The rulers of the area, called the Trans-Euphrates, question them about the legality of building a temple. Then they send a letter to King Darius of Persia, asking him to search and find out if Cyrus had really made a decree allowing the Jews to return and do this. More trouble is brewing, but this time the Jews continue to build.

The report from the investigation shocks the rulers of the Trans-Euphrates. The truth of the Jewish claims is not only validated, but King Darius orders the people in the area to supply the Jews with everything they need to complete the job and then leave them alone. What can they do? They must obey. The temple is completed in the sixth year of the reign of King Darius without any further harassment. There is much rejoicing, singing and offering of sacrifices. God has indeed worked for their good.

The LORD will someday make Israel into the greatest nation on earth.

This is what the LORD says: “I will return to Zion and dwell in Jerusalem. Then Jerusalem will be called the City of Truth, and the mountain of the LORD Almighty will be called the Holy Mountain.”

This is what the LORD Almighty says: “Once again men and women of ripe old age will sit in the streets of Jerusalem, each with cane in hand because of his age.

The city streets will be filled with boys and girls playing there” (Zechariah 8:3-5, NIV).

These Scriptures refer to the future 1,000 year reign of Jesus Christ (otherwise referred to as the Millennium, Revelation 20:4). It will be a time of world-wide peace and God’s favor upon Israel (Isaiah 11:1-10). All of her nation will be spiritually re-born (saved). Jesus will reign on His throne, and all nations will come to worship in Jerusalem (more about this in our next lesson). Everyone will want to be a friend to the Jew because he will be highly favored. The LORD will bring about Israel’s promising future after a time of great tribulation (Jeremiah 30:4-7).

Although not Israel, the church also has a great future ahead of her. All who have placed personal faith in Jesus Christ for their salvation have an inheritance in heaven reserved for them (John 14:1-3;1Peter 1:3-5). Have you placed your faith in Jesus? Do you have the hope of heaven in your future? (more...)

Lessons to Live By

  • God is at work for our good, even if we are suffering for our sins or poor choices.
  • When we return to God, He wants us to obey and live victoriously, not remorsefully.
  • All who have placed personal faith in Jesus Christ for their salvation have an inheritance in heaven reserved for them. (more...)
  • The LORD is on the side of the Christian. He does all things for His glory and our good.

Focus Verses

Ephesians 3:20-21 (NIV)

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. (NIV)

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A Look Ahead: After the Jews finish the wall there is a Celebration! What can you celebrate? Join us for our Next Lesson.

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