Blessed Are the Faithful

Thoughts About What We’re Reading!

This week, we turn our attention to the book of Ezra

As we start to come to the close of our Old Testament reading, it is important to note the last few books cover a relatively short time span in the history of Israel. 

As we read through Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther, it is better to read them with the understanding of how they work together. We know from these books there were at least three returns from Babylon to the land of Israel.

In the book of Ezra, the first six chapters tell the story of the first return of the Jews from captivity led by Zerubbabel – with the primary focus on the rebuilding of the temple.

Ezra chapters 7-10, record events 60 years later when Ezra leads a second group of exiles back to Jerusalem. 

The book of Esther takes place in the period between chapters 6 and 7 of Ezra.

The third return from Babylon is recorded in the book of Nehemiah.

I will write something on the books of Esther and Nehemiah in the weeks to come. 

The events described in Ezra are set in Jerusalem and the nearby surrounding area. This reminds us that the returning exiles were only able to populate a tiny portion of their former homeland. 

The mighty, independent nation of Israel was no more.

In Ezra, we witness the rebuilding of the temple, and see how the returning tribes worked together, sharing common struggles. 

Sixty years go by, spiritual apathy sets in, and it seems we have a stop work order (my words) on the surrounding walls of Jerusalem. Ezra returns a second time with two thousand folks to infuse some energy and we have a spiritual revival!

By the end of the book, we find that Israel has renewed its covenant with God and is acting accordingly.

The Gospel Transformation Bible has this to say about the Book Of Ezra: 

“God’s redemptive plan looms large here, as we see him preserving the people to whom he has given his covenant promises—through Abraham (Gen. 12:1–3) and David (2 Sam. 7:12–17). Those promises were carried through generations of Abraham’s seed and channeled through the tribe of Judah (see Ezra 1:5) until they ultimately culminated in Christ. Ezra shows the merciful continuity of God’s covenant, even for a sinful people punished by exile for their ugly rebellion against God. God’s promises will not fail; they are even more solid and beautiful than all the gold and silver vessels produced here as glorious evidence.”

Once more we are reminded that God keeps His promises and continues to bless those who are faithful to Him. 

Until next time… keep reading!

Jim

OT Reading – January 22

Ezra 4-6

Ezra 4

Adversaries Hinder the Work

4 Now when the enemies of Judah and Benjamin heard that the people of the exile were building a temple to the Lord God of Israel, they approached Zerubbabel and the heads of fathers’ households, and said to them, “Let us build with you, for we, like you, seek your God; and we have been sacrificing to Him since the days of Esarhaddon king of Assyria, who brought us up here.” But Zerubbabel and Jeshua and the rest of the heads of fathers’ households of Israel said to them, “You have nothing in common with us in building a house to our God; but we ourselves will together build to the Lord God of Israel,as King Cyrus, the king of Persia has commanded us.”

Then the people of the land discouraged the people of Judah, and frightened them from building, and hired counselors against them to frustrate their counsel all the days of Cyrus king of Persia, even until the reign of Darius king of Persia.

Now in the reign of Ahasuerus, in the beginning of his reign, they wrote an accusation against the inhabitants of Judah and Jerusalem.

And in the days of Artaxerxes, Bishlam, Mithredath, Tabeel and the rest of his colleagues wrote to Artaxerxes king of Persia; and the text of the letter was written in Aramaic and translated from Aramaic.

The Letter to King Artaxerxes

Rehum the commander and Shimshai the scribe wrote a letter against Jerusalem to King Artaxerxes, as follows— then wrote Rehum the commander and Shimshai the scribe and the rest of their colleagues, the judges and the lesser governors, the officials, the secretaries, the men of Erech, the Babylonians, the men of Susa, that is, the Elamites, 10 and the rest of the nations which the great and honorable Osnappar deported and settled in the city of Samaria, and in the rest of the region beyond the River. Now 11 this is the copy of the letter which they sent to him:

“To King Artaxerxes: Your servants, the men in the region beyond the River, and now 12 let it be known to the king that the Jews who came up from you have come to us at Jerusalem; they are rebuilding the rebellious and evil city and are finishing the walls and repairing the foundations. 13 Now let it be known to the king, that if that city is rebuilt and the walls are finished, they will not pay tribute, custom or toll, and it will damage the revenue of the kings. 14 Now because we are in the service of the palace, and it is not fitting for us to see the king’s dishonor, therefore we have sent and informed the king, 15 so that a search may be made in the record books of your fathers. And you will discover in the record books and learn that that city is a rebellious city and damaging to kings and provinces, and that they have incited revolt within it in past days; therefore that city was laid waste. 16 We inform the king that if that city is rebuilt and the walls finished, as a result you will have no possession in the province beyond the River.”

The King Replies and Work Stops

17 Then the king sent an answer to Rehum the commander, to Shimshai the scribe, and to the rest of their colleagues who live in Samaria and in the rest of the provinces beyond the River: “Peace. And now 18 the document which you sent to us has been translated and read before me. 19 A decree has been issued by me, and a search has been made and it has been discovered that that city has risen up against the kings in past days, that rebellion and revolt have been perpetrated in it, 20 that mighty kings have ruled over Jerusalem, governing all the provinces beyond the River, and that tribute, custom and toll were paid to them. 21 So, now issue a decree to make these men stop work, that this city may not be rebuilt until a decree is issued by me. 22 Beware of being negligent in carrying out this matter; why should damage increase to the detriment of the kings?”

23 Then as soon as the copy of King Artaxerxes’ document was read before Rehum and Shimshai the scribe and their colleagues, they went in haste to Jerusalem to the Jews and stopped them by force of arms.

24 Then work on the house of God in Jerusalem ceased, and it was stopped until the second year of the reign of Darius king of Persia.

 

Ezra 5

Temple Work Resumed

5 When the prophets, Haggai the prophet and Zechariah the son of Iddo, prophesied to the Jews who were in Judah and Jerusalem in the name of the God of Israel, who was over them, then Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel and Jeshua the son of Jozadak arose and began to rebuild the house of God which is in Jerusalem; and the prophets of God were with them supporting them.

At that time Tattenai, the governor of the province beyond the River, and Shethar-bozenai and their colleagues came to them and spoke to them thus, “Who issued you a decree to rebuild this temple and to finish this structure?” Then we told them accordingly what the names of the men were who were reconstructing this building. But the eye of their God was on the elders of the Jews, and they did not stop them until a report could come to Darius, and then a written reply be returned concerning it.

Adversaries Write to Darius

This is the copy of the letter which Tattenai, the governor of the province beyond the River, and Shethar-bozenai and his colleagues the officials, who were beyond the River, sent to Darius the king. They sent a report to him in which it was written thus: “To Darius the king, all peace. Let it be known to the king that we have gone to the province of Judah, to the house of the great God, which is being built with huge stones, and beams are being laid in the walls; and this work is going on with great care and is succeeding in their hands. Then we asked those elders and said to them thus, ‘Who issued you a decree to rebuild this temple and to finish this structure?’ 10 We also asked them their names so as to inform you, and that we might write down the names of the men who were at their head. 11 Thus they answered us, saying, ‘We are the servants of the God of heaven and earth and are rebuilding the temple that was built many years ago, which a great king of Israel built and finished. 12 But because our fathers had provoked the God of heaven to wrath, He gave them into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, the Chaldean, who destroyed this temple and deported the people to Babylon. 13 However, in the first year of Cyrus king of Babylon, King Cyrus issued a decree to rebuild this house of God. 14 Also the gold and silver utensils of the house of God which Nebuchadnezzar had taken from the temple in Jerusalem, and brought them to the temple of Babylon, these King Cyrus took from the temple of Babylon and they were given to one whose name was Sheshbazzar, whom he had appointed governor. 15 He said to him, “Take these utensils, go and deposit them in the temple in Jerusalem and let the house of God be rebuilt in its place.” 16 Then that Sheshbazzar came and laid the foundations of the house of God in Jerusalem; and from then until now it has been under construction and it is not yet completed.’ 17 “Now if it pleases the king, let a search be conducted in the king’s treasure house, which is there in Babylon, if it be that a decree was issued by King Cyrus to rebuild this house of God at Jerusalem; and let the king send to us his decision concerning this matter.”

 

Ezra 6

Darius Finds Cyrus’s Decree

6 Then King Darius issued a decree, and search was made in the archives, where the treasures were stored in Babylon. In Ecbatana in the fortress, which is in the province of Media, a scroll was found and there was written in it as follows: “Memorandum— In the first year of King Cyrus, Cyrus the king issued a decree: ‘Concerning the house of God at Jerusalem, let the temple, the place where sacrifices are offered, be rebuilt and let its foundations be retained, its height being 60 cubits and its width 60 cubits; with three layers of huge stones and one layer of timbers. And let the cost be paid from the royal treasury. Also let the gold and silver utensils of the house of God, which Nebuchadnezzar took from the temple in Jerusalem and brought to Babylon, be returned and brought to their places in the temple in Jerusalem; and you shall put them in the house of God.’

“Now therefore, Tattenai, governor of the province beyond the River, Shethar-bozenai and your colleagues, the officials of the provinces beyond the River, keep away from there. Leave this work on the house of God alone; let the governor of the Jews and the elders of the Jews rebuild this house of God on its site. Moreover, I issue a decree concerning what you are to do for these elders of Judah in the rebuilding of this house of God: the full cost is to be paid to these people from the royal treasury out of the taxes of the provinces beyond the River, and that without delay. Whatever is needed, both young bulls, rams, and lambs for a burnt offering to the God of heaven, and wheat, salt, wine and anointing oil, as the priests in Jerusalem request, it is to be given to them daily without fail,10 that they may offer acceptable sacrifices to the God of heaven and pray for the life of the king and his sons. 11 And I issued a decree that any man who violates this edict, a timber shall be drawn from his house and he shall be impaled on it and his house shall be made a refuse heap on account of this. 12 May the God who has caused His name to dwell there overthrow any king or people who attempts to change it, so as to destroy this house of God in Jerusalem. I, Darius, have issued this decree, let it be carried out with all diligence!”

The Temple Completed and Dedicated

13 Then Tattenai, the governor of the province beyond the River, Shethar-bozenai and their colleagues carried out the decree with all diligence, just as King Darius had sent. 14 And the elders of the Jews were successful in building through the prophesying of Haggai the prophet and Zechariah the son of Iddo. And they finished building according to the command of the God of Israel and the decree of Cyrus, Darius, and Artaxerxes king of Persia. 15 This temple was completed on the third day of the month Adar; it was the sixth year of the reign of King Darius.

16 And the sons of Israel, the priests, the Levites and the rest of the exiles, celebrated the dedication of this house of God with joy. 17 They offered for the dedication of this temple of God 100 bulls, 200 rams, 400 lambs, and as a sin offering for all Israel 12 male goats, corresponding to the number of the tribes of Israel. 18 Then they appointed the priests totheir divisions and the Levites in their orders for the service of God in Jerusalem, as it is written in the book of Moses.

The Passover Observed

19 The exiles observed the Passover on the fourteenth of the first month. 20 For the priests and the Levites had purified themselves together; all of them were pure. Then they slaughtered the Passover lamb for all the exiles, both for their brothers the priests and for themselves. 21 The sons of Israel who returned from exile and all those who had separated themselves from the impurity of the nations of the land to join them, to seek the Lord God of Israel, ate the Passover22 And they observed the Feast of Unleavened Bread seven days with joy, for the Lord had caused them to rejoice, and had turned the heart of the king of Assyria toward them to encourage them in the work of the house of God, the God of Israel.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB © The Lockman Foundation (www.lockman.org)

OT Reading – January 21

Ezra 1-3

Ezra 1

Cyrus’s Proclamation

1 Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, in order to fulfill the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah, the Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, so that he sent a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and also put it in writing, saying:

“Thus says Cyrus king of Persia, ‘The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth and He has appointed me to build Him a house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Whoever there is among you of all His people, may his God be with him! Let him go up to Jerusalem which is in Judah and rebuild the house of the Lord, the God of Israel; He is the God who is in Jerusalem. Every survivor, at whatever place he may live, let the men of that place support him with silver and gold, with goods and cattle, together with a freewill offering for the house of God which is in Jerusalem.’”

Holy Vessels Restored

Then the heads of fathers’ households of Judah and Benjamin and the priests and the Levites arose, even everyone whose spirit God had stirred to go up and rebuild the house of the Lord which is in Jerusalem. All those about them encouraged them with articles of silver, with gold, with goods, with cattle and with valuables, aside from all that was given as a freewill offering. Also King Cyrus brought out the articles of the house of the Lord,which Nebuchadnezzar had carried away from Jerusalem and put in the house of his gods; and Cyrus, king of Persia, had them brought out by the hand of Mithredath the treasurer, and he counted them out to Sheshbazzar, the prince of Judah. Now this was their number: 30 gold dishes, 1,000 silver dishes, 29 duplicates; 10 30 gold bowls, 410 silver bowls of a second kind and 1,000 other articles. 11 All the articles of gold and silver numbered 5,400. Sheshbazzar brought them all up with the exiles who went up from Babylon to Jerusalem.

 

Ezra 2

Number of Those Returning

2 Now these are the people of the province who came up out of the captivity of the exiles whom Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon had carried away to Babylon, and returned to Jerusalem and Judah, each to his city. These came with Zerubbabel, Jeshua, Nehemiah, Seraiah, Reelaiah, Mordecai, Bilshan, Mispar, Bigvai, Rehum and Baanah.

The number of the men of the people of Israel: the sons of Parosh, 2,172; the sons of Shephatiah, 372; the sons of Arah, 775; the sons of Pahath-moab of the sons of Jeshua and Joab, 2,812; the sons of Elam, 1,254; the sons of Zattu, 945; the sons of Zaccai, 760; 10 the sons of Bani, 642; 11 the sons of Bebai, 623; 12 the sons of Azgad, 1,222; 13 the sons of Adonikam, 666; 14 the sons of Bigvai, 2,056; 15 the sons of Adin, 454;16 the sons of Ater of Hezekiah, 98; 17 the sons of Bezai, 323; 18 the sons of Jorah, 112;19 the sons of Hashum, 223; 20 the sons of Gibbar, 95; 21 the men of Bethlehem, 123; 22 the men of Netophah, 56; 23 the men of Anathoth, 128; 24 the sons of Azmaveth, 42; 25 the sons of Kiriath-arim, Chephirah and Beeroth, 743; 26 the sons of Ramah and Geba, 621; 27 the men of Michmas, 122; 28 the men of Bethel and Ai, 223; 29 the sons of Nebo, 52; 30 the sons of Magbish, 156; 31 the sons of the other Elam, 1,254; 32 the sons of Harim, 320; 33 the sons of Lod, Hadid and Ono, 725; 34 the men of Jericho, 345; 35 the sons of Senaah, 3,630.

Priests Returning

36 The priests: the sons of Jedaiah of the house of Jeshua, 973; 37 the sons of Immer, 1,052; 38 the sons of Pashhur, 1,247; 39 the sons of Harim, 1,017.

Levites Returning

40 The Levites: the sons of Jeshua and Kadmiel, of the sons of Hodaviah, 74. 41 The singers: the sons of Asaph, 128. 42 The sons of the gatekeepers: the sons of Shallum, the sons of Ater, the sons of Talmon, the sons of Akkub, the sons of Hatita, the sons of Shobai, in all 139.

43 The temple servants: the sons of Ziha, the sons of Hasupha, the sons of Tabbaoth, 44 the sons of Keros, the sons of Siaha, the sons of Padon, 45 the sons of Lebanah, the sons of Hagabah, the sons of Akkub, 46 the sons of Hagab, the sons of Shalmai, the sons of Hanan, 47 the sons of Giddel, the sons of Gahar, the sons of Reaiah, 48 the sons of Rezin, the sons of Nekoda, the sons of Gazzam, 49 the sons of Uzza, the sons of Paseah, the sons of Besai, 50 the sons of Asnah, the sons of Meunim, the sons of Nephisim, 51 the sons of Bakbuk, the sons of Hakupha, the sons of Harhur, 52 the sons of Bazluth, the sons of Mehida, the sons of Harsha, 53 the sons of Barkos, the sons of Sisera, the sons of Temah, 54 the sons of Neziah, the sons of Hatipha.

55 The sons of Solomon’s servants: the sons of Sotai, the sons of Hassophereth, the sons of Peruda, 56 the sons of Jaalah, the sons of Darkon, the sons of Giddel, 57 the sons of Shephatiah, the sons of Hattil, the sons of Pochereth-hazzebaim, the sons of Ami.

58 All the temple servants and the sons of Solomon’s servants were 392.

59 Now these are those who came up from Tel-melah, Tel-harsha, Cherub, Addan and Immer, but they were not able to give evidence of their fathers’ households and their descendants, whether they were of Israel: 60 the sons of Delaiah, the sons of Tobiah, the sons of Nekoda, 652.

Priests Removed

61 Of the sons of the priests: the sons of Habaiah, the sons of Hakkoz, the sons of Barzillai, who took a wife from the daughters of Barzillai the Gileadite, and he was called by their name. 62 These searched among their ancestral registration, but they could not be located; therefore they were considered unclean and excluded from the priesthood. 63 The governor said to them that they should not eat from the most holy things until a priest stood up with Urim and Thummim.

64 The whole assembly numbered 42,360, 65 besides their male and female servants who numbered 7,337; and they had 200 singing men and women. 66 Their horses were 736; their mules, 245; 67 their camels, 435; their donkeys, 6,720.

68 Some of the heads of fathers’ households, when they arrived at the house of the Lord which is in Jerusalem, offered willingly for the house of God to restore it on its foundation. 69 According to their ability they gave to the treasury for the work 61,000 gold drachmas and 5,000 silver minas and 100 priestly garments.

70 Now the priests and the Levites, some of the people, the singers, the gatekeepers and the temple servants lived in their cities, and all Israel in their cities.

 

Ezra 3

Altar and Sacrifices Restored

3 Now when the seventh month came, and the sons of Israel were in the cities, the people gathered together as one man to Jerusalem. Then Jeshua the son of Jozadak and his brothers the priests, and Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel and his brothers arose and built the altar of the God of Israel to offer burnt offerings on it, as it is written in the law of Moses, the man of God. So they set up the altar on its foundation, for they were terrified because of the peoples of the lands; and they offered burnt offerings on it to the Lord, burnt offerings morning and evening. They celebrated the Feast of Booths, as it is written, and offered the fixed number of burnt offerings daily, according to the ordinance, as each day required; and afterward there was a continual burnt offering, also for the new moons and for all the fixed festivals of the Lord that were consecrated, and from everyone who offered a freewill offering to the Lord. From the first day of the seventh month they began to offer burnt offerings to the Lord, but the foundation of the temple of the Lord had not been laid. Then they gave money to the masons and carpenters, and food, drink and oil to the Sidonians and to the Tyrians, to bring cedar wood from Lebanon to the sea at Joppa, according to the permission they had from Cyrus king of Persia.

Temple Restoration Begun

Now in the second year of their coming to the house of God at Jerusalem in the second month, Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel and Jeshua the son of Jozadak and the rest of their brothers the priests and the Levites, and all who came from the captivity to Jerusalem, began the work and appointed the Levites from twenty years and older to oversee the work of the house of the Lord. Then Jeshua with his sons and brothers stood united with Kadmiel and his sons, the sons of Judah and the sons of Henadad with their sons and brothers the Levites, to oversee the workmen in the temple of God.

10 Now when the builders had laid the foundation of the temple of the Lord, the priests stood in their apparel with trumpets, and the Levites, the sons of Asaph, with cymbals, to praise the Lord according to the directions of King David of Israel. 11 They sang, praising and giving thanks to the Lord, saying, “For He is good, for His lovingkindness is upon Israel forever.” And all the people shouted with a great shout when they praised the Lord because the foundation of the house of the Lord was laid. 12 Yet many of the priests and Levites and heads of fathers’ households, the old men who had seen the first temple, wept with a loud voice when the foundation of this house was laid before their eyes, while many shouted aloud for joy, 13 so that the people could not distinguish the sound of the shout of joy from the sound of the weeping of the people, for the people shouted with a loud shout, and the sound was heard far away.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB © The Lockman Foundation (www.lockman.org)

OT Reading – January 9

Ezekiel 47-48

Ezekiel 47

Water from the Temple

47 Then he brought me back to the door of the house; and behold, water was flowing from under the threshold of the house toward the east, for the house faced east. And the water was flowing down from under, from the right side of the house, from south of the altar. He brought me out by way of the north gate and led me around on the outside to the outer gate by way of the gate that faces east. And behold, water was trickling from the south side.

When the man went out toward the east with a line in his hand, he measured a thousand cubits, and he led me through the water, water reaching the ankles. Again he measured a thousand and led me through the water, water reaching the knees. Again he measured a thousand and led me through the water, water reaching the loins. Again he measured a thousand; and it was a river that I could not ford, for the water had risen, enough water to swim in, a river that could not be forded. He said to me, “Son of man, have you seen this?” Then he brought me back to the bank of the river. Now when I had returned, behold, on the bank of the river there were very many trees on the one side and on the other. Then he said to me, “These waters go out toward the eastern region and go down into the Arabah; then they go toward the sea, being made to flow into the sea, and the waters of the sea become fresh. It will come about that every living creature which swarms in every place where the river goes, will live. And there will be very many fish, for these waters go there and the others become fresh; so everything will live where the river goes. 10 And it will come about that fishermen will stand beside it; from Engedi to Eneglaim there will be a place for the spreading of nets. Their fish will be according to their kinds, like the fish of the Great Sea, very many. 11 But its swamps and marshes will not become fresh; they will be left for salt. 12 By the river on its bank, on one side and on the other, will grow all kinds of trees for food. Their leaves will not wither and their fruit will not fail. They will bear every month because their water flows from the sanctuary, and their fruit will be for food and their leaves for healing.”

Boundaries and Division of the Land

13 Thus says the Lord God, “This shall be the boundary by which you shall divide the land for an inheritance among the twelve tribes of Israel; Joseph shall have two portions. 14 You shall divide it for an inheritance, each one equally with the other; for I swore to give it to your forefathers, and this land shall fall to you as an inheritance.

15 “This shall be the boundary of the land: on the north side, from the Great Sea by the way of Hethlon, to the entrance of Zedad; 16 Hamath, Berothah, Sibraim, which is between the border of Damascus and the border of Hamath; Hazer-hatticon, which is by the border of Hauran. 17 The boundary shall extend from the sea to Hazar-enan at the border of Damascus, and on the north toward the north is the border of Hamath. This is the north side.

18 “The east side, from between Hauran, Damascus, Gilead and the land of Israel, shall be the Jordan; from the north border to the eastern sea you shall measure. This is the east side.

19 “The south side toward the south shall extend from Tamar as far as the waters of Meribath-kadesh, to the brook of Egypt and to the Great Sea. This is the south side toward the south.

20 “The west side shall be the Great Sea, from the south border to a point opposite Lebo-hamath. This is the west side.

21 “So you shall divide this land among yourselves according to the tribes of Israel. 22 You shall divide it by lot for an inheritance among yourselves and among the aliens who stay in your midst, who bring forth sons in your midst. And they shall be to you as the native-born among the sons of Israel; they shall be allotted an inheritance with you among the tribes of Israel. 23 And in the tribe with which the alien stays, there you shall give him his inheritance,” declares the Lord God.

 

Ezekiel 48

Division of the Land

48 “Now these are the names of the tribes: from the northern extremity, beside the way of Hethlon to Lebo-hamath, as far as Hazar-enan at the border of Damascus, toward the north beside Hamath, running from east to west, Dan, one portionBeside the border of Dan, from the east side to the west side, Asher, one portionBeside the border of Asher, from the east side to the west side, Naphtali, one portionBeside the border of Naphtali, from the east side to the west side, Manasseh, one portionBeside the border of Manasseh, from the east side to the west side, Ephraim, one portionBeside the border of Ephraim, from the east side to the west side, Reuben, one portionBeside the border of Reuben, from the east side to the west side, Judah, one portion.

“And beside the border of Judah, from the east side to the west side, shall be the allotment which you shall set apart, 25,000 cubits in width, and in length like one of the portions, from the east side to the west side; and the sanctuary shall be in the middle of it.The allotment that you shall set apart to the Lord shall be 25,000 cubits in length and 10,000 in width.

Portion for the Priests

10 The holy allotment shall be for these, namely for the priests, toward the north 25,000 cubits in length, toward the west 10,000 in width, toward the east 10,000 in width, and toward the south 25,000 in length; and the sanctuary of the Lord shall be in its midst. 11 It shall be for the priests who are sanctified of the sons of Zadok, who have kept My charge, who did not go astray when the sons of Israel went astray as the Levites went astray. 12 It shall be an allotment to them from the allotment of the land, a most holy place, by the border of the Levites. 13 Alongside the border of the priests the Levites shall have 25,000cubits in length and 10,000 in width. The whole length shall be 25,000 cubits and the width 10,000. 14 Moreover, they shall not sell or exchange any of it, or alienate this choice portion of land; for it is holy to the Lord.

15 “The remainder, 5,000 cubits in width and 25,000 in length, shall be for common use for the city, for dwellings and for open spaces; and the city shall be in its midst. 16 These shall be its measurements: the north side 4,500 cubits, the south side 4,500 cubits, the east side 4,500 cubits, and the west side 4,500 cubits17 The city shall have open spaces: on the north 250 cubits, on the south 250 cubits, on the east 250 cubits, and on the west 250cubits18 The remainder of the length alongside the holy allotment shall be 10,000 cubits toward the east and 10,000 toward the west; and it shall be alongside the holy allotment. And its produce shall be food for the workers of the city. 19 The workers of the city, out of all the tribes of Israel, shall cultivate it. 20 The whole allotment shall be 25,000 by 25,000 cubits; you shall set apart the holy allotment, a square, with the property of the city.

Portion for the Prince

21 “The remainder shall be for the prince, on the one side and on the other of the holy allotment and of the property of the city; in front of the 25,000 cubits of the allotment toward the east border and westward in front of the 25,000 toward the west border, alongside the portions, it shall be for the prince. And the holy allotment and the sanctuary of the house shall be in the middle of it. 22 Exclusive of the property of the Levites and the property of the city, which are in the middle of that which belongs to the prince, everything between the border of Judah and the border of Benjamin shall be for the prince.

Portion for Other Tribes

23 “As for the rest of the tribes: from the east side to the west side, Benjamin, one portion. 24 Beside the border of Benjamin, from the east side to the west side, Simeon, one portion25 Beside the border of Simeon, from the east side to the west side, Issachar, one portion26 Beside the border of Issachar, from the east side to the west side, Zebulun, one portion27 Beside the border of Zebulun, from the east side to the west side, Gad, one portion28 And beside the border of Gad, at the south side toward the south, the border shall be from Tamar to the waters of Meribath-kadesh, to the brook of Egypt, to the Great Sea. 29 This is the land which you shall divide by lot to the tribes of Israel for an inheritance, and these are their several portions,” declares the Lord God.

The City Gates

30 “These are the exits of the city: on the north side, 4,500 cubits by measurement, 31 shall be the gates of the city, named for the tribes of Israel, three gates toward the north: the gate of Reuben, one; the gate of Judah, one; the gate of Levi, one. 32 On the east side, 4,500 cubits, shall be three gates: the gate of Joseph, one; the gate of Benjamin, one; the gate of Dan, one. 33 On the south side, 4,500 cubits by measurement, shall be three gates: the gate of Simeon, one; the gate of Issachar, one; the gate of Zebulun, one. 34 On the west side, 4,500 cubits, shall be three gates: the gate of Gad, one; the gate of Asher, one; the gate of Naphtali, one. 35 The city shall be 18,000 cubits round about; and the name of the city from that day shall be, ‘The Lord is there.’”

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB © The Lockman Foundation (www.lockman.org)

OT Reading – January 7

Ezekiel 43-44

Ezekiel 43

Vision of the Glory of God Filling the Temple

43 Then he led me to the gate, the gate facing toward the east; and behold, the glory of the God of Israel was coming from the way of the east. And His voice was like the sound of many waters; and the earth shone with His glory. And it was like the appearance of the vision which I saw, like the vision which I saw when He came to destroy the city. And the visions were like the vision which I saw by the river Chebar; and I fell on my face. And the glory of the Lord came into the house by the way of the gate facing toward the east. And the Spirit lifted me up and brought me into the inner court; and behold, the glory of the Lord filled the house.

Then I heard one speaking to me from the house, while a man was standing beside me. He said to me, “Son of man, this is the place of My throne and the place of the soles of My feet, where I will dwell among the sons of Israel forever. And the house of Israel will not again defile My holy name, neither they nor their kings, by their harlotry and by the corpses of their kings when they die, by setting their threshold by My threshold and their door post beside My door post, with only the wall between Me and them. And they have defiled My holy name by their abominations which they have committed. So I have consumed them in My anger. Now let them put away their harlotry and the corpses of their kings far from Me; and I will dwell among them forever.

10 “As for you, son of man, describe the temple to the house of Israel, that they may be ashamed of their iniquities; and let them measure the plan. 11 If they are ashamed of all that they have done, make known to them the design of the house, its structure, its exits, its entrances, all its designs, all its statutes, and all its laws. And write it in their sight, so that they may observe its whole design and all its statutes and do them. 12 This is the law of the house: its entire area on the top of the mountain all around shall be most holy. Behold, this is the law of the house.

The Altar of Sacrifice

13 “And these are the measurements of the altar by cubits (the cubit being a cubit and a handbreadth): the base shall be a cubit and the width a cubit, and its border on its edge round about one span; and this shall be the height of the base of the altar. 14 From the base on the ground to the lower ledge shall be two cubits and the width one cubit; and from the smaller ledge to the larger ledge shall be four cubits and the width one cubit.15 The altar hearth shall be four cubits; and from the altar hearth shall extend upwards four horns. 16 Now the altar hearth shall be twelve cubits long by twelve wide, square in its four sides. 17 The ledge shall be fourteen cubits long by fourteen wide in its four sides, the border around it shall be half a cubit and its base shall be a cubit round about; and its steps shall face the east.”

The Offerings

18 And He said to me, “Son of man, thus says the Lord God, ‘These are the statutes for the altar on the day it is built, to offer burnt offerings on it and to sprinkle blood on it. 19 You shall give to the Levitical priests who are from the offspring of Zadok, who draw near to Me to minister to Me,’ declares the Lord God, ‘a young bull for a sin offering. 20 You shall take some of its blood and put it on its four horns and on the four corners of the ledge and on the border round about; thus you shall cleanse it and make atonement for it. 21 You shall also take the bull for the sin offering, and it shall be burned in the appointed place of the house, outside the sanctuary.

22 ‘On the second day you shall offer a male goat without blemish for a sin offering, and they shall cleanse the altar as they cleansed it with the bull. 23 When you have finished cleansing it, you shall present a young bull without blemish and a ram without blemish from the flock. 24 You shall present them before the Lord, and the priests shall throw salt on them, and they shall offer them up as a burnt offering to the Lord. 25 For seven days you shall prepare daily a goat for a sin offering; also a young bull and a ram from the flock, without blemish, shall be prepared. 26 For seven days they shall make atonement for the altar and purify it; so shall they consecrate it. 27 When they have completed the days, it shall be that on the eighth day and onward, the priests shall offer your burnt offerings on the altar, and your peace offerings; and I will accept you,’ declares the Lord God.”

 

Ezekiel 44

Gate for the Prince

44 Then He brought me back by the way of the outer gate of the sanctuary, which faces the east; and it was shut. The Lord said to me, “This gate shall be shut; it shall not be opened, and no one shall enter by it, for the Lord God of Israel has entered by it; therefore it shall be shut. As for the prince, he shall sit in it as prince to eat bread before the Lord; he shall enter by way of the porch of the gate and shall go out by the same way.”

Then He brought me by way of the north gate to the front of the house; and I looked, and behold, the glory of the Lord filled the house of the Lord, and I fell on my face. The Lord said to me, “Son of man, mark well, see with your eyes and hear with your ears all that I say to you concerning all the statutes of the house of the Lord and concerning all its laws; and mark well the entrance of the house, with all exits of the sanctuary. You shall say to the rebellious ones, to the house of Israel, ‘Thus says the Lord God, “Enough of all your abominations, O house of Israel, when you brought in foreigners, uncircumcised in heart and uncircumcised in flesh, to be in My sanctuary to profane it, even My house, when you offered My food, the fat and the blood; for they made My covenant void—this in addition to all your abominations. And you have not kept charge of My holy things yourselves, but you have set foreigners to keep charge of My sanctuary.”

‘Thus says the Lord God, “No foreigner uncircumcised in heart and uncircumcised in flesh, of all the foreigners who are among the sons of Israel, shall enter My sanctuary. 10 But the Levites who went far from Me when Israel went astray, who went astray from Me after their idols, shall bear the punishment for their iniquity. 11 Yet they shall be ministers in My sanctuary, having oversight at the gates of the house and ministering in the house; they shall slaughter the burnt offering and the sacrifice for the people, and they shall stand before them to minister to them. 12 Because they ministered to them before their idols and became a stumbling block of iniquity to the house of Israel, therefore I have sworn against them,” declares the Lord God, “that they shall bear the punishment for their iniquity. 13 And they shall not come near to Me to serve as a priest to Me, nor come near to any of My holy things, to the things that are most holy; but they will bear their shame and their abominations which they have committed. 14 Yet I will appoint them to keep charge of the house, of all its service and of all that shall be done in it.

Ordinances for the Levites

15 “But the Levitical priests, the sons of Zadok, who kept charge of My sanctuary when the sons of Israel went astray from Me, shall come near to Me to minister to Me; and they shall stand before Me to offer Me the fat and the blood,” declares the Lord God. 16 “They shall enter My sanctuary; they shall come near to My table to minister to Me and keep My charge. 17 It shall be that when they enter at the gates of the inner court, they shall be clothed with linen garments; and wool shall not be on them while they are ministering in the gates of the inner court and in the house. 18 Linen turbans shall be on their heads and linen undergarments shall be on their loins; they shall not gird themselves with anything which makes them sweat. 19 When they go out into the outer court, into the outer court to the people, they shall put off their garments in which they have been ministering and lay them in the holy chambers; then they shall put on other garments so that they will not transmit holiness to the people with their garments. 20 Also they shall not shave their heads, yet they shall not let their locks grow long; they shall only trim the hair of their heads. 21 Nor shall any of the priests drink wine when they enter the inner court. 22 And they shall not marry a widow or a divorced woman but shall take virgins from the offspring of the house of Israel, or a widow who is the widow of a priest. 23 Moreover, they shall teach My people the difference between the holy and the profane, and cause them to discern between the unclean and the clean. 24 In a dispute they shall take their stand to judge; they shall judge it according to My ordinances. They shall also keep My laws and My statutes in all My appointed feasts and sanctify My sabbaths. 25 They shall not go to a dead person to defile themselves; however, for father, for mother, for son, for daughter, for brother, or for a sister who has not had a husband, they may defile themselves. 26 After he is cleansed, seven days shall elapse for him. 27 On the day that he goes into the sanctuary, into the inner court to minister in the sanctuary, he shall offer his sin offering,” declares the Lord God.

28 “And it shall be with regard to an inheritance for them, that I am their inheritance; and you shall give them no possession in Israel—I am their possession. 29 They shall eat the grain offering, the sin offering and the guilt offering; and every devoted thing in Israel shall be theirs. 30 The first of all the first fruits of every kind and every contribution of every kind, from all your contributions, shall be for the priests; you shall also give to the priest the first of your dough to cause a blessing to rest on your house. 31 The priests shall not eat any bird or beast that has died a natural death or has been torn to pieces.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB © The Lockman Foundation (www.lockman.org)

OT Reading – January 6

Ezekiel 41-42

Ezekiel 41

The Inner Temple

41 Then he brought me to the nave and measured the side pillars; six cubits wide on each side was the width of the side pillar. The width of the entrance was ten cubits and the sides of the entrance were five cubits on each side. And he measured the length of the nave, forty cubits, and the width, twenty cubits. Then he went inside and measured each side pillar of the doorway, two cubits, and the doorway, six cubits high; and the width of the doorway, seven cubits. He measured its length, twenty cubits, and the width, twenty cubits, before the nave; and he said to me, “This is the most holy place.”

Then he measured the wall of the temple, six cubits; and the width of the side chambers, four cubits, all around about the house on every side. The side chambers were in three stories, one above another, and thirty in each story; and the side chambers extended to the wall which stood on their inward side all around, that they might be fastened, and not be fastened into the wall of the temple itself. The side chambers surrounding the temple were wider at each successive story. Because the structure surrounding the temple went upward by stages on all sides of the temple, therefore the width of the temple increased as it went higher; and thus one went up from the lowest story to the highest by way of the second story. I saw also that the house had a raised platform all around; the foundations of the side chambers were a full rod of six long cubits in height. The thickness of the outer wall of the side chambers was five cubits. But the free space between the side chambers belonging to the temple 10 and the outer chambers was twenty cubits in width all around the temple on every side. 11 The doorways of the side chambers toward the free space consisted of one doorway toward the north and another doorway toward the south; and the width of the free space was five cubits all around.

12 The building that was in front of the separate area at the side toward the west was seventy cubits wide; and the wall of the building was five cubits thick all around, and its length was ninety cubits.

13 Then he measured the temple, a hundred cubits long; the separate area with the building and its walls were also a hundred cubits long. 14 Also the width of the front of the temple and that of the separate areas along the east side totaled a hundred cubits.

15 He measured the length of the building along the front of the separate area behind it, with a gallery on each side, a hundred cubits; he also measured the inner nave and the porches of the court. 16 The thresholds, the latticed windows and the galleries round about their three stories, opposite the threshold, were paneled with wood all around, and from the ground to the windows (but the windows were covered), 17 over the entrance, and to the inner house, and on the outside, and on all the wall all around inside and outside, by measurement. 18 It was carved with cherubim and palm trees; and a palm tree was between cherub and cherub, and every cherub had two faces, 19 a man’s face toward the palm tree on one side and a young lion’s face toward the palm tree on the other side; they were carved on all the house all around. 20 From the ground to above the entrance cherubim and palm trees were carved, as well as on the wall of the nave.

21 The doorposts of the nave were square; as for the front of the sanctuary, the appearance of one doorpost was like that of the other. 22 The altar was of wood, three cubits high and its length two cubits; its corners, its base and its sides were of wood. And he said to me, “This is the table that is before the Lord.” 23 The nave and the sanctuary each had a double door. 24 Each of the doors had two leaves, two swinging leaves; two leaves for one door and two leaves for the other. 25 Also there were carved on them, on the doors of the nave, cherubim and palm trees like those carved on the walls; and there was a threshold of wood on the front of the porch outside. 26 There were latticed windows and palm trees on one side and on the other, on the sides of the porch; thus were the side chambers of the house and the thresholds.

Ezekiel 42

Chambers of the Temple

42 Then he brought me out into the outer court, the way toward the north; and he brought me to the chamber which was opposite the separate area and opposite the building toward the north. Along the length, which was a hundred cubits, was the north door; the width was fifty cubits. Opposite the twenty cubits which belonged to the inner court, and opposite the pavement which belonged to the outer court, was gallery corresponding to gallery in three stories. Before the chambers was an inner walk ten cubits wide, a way of one hundred cubits; and their openings were on the north. Now the upper chambers were smaller because the galleries took more space away from them than from the lower and middle ones in the building. For they were in three stories and had no pillars like the pillars of the courts; therefore the upper chambers were set back from the ground upward, more than the lower and middle ones. As for the outer wall by the side of the chambers, toward the outer court facing the chambers, its length was fifty cubits. For the length of the chambers which were in the outer court was fifty cubits; and behold, the length of those facing the temple was a hundred cubits. Below these chambers was the entrance on the east side, as one enters them from the outer court.

10 In the thickness of the wall of the court toward the east, facing the separate area and facing the building, there were chambers. 11 The way in front of them was like the appearance of the chambers which were on the north, according to their length so was their width, and all their exits were both according to their arrangements and openings. 12 Corresponding to the openings of the chambers which were toward the south was an opening at the head of the way, the way in front of the wall toward the east, as one enters them.

13 Then he said to me, “The north chambers and the south chambers, which are opposite the separate area, they are the holy chambers where the priests who are near to the Lord shall eat the most holy things. There they shall lay the most holy things, the grain offering, the sin offering and the guilt offering; for the place is holy. 14 When the priests enter, then they shall not go out into the outer court from the sanctuary without laying there their garments in which they minister, for they are holy. They shall put on other garments; then they shall approach that which is for the people.”

15 Now when he had finished measuring the inner house, he brought me out by the way of the gate which faced toward the east and measured it all around. 16 He measured on the east side with the measuring reed five hundred reeds by the measuring reed. 17 He measured on the north side five hundred reeds by the measuring reed. 18 On the south side he measured five hundred reeds with the measuring reed. 19 He turned to the west side and measured five hundred reeds with the measuring reed. 20 He measured it on the four sides; it had a wall all around, the length five hundred and the width five hundred, to divide between the holy and the profane.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB © The Lockman Foundation (www.lockman.org)

OT Reading – January 5

Ezekiel 40

Vision of the Man with a Measuring Rod

40 In the twenty-fifth year of our exile, at the beginning of the year, on the tenth of the month, in the fourteenth year after the city was taken, on that same day the hand of the Lord was upon me and He brought me there. In the visions of God He brought me into the land of Israel and set me on a very high mountain, and on it to the south there was a structure like a city. So He brought me there; and behold, there was a man whose appearance was like the appearance of bronze, with a line of flax and a measuring rod in his hand; and he was standing in the gateway. The man said to me, “Son of man, see with your eyes, hear with your ears, and give attention to all that I am going to show you; for you have been brought here in order to show it to you. Declare to the house of Israel all that you see.”

Measurements Relating to the Temple

And behold, there was a wall on the outside of the temple all around, and in the man’s hand was a measuring rod of six cubits, each of which was a cubit and a handbreadth. So he measured the thickness of the wall, one rod; and the height, one rod. Then he went to the gate which faced east, went up its steps and measured the threshold of the gate, one rod in width; and the other threshold was one rod in width. The guardroom was one rod long and one rod wide; and there were five cubits between the guardrooms. And the threshold of the gate by the porch of the gate facing inward was one rod. Then he measured the porch of the gate facing inward, one rod. He measured the porch of the gate, eight cubits; and its side pillars, two cubits. And the porch of the gate was faced inward. 10 The guardrooms of the gate toward the east numbered three on each side; the three of them had the same measurement. The side pillars also had the same measurement on each side. 11 And he measured the width of the gateway, ten cubits, and the length of the gate, thirteen cubits. 12 There was a barrier wall one cubit wide in front of the guardrooms on each side; and the guardrooms were six cubits square on each side. 13 He measured the gate from the roof of the one guardroom to the roof of the other, a width of twenty-five cubits from one door to the door opposite. 14 He made the side pillars sixty cubits high; the gate extended round about to the side pillar of the courtyard. 15 From the front of the entrance gate to the front of the inner porch of the gate was fifty cubits. 16 There were shuttered windows looking toward the guardrooms, and toward their side pillars within the gate all around, and likewise for the porches. And there were windows all around inside; and on each side pillar were palm tree ornaments.

17 Then he brought me into the outer court, and behold, there were chambers and a pavement made for the court all around; thirty chambers faced the pavement. 18 The pavement (that is, the lower pavement) was by the side of the gates, corresponding to the length of the gates. 19 Then he measured the width from the front of the lower gate to the front of the exterior of the inner court, a hundred cubits on the east and on the north.

20 As for the gate of the outer court which faced the north, he measured its length and its width. 21 It had three guardrooms on each side; and its side pillars and its porches had the same measurement as the first gate. Its length was fifty cubits and the width twenty-five cubits. 22 Its windows and its porches and its palm tree ornaments had the same measurements as the gate which faced toward the east; and it was reached by seven steps, and its porch was in front of them. 23 The inner court had a gate opposite the gate on the north as well as the gate on the east; and he measured a hundred cubits from gate to gate.

24 Then he led me toward the south, and behold, there was a gate toward the south; and he measured its side pillars and its porches according to those same measurements. 25 The gate and its porches had windows all around like those other windows; the length was fifty cubits and the width twenty-five cubits. 26 There were seven steps going up to it, and its porches were in front of them; and it had palm tree ornaments on its side pillars, one on each side. 27 The inner court had a gate toward the south; and he measured from gate to gate toward the south, a hundred cubits.

28 Then he brought me to the inner court by the south gate; and he measured the south gate according to those same measurements. 29 Its guardrooms also, its side pillars and its porches were according to those same measurements. And the gate and its porches had windows all around; it was fifty cubits long and twenty-five cubits wide. 30 There were porches all around, twenty-five cubits long and five cubits wide. 31 Its porches were toward the outer court; and palm tree ornaments were on its side pillars, and its stairway had eight steps.

32 He brought me into the inner court toward the east. And he measured the gate according to those same measurements. 33 Its guardrooms also, its side pillars and its porches were according to those same measurements. And the gate and its porches had windows all around; it was fifty cubits long and twenty-five cubits wide. 34 Its porches were toward the outer court; and palm tree ornaments were on its side pillars, on each side, and its stairway had eight steps.

35 Then he brought me to the north gate; and he measured it according to those same measurements, 36 with its guardrooms, its side pillars and its porches. And the gate had windows all around; the length was fifty cubits and the width twenty-five cubits. 37 Its side pillars were toward the outer court; and palm tree ornaments were on its side pillars on each side, and its stairway had eight steps.

38 A chamber with its doorway was by the side pillars at the gates; there they rinse the burnt offering. 39 In the porch of the gate were two tables on each side, on which to slaughter the burnt offering, the sin offering and the guilt offering. 40 On the outer side, as one went up to the gateway toward the north, were two tables; and on the other side of the porch of the gate were two tables. 41 Four tables were on each side next to the gate; or, eight tables on which they slaughter sacrifices. 42 For the burnt offering there were four tables of hewn stone, a cubit and a half long, a cubit and a half wide and one cubit high, on which they lay the instruments with which they slaughter the burnt offering and the sacrifice. 43 The double hooks, one handbreadth in length, were installed in the house all around; and on the tables was the flesh of the offering.

44 From the outside to the inner gate were chambers for the singers in the inner court, one of which was at the side of the north gate, with its front toward the south, and one at the side of the south gate facing toward the north. 45 He said to me, “This is the chamber which faces toward the south, intended for the priests who keep charge of the temple; 46 but the chamber which faces toward the north is for the priests who keep charge of the altar. These are the sons of Zadok, who from the sons of Levi come near to the Lord to minister to Him.” 47 He measured the court, a perfect square, a hundred cubits long and a hundred cubits wide; and the altar was in front of the temple.

48 Then he brought me to the porch of the temple and measured each side pillar of the porch, five cubits on each side; and the width of the gate was three cubits on each side. 49 The length of the porch was twenty cubits and the width eleven cubits; and at the stairway by which it was ascended were columns belonging to the side pillars, one on each side.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB © The Lockman Foundation (www.lockman.org)