Taking the Epistle

A biblical journey through the epistles

Category Archives: Esther

BIAY – Bible in a year – May 26th 2015

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This article is part of a series called Bible in a year, for the full year please check out our BIAY home page, or for May check out our May page.

Thank you for checking out “bible in a year” post for May twenty sixth.

Today’s scripture is as follows:

Esther 6-10.

Please share, comment or like below as the LORD leads
TGBTG
TTE

BIAY – Bible in a year – May 25th 2015

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This article is part of a series called Bible in a year, for the full year please check out our BIAY home page, or for May check out our May page.

Thank you for checking out “bible in a year” post for May twenty fifth.

Today’s scripture is as follows:

Esther 1-5.

Please share, comment or like below as the LORD leads
TGBTG
TTE

TTE Advent Calendar Day Twelve – December 12th

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TTE Advent Calendar Day Twelve – December 12th

Thank you for reading our twelfth installment of our advent series, please check out our advent page for more articles in this series.

Isaiah 40:3 (ESV) A voice cries: “In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD; make straight in the desert a highway for our God. 4 Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain. 5 And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together, for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.”

Thanks for visiting and reading our article today. Today’s article is very similar to a few days ago when we spoke about John the Baptist, we look at it from the prophecy standpoint that the messiah will have a fore runner.

We went into detail a couple of days ago regarding the prophecy in Malachi 4:5-6 and we also confirmed this in the New Testament when we looked at the Gospel of Matthew chapter 11. Lets look at the passage of scripture in Isaiah.

We read that “A voice cries: “In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD; make straight in the desert a highway for our God.” We know this is of course John the Baptist. The words that are written advise that this messenger will be preparing the way for the LORD, who is the messiah, the historical figure we know as Jesus Christ.

We also learn that he is crying out in the wilderness, for me I have always wondered whether this is a physical wilderness as in will he only preach in the desolate places or is it a spiritual wilderness, will he only preach to those who are spiritually barren in heart. I personally think it is a bit of both, we will read in Luke 3:6-9 that he addressed the ones that the world saw as holy, but in all truth their hearts were far from God, we see this in how they dealt with the messiah who was sent to atone for their very sins.

This phrase “prepare ye the way of the LORD” makes me think of the current monarch of Great Britain Queen Elizabeth II. When she is due to travel on a royal procession and her route is known to local authorities certain preparations take place before she makes that journey.

All vehicles are removed from the streets she is scheduled to go down, the public are placed behind barriers, police, army and bomb disposal units sweep the area to ensure the monarchs safety and the way is prepared long before to facilitate a secure, safe and comfortable journey for HRH.

This is a modern day example of what is spoken in verses 3-5, our king (Jesus) is a much better king than any sinful monarch. We have to also prepare our hearts for the LORD too, verse 5 talks about how all flesh shall see the glory of the LORD because he is the only one who can change our hearts and allow us to be with him for eternity.

Let’s look at Luke…

Luke 3:1 (ESV) In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene, 2 during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John the son of Zechariah in the wilderness. 3 And he went into all the region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 4 As it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet, “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. 5 Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked shall become straight, and the rough places shall become level ways, 6 and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.’” 7 He said therefore to the crowds that came out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8 Bear fruits in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham. 9 Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.”

We learn almost to the year of when this happened due to Luke’s timeline in verses 1 & 2. Romans had their calendar listed as to who was Caeser (Tiberius) we get further validation on the governor (Pilate) the local king (Herod) another king in the area (Philip & Lysanias) and who was the high priests (Annas and Caiaphas) we have 5 validations of the point of history we are speaking of. Who said the Bible was vague?

Luke does this to appeal to all audiences and peoples; he lists the Roman leaders from the top down, then the royal leaders and lastly the religious leaders. Luke was keen to be relevant to whoever sought to know about the life of Jesus Christ.

This is an application for me, making the gospel available to everyone. I listened to a song that had the lyric “Jesus paid much to high a price, so we could pick and choose who should come”. We as the body of Christ have to reach everyone regardless of their social status or reciprocal value. We are called to “make disciples of all nations” not called to make disciples if they have a credit score of 600 and above.

We have an almost Pharisee like view sometimes when it comes to witnessing when in fact in many cases it is the ones who are at rock bottom and have nowhere else to turn will be more receptive to a gospel that offers hope. I don’t begin to understand why some people have had such a rough life but I do know that we have a caring God who can rescue us if it is his will.

I mention the “Pharisee in me” as that is who John was talking to. The ones who thought that they were alright with God because they did their wee holy tricks and rituals and got great praise from men due to being the loudest prayers and the most often being spiritual to be seen to be spiritual.

I love how John starts his sermon, if he was Scottish he would be saying “Ya bunch of snakes” great way to get their attention huh? Imagine if you went to church on Sunday and your pastor started with that line! Or even started with the line “What are you doing here anyway?” it doesn’t strike as very friendly in today’s all inclusive “let’s not offend anyone” gospel.

He wasn’t there to flatter, to puff up those who already had a high opinion of themselves; he was doing as it says in the epistle to Jude…

Jude 1:23 (ESV) save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh

These were holy men sure, but they were also stained by their inner sin. You have to realize that it is not the sin that we make known to other men that will destroy us, it is the sin that we keep deep down in our hearts that we refuse to let go of. That is the real destroyer of mighty men of God. Jesus called the self-same men “whitewashed tombs”.

I love how he brings up the very argument they would use to grant themselves righteousness, they would say that “Abraham was their father”. Much as I would love to ensure all of my families’ security in heaven, unless they make their own decision for the LORD, then they shall not be with me in paradise. That is painful as I do have love for them, for example my older brother, he is my sibling, but simply being my sibling is not going to change his eternal direction if he does not choose Jesus for himself.

This is especially important for Pastors Kids, trusting in a legacy is futile as we all own our eternal direction, we all have that same opportunity that Adam and Eve had, to choose God or reject him. John goes on to say that God could repeat creation and raise children from the stones and the earth. (Logical in my opinion that’s where they came from in the first place) and he really gave them their place in the scheme of things. They thought they were so lofty and righteous and really they were not. John who was empowered with the spirit of Elijah saw right through them.

The last part is that he advised that they should be bearing fruit, John could see that in their lives they were not showing any fruit. Lets look at two verses which show you what I mean. The first is in Galatians chapter 5…

Galatians 5:19 (ESV) Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

I really need not comment as I already am making a list of the stuff that I don’t always bear fruit upon. Make no mistake about it, I am certainly not looking for moral victory on the stuff I get right! Let’s look about how the bible defines love. One of the best definitions is in Paul’s 1st letter to the Corinthian church in chapter thirteen…

1st Corinthians 13:1 (ESV) If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing

Really I could be like these Pharisee men and look the part, even do works that God will allow me to do, but if I don’t love I have missed the point completely. Even if I am killed for my faith and give the ultimate sacrifice, I have nothing!

Jesus preached about love more than anything else, because God is love. God does not desire that any should perish but all should have eternal life. That is why he sent that aforementioned messiah that John prepared the way for. His sacrifice as the second Adam gave us the opportunity to be reconciled to God; it is not up to us to take him up on his offer of salvation.

God bless you one and all, I thank you for reading this article. Please share, comment or like below as the LORD leads you too.
TGBTG
TTE

Purim and its relevance to Christians

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On Sundown Saturday 15th March, the Jewish calendar celebrates the feast day of “Purim”. The jist of the festival is the commemoration of the deliverance of the Jewish people from the Persian Empire, biblically this is found in the book of Esther.

In Esther 9 we read (KJV Version)

17. On the thirteenth day of the month Adar; and on the fourteenth day of the same rested they, and made it a day of feasting and gladness. 18. But the Jews that were at Shushan assembled together on the thirteenth day thereof, and on the fourteenth thereof; and on the fifteenth day of the same they rested, and made it a day of feasting and gladness. 19. Therefore the Jews of the villages, that dwelt in the unwalled towns, made the fourteenth day of the month Adar a day of gladness and feasting, and a good day, and of sending portions one to another. 20. And Mordecai wrote these things, and sent letters unto all the Jews that were in all the provinces of the king Ahasuerus, both nigh and far, 21. To stablish this among them, that they should keep the fourteenth day of the month Adar, and the fifteenth day of the same, yearly, 22. As the days wherein the Jews rested from their enemies, and the month which was turned unto them from sorrow to joy, and from mourning into a good day: that they should make them days of feasting and joy, and of sending portions one to another, and gifts to the poor. 23. And the Jews undertook to do as they had begun, and as Mordecai had written unto them; 24. Because Haman the son of Hammedatha, the Agagite, the enemy of all the Jews, had devised against the Jews to destroy them, and had cast Pur, that is, the lot, to consume them, and to destroy them;

As you can read above, Purim is celebrated on the 14th day of the Jewish month of Adar. (Which falls on Saturday 15th March this year) the relevance to Christians is that it is simply in the Bible. The holiday is more of a National holiday rather than a Jewish religious one. Apart from the Torah readings it is a celebration, with costumes, games, noise and food often times the children will act out the passage from Esther. It is a fun holiday.

I love the definition of Purim in this vers “Pur” means lot, or a lot and “Im” is plural so it is literally the feast of lots, Haman cast lots to decide when he was to destroy Israel, serious stuff huh?

According to Wikipedia the four main mitzvot (obligations) of the day are:

1.Listening to the public reading, usually in synagogue, of the Book of Esther in the evening and again in the following morning (k’riat megillah)
2.Sending food gifts to friends (mishloach manot)
3.Giving charity to the poor (matanot la’evyonim)
4.Eating a festive meal (se`udat mitzvah)

Personally I find the whole thing fascinating as it is a part of Biblical history. I am no Jewish scholar or expert in Jewish history, I know what I have read and weighed the perspectives it has been written from in the balance, to balance out any bias.

From a Christian perspective

On a personal note, I equate celebrations of delivery from a past evil much like I view my personal delivery from my sinful ways when I began a relationship with Jesus Christ. Prior to my “BC” (Before Christ) life, I was under a slavery of my own, slavery to sin, slavery to my own will and an ever decreasing circle of being unfulfilled.

I am in favor of the feast of Purim as it is good to remember the times that God has delivered us from the trials that we have been in, whether those trials have been great or small. How many times have you prayed to God for deliverance but not actually thanked him when he got you out of what was troubling you?

I am not a “replacement theology” person and don’t believe that we inherit all the blessings (minus the curses) of the Children of Israel, I believe in a New Covenant where the Christians are grafted in to the original branch, but not at the expense of the root. Jesus came to be the Messiah first to the Jews and then to the Gentiles (or Nations) thereafter.

Much like Haman wishing to destroy Israel, we have a destroyer also. Our sin, should we not accept Christ as our Saviour will keep us out of heaven. We have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23) God is a merciful and gracious God that does not desire that any should perish. (2 Peter 3:9)

Jesus came and died on the cross (John 3:16-17) for us all to deliver us from our state of being without (or separation) from God. We have a new identity, we are a new creation, and we have a new destination when we become post humus in this life. We were born into sin and now have a new life in Christ Jesus. That is cause for celebration indeed.

I have a great love for all peoples, Jews, Greek, Arab, whoever and wish to see you all come to faith in Christ Jesus. As you celebrate one temporary deliverance I pray that you contemplate a far reaching deliverance.

To my Jewish friends and friends of Israel I wish you a happy Purim

God bless you one and all and TGBTG
TTE