Yesterday we heard how Ezra introduced himself. Note that he spoke of himself in the 3rd person, but finally resorted to ‘I’. King Artaxerxes was certainly impressed by Ezra! Ezra was given everything he could have wanted, guaranteeing full government support of the temple worship in every way. Note how methodical Ezra was, making sure that he took Levites and temple servants along. His total party must have been at least 1,000 men. So with women and children, it would have been quite a group. And evidently others were coming back separately as well.
Having eyes to see and ears to hear is a theme in Isaiah, and remember what Jesus always said, “You got ears, don’t ya? Well then use them!” (My translation.) So this part of yesterday’s reading bears repeating:
Is. 32:1 NLT Look, a righteous king is coming!
And honest princes will rule under him.
2 Each one will be like a shelter from the wind
and a refuge from the storm,
like streams of water in the desert
and the shadow of a great rock in a parched land.
3 Then everyone who has eyes will be able to see the truth,
and everyone who has ears will be able to hear it.
Remember how Paul in 2nd Corinthians showed clearly that he loved the Corinthian believers. Now in Philippians, written around the year 61 when Paul was under house arrest in Rome, we have a love letter to the Philippian church. However unlike 2nd Corinthians, in this letter there is no scolding. This is a prison letter. Paul has suffered so much! Yet there is such a tone of joy in this letter from beginning to end. One is reminded that it was in Philippi where Paul and Silas were unjustly beaten and put in the lowest dungeon, but were singing praises in the middle of the night.
This letter includes Paul’s wonderful poem of praise about the humility of Christ and the final outcome of his self-sacrifice. And Paul exhorts us to imitate Christ in his humility. This also means that we should forgive one another and strive for unity. Note the example of the Euodia and Syntyche in chapter 4. And this letter of Philippians holds some of the most precious promises in Scripture. Let’s find them and claim them!
GNT Translation notes:
Php. 1:15 Of course [there are some people who//some of them] preach Christ because they are jealous and quarrelsome, but others from genuine good will.
16 [Those in that last group//These] do so from love, because they know that God has given me the work of defending the gospel.
17 The others[, however,] do not proclaim Christ sincerely, but from a spirit of selfish ambition; they think that they will make more trouble for me while I am in prison.
25 I am sure of this, and so I know that I will stay. I will stay on with you all, to add to your progress and joy in [fully believing in Christ//the faith],
27 Now, the important thing is that your way of life should be as the gospel of Christ requires, so that, whether or not I am able to go and see you, I will hear that you are standing firm with one common purpose and that with only one desire you are fighting together for [belief in the gospel of Christ//the faith of the gospel].
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