Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Learn the Bible in 24 Hours – Hour 10 – Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther

Post-Exile History

Another terrific history lesson awaits the student this week!  This lesson ties together the book of Daniel to Ezra and the rebuilding of the temple, Esther and the paving of the way to the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem by Nehemiah (a study of which I just began with Kelly Minter – I can’t wait to share my thoughts with you on that study!).  The time line works like this:  in 538 B.C., 49,697 Jews return to Jerusalem under Zerubbabel to rebuild the Temple;  in 515 B.C., the Temple is finally rebuilt and the events of Esther take place;  in 458 B.C., Ezra returns with 2,000 more Jews;  in 445 B.C., Nehemiah returns to Jerusalem to rebuild her walls.

So, on 12 October 539 B.C., Cyrus the Great captured Babylon WITHOUT A BATTLE.  He is met by an elderly Daniel, who produces a scroll (Isaiah 44 & 45) and shows Cyrus his own name penned in scripture 150 years before his birth.  This impresses Cyrus and he releases the Jews to return to Jerusalem to rebuild the Temple.  He also returns the Temple articles that Babylon plundered.  A little less than 50,000 Jews responded to the offer in 538 B.C. and returned to Jerusalem under Zerubbabel.  Others had become so integrated into the culture, they had no desire to go back.

Remember the construction of the Temple?  We touched on it in Hour 7:  The Monarchy.  Each part of the Temple construct corresponds with an aspect of human construct.  The Outer Court corresponds to the Body, the Inner Court to the Soul, the Porch to the Willpower, the Holy Place to the Heart and the Holy of Holies to the Spirit.  We also discussed this very briefly in the Introductory Hours when Dr. Missler mentioned the hardware and software architecture of humans.  Think about this idea when you think about rebuilding the temple.  What parts of your own temple need to be rebuilt?

Moving on to Esther, since its events occurred next sequentially, Dr. Missler painted a frightening portrait of King Xerxes I, who would take Esther to be his Queen as this dramatic tale unfolds.  The conflict between Mordecai the Jew (Esther’s cousin) and Haman the Agagite appears to be representative of the struggle between the Spirit and the Flesh.  This book has far-reaching ties in Scripture back to the times of Saul and David.  Esther remains one of my favorite books to study.  And Dr. Missler revealed several surprises in the book that I had not studied before!

Finally, Dr. Missler discusses the book of Nehemiah and the rebuilding of the city of Jerusalem.  A bit more history is revealed as events surrounding Antiochus IV are disclosed, including his slaughter of a sow on the Temple altar and erecting an idol to Zeus in the Holy of Holies.  This led us to several passages in Matthew 24 where Jesus talks about the signs of the end times and the Abomination of Desolation and reveals the book of Daniel as the key to end times prophecy.  The most memorable statement of the lesson was made in these moments while discussing the Abomination of Desolation, which is a desecration of the Temple like what was performed by Antiochus IV.  At the beginning of Matthew 24:15, it says, “So when you see standing in the holy place 'the abomination that causes desolation,' spoken of through the prophet Daniel…”  Dr. Missler presented a good point.  He asked the question: how would they see it?  Only the priest would enter the Holy Place.  And the High Priest only entered the Holy of Holies once a year!  Then he revealed how we would all see:  on CNN!  And Fox News and the internet and probably every broadcast television station!  This will be a political event!  Keep your eyes open.  Wow, my heart is beating like crazy as I type!

I wish Chuck MIssler had been my history teacher growing up!  I would’ve aced that class and I’d have a great foundation for the Bible study I do today.

Alright, we have some homework for next time:  Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel

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