- Though the Temple had been rebuilt and the city walls, repaired, Jerusalem remained unattractive to dwell in (cf. 2:3, 17), and the bulk of the people preferred to live in the country. By what two methods (verses 1, 2) were more inhabitants for the city secured? Are you willing to volunteers to serve in the place of greatness need? Cf. Is. 6:8
- In verses 3-24 is given a list of those who dwelt in Jerusalem, in the following categories: (a) heads of families of the tribe of Judah (4-6); (b) of the tribe of Benjamin (7-9); (c) officials of the Temple-priests (10-14), Levites (15-19), other attendants, including singers (20-24). Try to picture the life of the city. Observe the prominence given to the house of God and its worship. Others helped in other ways, and some of them are described as ‘valiant’ or ‘mighty men of part in the community to which you belong, helping it to become strong? Cf. Ec. 9:10a; 1 Cor. 15:58.
19 August, 2017
Study 12 From the Book of Nehemiah is: Nehemiah 11
18 August, 2017
Study 11 From the Book of Nehemiah is: Nehemiah 9: 38 - 10: 39
1. Make a list of the seven specific ordinances included in the general covenant to walk in God’s law(10:28) and not neglect the house of God (10:39).
2. What did the people agree (a) to give up, and (b) to give, that they might ‘observe and do all the commandments of the Lord’? What does this teach us about the meaning of whole-hearted consecration? Cf. 2 Cor. 6:14-7; Pr. 3: 9, 10; Mal. 3:10; 1 Cor. 16:1, 2.
1. 10:29. ‘Enter into a curse and an oath’: ie., pledged themselves by an oath, invoking divine vengeance upon themselves, if they failed to observe it.
2. Verse 31b. Cf. Ex. 23:10, 11; Dt. 15:1-3.
3. Verses 35-39 give a general summary of such laws as Ex. 23:19 and Nu. 18:8-32.
17 August, 2017
Study 10 From the Book of Nehemiah is: Nehemiah 9:22-37
1. Analyze this summary (verses 6:37) of the history of God’s people. What may we learn here about the heart of God, and the heart of man?
2. The Jews had learnt by bitter experience that disobedience brings penalty. Yet had God acted only in punishment? Cf. Ps. 130:3, 4. What may we learn from this chapter about the principles of God’s action towards His people when they sin? Cf. also Phil. 1:6; 2 Jn. 8.
16 August, 2017
Study 9 From the Book of Nehemiah is: Nehemiah 9:1-21
1. What marks do you find here of a genuine repentance? Cf. 2 Cor. 7:10, 11.
2. Meditate upon God’s great kindness and many mercies, in spite of great provocation, as seen in this passage. How much cause have you for similar recollections, repentance and gratitude to God?
15 August, 2017
Study 8 From the Book of Nehemiah is: Nehemiah 8
1. Chapters 8, 9 and 10 describe a remarkable revival. What was its first manifestation, and what further characteristics developed from this?
2. Consider how great a change of heart had taken place since before the exile. Cf. Je. 11:6-8; 32:36-40; Ne. 1:5-11. How are these verses an illustration of Ps. 119:71 and Heb. 12:11
2. Verse 10. ‘Send portions…’: cf. Dt. 16:11, 14; Est. 9:19-22.
1. Verse 17. The Feast of Tabernacles had been observed (see, e.g., 2 Ch.8:13), but not, it seems, the making of booths.
14 August, 2017
Study 7 From the Book of Nehemiah is: Nehemiah 7
1. What further steps did Nehemiah take in ensuring an orderly life in Jerusalem? Why was Hananiah put in charge of Jerusalem? Remembering that you may be called to responsibility in your work for God, what are you doing to develop these same qualities
2. What makes a register of names so important? See verses 64, 65; and cf. Rev.20:15; 21:27; Lk. 10:20.
1. Verse 2. The ‘he’ refers to Hananiah. Possibly the appointment of two men in charge of the city means, as in 3:9, 12, that each was ruler of half the district of Jerusalem.
2. Verses 64, 65; cf. Ezr.2:62, 63. The need was for a priest able to obtain guidance to decide whether these men were entitled to enjoy priviledges as priests or not. For an example of the way in which Urim and Thumim were used, see 1 Sam. 14:41.
13 August, 2017
Study 6 From the Book of Nehemiah is: Nehemiah 6
1. Nehemiah’s enemies now tried intrigue. The proposal to confer together is often an attractive one. What made Nehemiah persistently refuse it? Contrast Eve’s folly in discussing the question raised by the serpent (Gn. 3:1-5). Do you ever parley with questions that should never be allowed consideration?
2. What were the special subtleties of the attempts to ensnare Nehemiah? Notice how Nehemiah’s singleness of purpose and loyalty to God were as a shield about him. What may we learn from this?
Note. Verse 5. ‘An open letter’: so that others besides Nehemiah might see its contents.
12 August, 2017
Study 5 From the Book of Nehemiah is: Nehemiah 5
1. What social evil did Nehemiah put right (see verses 1-13)? And how did he do it?
2. What features of his conduct made Nehemiah an excellent governor? Are we developing similar characteristics?
3. What considerations ought to keep God’s people from doing some things which others do as a matter of course? Cf. verse15 and 1 Cor. 8:13.
Note. Verse 1-5. The wealthier Jews were evidently demanding repayment at high interest of money lent by them to their poorer brethren, and were seizing the lands and property, and even the persons of the debtors whenever their demands were not met.
11 August, 2017
Study 4 From the Book of Nehemiah is: Nehemiah 4
1. The successful progress of the work brought increasing opposition. Picture the Characters concerned in the various scenes. What kinds of discouragement did Nehemiah meet, and how did he deal with each?
2. In verses 19-23 notice how Nehemiah shared in the hard work. Where did he plan to be if fighting broke out? What does this teach us about leadership?
10 August, 2017
Study 3 From the Book of Nehemiah is: Nehemiah 3
Contrast the busy scenes of this chapter with the picture of the walls and gates lying desolate, broken and burned, in 2:13, 14. What brought about the change? (Examine, if possible, a plan of the city as this time.)
- Note how all classes in the city took part in the work, each being assigned his special place and task. What may we learn from this chapter of the value of (a) thorough organization, and (b) willing co-operation on the part of all?
- Verse 5. The word ‘Lord’ should probably be ‘lord’, the reference being to Nehemiah. For the metaphor see Je. 27:12.
- The century Bible divides the chapter as follows: Verses 1-5, the north and north – west wall; verses 6-12, the west, the west wall; verses 13, 14, the south wall and gates; verses 15-27, the south-east wall and gates; verses 28-32, the north-east wall.
09 August, 2017
Study 2 From the Book of Nehemiah is: Nehemiah 2
1. What is the order of events following Nehemiah’s prayer? What difficulty did he have to face at each stage?
2. What light does the chapter throw on Nehemiah’s secret communion with God? What grounds was he confident that God would prosper him in his work? Are such communion and confidence lacking in your life?
1. Verse 3. Nehemiah had probably broken court etiquette in letting his grief be seen in the king’s presence.
2. Verse 10. ‘Sanballat’: an important official, probably governor of Samaria. Tobiah may have been his secretary.
08 August, 2017
Study 1 From the Book of Nehemiah is: Nehemiah 1
1. How long did Nehemiah brood over the news about Jerusalem before he took action (see Note 1 below)? Note the sequence of events---one which is often seen when God calls His servants to a particular task.
2. What can we learn from the example of Nehemiah’s prayer? Note his attitude, his knowledge of the Scriptures, his grounds for expecting prayer to be answered. Dt. 7: 9-12; 29; 30 provide a background to the prayer.
1. Verse 1. The month Chislev correspond to our November-December, and Nisan (2:1) to our March-April.
2. Verse 11. ‘Cupbearer’: a high official, who had the duty of tasting wine before it was handed to the king, lets it should have been poisoned.
07 August, 2017
Study 7 From the Book of Ezra is: Ezra 9 and 10
With this study we end the book of Ezra and will delve into Nehemiah
1. For the background to this incident see Dt. 7:1-4. In what ways had the people of God sinned? In what ways is it possible for Christians to commit similar sin today?
2. What can we learn from this chapter about (a) the responsibilities of leadership; (b) prayer and confession; (c) God’s faithfulness; (d) the cost of repenting?
06 August, 2017
Study 6 From the Book of Ezra is: Ezra 8
1. How many males, all told, were with Ezra? These with women and children (verse 21), would make a large company. They had also their goods and provision for the way, many precious vessels and much silver and gold. The journey was long (7:9) and dangerous (8:31). Would it have been wrong for Ezra to ask the king for an escort? Cf. Ne. 2:9. Why did he not do so? Are we as careful as he to live out what we profess?
2. From Ezra’s actions before setting out, what may we learn regrading undertaking work for God? See especially verses 15-20, 21-23, 24-30, 33-35, 36; and contrast Jos. 9: 14; Is. 31:1; Je. 48:10a; Mt. 25:3.
05 August, 2017
Study 5 From the Book of Ezra is: Ezra 7
This chapter begins the second period covered by this book (see introduction). Some sixty years have elapsed since the end of chapter 6.
1. What do we learn about Ezra from this chapter? Note particularly the order of the aims in verse 10, and consider the evidence which shows that he accomplished these aims. Have you any similar aims?
2. What called forth the doxology in verses 27 and 28? Cf. 2 Cor. 3:5.
04 August, 2017
Study 4 From the Book of Ezra is: Ezra 5 and 6
1. When the work of rebuilding the Temple had ceased for many years (4:24), by what various means did God cause it to begin again and bring about the fulfillment of His purpose? How does dedication strengthen faith and give guidance for prayer? Cf. Gn. 50:20; Pr. 21:1; Hg. 1: 14; 1 Tim. 2:2.
2. Note the joy, dedication and worship when the task was completed (6:16-22). Cf. Jn. 17:4; Acts 14:26; 20:24; Col. 4:17; 2 Tim. 4:7; Rev. 3:2.
03 August, 2017
Study 3 From the Book of Ezra is: Ezra 4
1. Is not co-operation with others in work for God most desirable? Why then did the Jews refuse to co-operate with those who claimed to share their faith and who offered to help them to achiever their great spiritual objective? Cf. 2 Ki. 17:24, 32, 33. See also Mt. 7:15; and contrast 3 Jn. 8 with 2 Jn. 11.
2. What was the reaction of the frustrated adversaries? Cf. Am. 7:10; Lk. 23:2; Acts 17:7 for similar incidents. What price did Zerubbabel and his fellow-Jews have to pay for their faithfulness? Do you know of any modern parallels? Note Eph. 6:18-20.
1. Verses 1-3. ‘The proposal to unite in building the temple was a political move; for in old -world ideas, co-operation in temple-building was incorporation in national unity. The calculation, no doubt, was that if the returning exiles could be united with the much more numerous Samaritans, they would soon be absorbed in them’
2. Verse 5. ‘Until the reign of Darius’: (cf. verse 24. It was a period of a bout sixteen years.)
3. Verse 6:24. Ahasuerus and Artaxerxes are kings who succeeded Darius (cf.7:1). This indicates that these verses refer to a later period than do verses 1-5, and this is confirmed by the fact that the letters of verses 11-16 and 17-22 concern the rebuilding of the city of Jerusalem, not of the Temple. Some think the passage belongs chronologically to the time between Ezr. 10 and Ne. 1.
02 August, 2017
Study 2 From the Book of Ezra is: Ezra 3
1. As background to verses 1-6, see Lv. 23:23-43. What were the motives and purposes in the hearts of the returned exiles at this time?
2. In what further ways was the Lord put central in this settling down period? Consider what challenge this study presents to you personally.
01 August, 2017
Study 1 From the Book of Ezra is: Ezra 1 and 2
1. First, what definite acts of God can be seen in bringing about this return to Jerusalem? With 1:1, cf. Je 29:10. Then fill in the outline given here, by trying to imagine the feelings and actions of the people concerned. Note, e.g., 1:5, 6; 1:7-11; the links with specific ‘home towns’ and positions; the claims in 2:59-63; the scene in 2:64-67; the generosity and contentment of 2:68-70.
2. In the light of these two chapters meditate on Jos. 23:14.
31 July, 2017
Study From the Book of Ezra & Nehemiah is: Ezra & Nehemiah
The books of Ezra and Nehemiah continue the history of the Israelites from the point reached at the end of 2 Chronicles. The two books are closely linked together and cover between them a space of about one hundred years, from the first year of the reign of Cyrus, king of Persia (538 BC), to soon after the thirty-second year of Artaxerxes (432 BC). Other books of Scripture belonging to this period are Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi and Ester.
The events recorded in the books of Ezra and Nehemiah gather round three periods, as follows:
First Period (Ezr. 1-6, from the first return of exiles under Zerubbabel (or Sheshbazzar) and Jeshua the high priest (536 BC) to the completion of the Temple (515 BC). It is to be noted that, thought these events are recorded in the book of Ezra, they occurred more than sixty years before Ezra himself appeared on the scene.
Second Period (Ezr. 7-10), describing the return of a second large company of exiles under Ezra, with some account of Ezra’s ministry in Jerusalem (458 BC).
Third Period (Ne. 1-13), describing the arrival of Nehemiah as governor (444 BC), and his building of the city walls, together with his joint activity with Ezra.
Ezra and Nehemiah were men raised up of God to render invaluable service at a critical time in Israel’s history. Ezra was a priest of house of Aaron, a man of outstanding piety, a diligent student and capable teacher of the law of God, and a zealous reformer. Nehemiah was a public servant and a true patriot, who devoted himself to the improvement of the moral and material condition of his country. He combined watchfulness with prayerfulness, and energetic activity with conscious dependence upon God. While both men rendered notable service, the work of Ezra was the more enduring, for he gave to the law of God a place of supreme authority in the life of the people.
30 July, 2017
Study 1 From the Book of Philemon is: Philemon
THIS IS THE ONLY STUDY OF THE BOOK OF PHILEMON
1. What light does this letter throw upon Paul himself? Is he putting into practice Col. 3:12-14? Consider closely the appeal he makes and the arguments by which he reinforces it.
2. What happened to Onesimus (Whose name means ‘useful’ or ‘profitable’) to make him start living up to his name? Has acceptance of the Christian faith made us useful (a) to the person who led us to Christ; (b) to those who are our employers, or in a comparable position?
29 July, 2017
Study 0 From the Book of Philemon is: The Introduction of the book of Philemon
The epistle to Philemon contains no systematic presentation of doctrine. It has one avowed purpose—to ask Philemon to receive back a runaway slave who had been in his service and had absconded with his money. The man had come into contact with Paul in Rome and had been converted and transformed into a new man. It was not easy for Paul to let him go; it was harder still for Onesimus to face his former master. But it was hardest of all for Philemon to take him back. These men were Christians, however, and that made all the difference. The letter is one of great charm, tact, graciousness and love, and provides and unforgettable picture of Christianity in action. Though no place-names are mentioned, it is clear that the letter was written at the same time as that to the Colossians.
28 July, 2017
Study 6 From the Book of Colossians is: Colossians 3:18 - 4:18
With this lesson we end the short book of Colossians to jump to the book of Philemon
1. 3:18 – 4:1. Observe how, in giving directions about the life of a Christian household, Paul urges ‘upon each party its own duties and the other’s rights’. What overriding concerns should influence all alike, and why?
2. 4:2-6. List the activities here demanded as essential (a) to prayer, and (b) to our relations with non -Christians. In my own practice of Christian self-discipline, to which of these points do I need to give more attentions? Can I learn from verses 3, 4, 12, how to pray for others?
Note. 3: 21. “Provoke” : by excessive fault-finding and little or no praise.
27 July, 2017
Study 5 From the Book of Colossians is: Colossians 3:1-17
1. Verses 1:11. What results, (a) positive and (b) negative, should follow from being ‘raised with Christ’; in other words, what should the experience make us (a) do, and (b) stop doing?
2. Verses 12-17. Make a list from these verses of the divinely intended characteristics of active Christian living; and prayerfully examine your own living in the light of these standards.
26 July, 2017
Study 4 From the Book of Colossians is: Colossians 2:8-23
1. What four defects does Paul find in the false teaching (verse 8)? In what ways does he then set forth Christ as the one absolutely sufficient Saviour (verses 9:15)? List the treasures and the benefits which are ours in Him.
2. Verses 16-23. It is quite clear that the false teachers stressed (a) the observance of holy days, (b) the worship of angels, and (c) ascetic practices. On what grounds does the apostle show all these to be mistaken, useless and hurtful as a means of salvation?
3. Verses 11-15. How is he way in which Christians have been ‘circumcised’ from the rite practised by the Jews? By what ceremony has Jewish circumcision been replaced for Christians? How is its symbolism related to the death and resurrection of Christ? Cf. Rom. 6:1-14.
Note. Verses 11, 12. ‘By putting off the body of Flesh’: the false teachers advocated the rite of circumcision as a means of purification. Paul’s answer is that in the believer’s identification with Christ in His death and resurrection the whole body which has been governed by fleshly desires is put off, and a new man emerges. This far more than fulfills all that the rite of circumcision signified.
25 July, 2017
Study 3 From the Book of Colossians is: Colossians 1:24 – 2:7
1. In 1:24-29 what does Paul say about (a) his sufferings (cf. Acts 9: 15, 16); (b) his commission; (c) his theme, and (d) the method aim and inspiration of His ministry?
2. 2:1-7. What is essential if Christians are to stand firm in the faith and not be misled? How may they gain encouragement to continue and become more fully established? Do you (a) covet such progress for yourself (b) pray like this for others?
1. 1:28. The false teaching suggested that full participation in knowledge and consequent maturity was restricted to a select few. The gospel makes it possible ‘in Christ’ for all alike –for ‘every man’.
2. 1:29; 2:1. ‘Striving’: a metaphor from the Greek games a word used again in 4:12. It describes here earnest conflict, straining every nerve, in prayer.
24 July, 2017
Study 2 From the Book of Colossians is: Colossians 1:15-23
1. What is revealed in verses 15-20 concerning our Lord’s relation to God, to creation, and to the church? What practical effects should this revelation have on our Christian faith and life?
2. Verses 21-23. From what condition at what cost, and with what goal in view has Christ rescued us? What is required of those who desire fully to enjoy these benefits.
23 July, 2017
Study 1 From the Book of Colossians is: Colossians 1:1-14
1. Of what blessings which God has double ours in Christ does the gospel speak? What results did this gospel produce in the experience of the Colossians who heard it? Have I made as much progress as they had?
2. In his prayer for the Colossians, for what further progress in the things of Christ does the apostle ask? Carefully note the items in Paul’s prayer. In which of these directions do I most desire or need myself to make progress?