Ezra 7-10; Psalm 97; Rev 4
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The following text is from the English Standard Version.
Now after this, in the reign of Artaxerxes king of Persia, Ezra the son of Seraiah, son of Azariah, son of Hilkiah,
son of Shallum, son of Zadok, son of Ahitub,
son of Amariah, son of Azariah, son of Meraioth,
son of Zerahiah, son of Uzzi, son of Bukki,
son of Abishua, son of Phinehas, son of Eleazar, son of Aaron the chief priest–
this Ezra went up from Babylonia. He was a scribe skilled in the Law of Moses that the LORD the God of Israel had given, and the king granted him all that he asked, for the hand of the LORD his God was on him.
And there went up also to Jerusalem, in the seventh year of Artaxerxes the king, some of the people of Israel, and some of the priests and Levites, the singers and gatekeepers, and the temple servants.
And he came to Jerusalem in the fifth month, which was in the seventh year of the king.
For on the first day of the first month he began to go up from Babylonia, and on the first day of the fifth month he came to Jerusalem, for the good hand of his God was on him.
For Ezra had set his heart to study the Law of the LORD, and to do it and to teach his statutes and rules in Israel.
This is a copy of the letter that King Artaxerxes gave to Ezra the priest, the scribe, a man learned in matters of the commandments of the LORD and his statutes for Israel:
‘Artaxerxes, king of kings, to Ezra the priest, the scribe of the Law of the God of heaven. Peace. And now
I make a decree that anyone of the people of Israel or their priests or Levites in my kingdom, who freely offers to go to Jerusalem, may go with you.
For you are sent by the king and his seven counselors to make inquiries about Judah and Jerusalem according to the Law of your God, which is in your hand,
and also to carry the silver and gold that the king and his counselors have freely offered to the God of Israel, whose dwelling is in Jerusalem,
with all the silver and gold that you shall find in the whole province of Babylonia, and with the freewill offerings of the people and the priests, vowed willingly for the house of their God that is in Jerusalem.
With this money, then, you shall with all diligence buy bulls, rams, and lambs, with their grain offerings and their drink offerings, and you shall offer them on the altar of the house of your God that is in Jerusalem.
Whatever seems good to you and your brothers to do with the rest of the silver and gold, you may do, according to the will of your God.
The vessels that have been given you for the service of the house of your God, you shall deliver before the God of Jerusalem.
And whatever else is required for the house of your God, which it falls to you to provide, you may provide it out of the king’s treasury.
‘And I, Artaxerxes the king, make a decree to all the treasurers in the province Beyond the River: Whatever Ezra the priest, the scribe of the Law of the God of heaven, requires of you, let it be done with all diligence,
up to 100 talents of silver, 100 cors of wheat, 100 baths of wine, 100 baths of oil, and salt without prescribing how much.
Whatever is decreed by the God of heaven, let it be done in full for the house of the God of heaven, lest his wrath be against the realm of the king and his sons.
We also notify you that it shall not be lawful to impose tribute, custom, or toll on anyone of the priests, the Levites, the singers, the doorkeepers, the temple servants, or other servants of this house of God.
‘And you, Ezra, according to the wisdom of your God that is in your hand, appoint magistrates and judges who may judge all the people in the province Beyond the River, all such as know the laws of your God. And those who do not know them, you shall teach.
Whoever will not obey the law of your God and the law of the king, let judgment be strictly executed on him, whether for death or for banishment or for confiscation of his goods or for imprisonment.”
Blessed be the LORD, the God of our fathers, who put such a thing as this into the heart of the king, to beautify the house of the LORD that is in Jerusalem,
and who extended to me his steadfast love before the king and his counselors, and before all the king’s mighty officers. I took courage, for the hand of the LORD my God was on me, and I gathered leading men from Israel to go up with me.
These are the heads of their fathers’ houses, and this is the genealogy of those who went up with me from Babylonia, in the reign of Artaxerxes the king:
Of the sons of Phinehas, Gershom. Of the sons of Ithamar, Daniel. Of the sons of David, Hattush.
Of the sons of Shecaniah, who was of the sons of Parosh, Zechariah, with whom were registered 150 men.
Of the sons of Pahath-moab, Eliehoenai the son of Zerahiah, and with him 200 men.
Of the sons of Zattu, Shecaniah the son of Jahaziel, and with him 300 men.
Of the sons of Adin, Ebed the son of Jonathan, and with him 50 men.
Of the sons of Elam, Jeshaiah the son of Athaliah, and with him 70 men.
Of the sons of Shephatiah, Zebadiah the son of Michael, and with him 80 men.
Of the sons of Joab, Obadiah the son of Jehiel, and with him 218 men.
Of the sons of Bani, Shelomith the son of Josiphiah, and with him 160 men.
Of the sons of Bebai, Zechariah, the son of Bebai, and with him 28 men.
Of the sons of Azgad, Johanan the son of Hakkatan, and with him 110 men.
Of the sons of Adonikam, those who came later, their names being Eliphelet, Jeuel, and Shemaiah, and with them 60 men.
Of the sons of Bigvai, Uthai and Zaccur, and with them 70 men.
I gathered them to the river that runs to Ahava, and there we camped three days. As I reviewed the people and the priests, I found there none of the sons of Levi.
Then I sent for Eliezer, Ariel, Shemaiah, Elnathan, Jarib, Elnathan, Nathan, Zechariah, and Meshullam, leading men, and for Joiarib and Elnathan, who were men of insight,
and sent them to Iddo, the leading man at the place Casiphia, telling them what to say to Iddo and his brothers and the temple servants at the place Casiphia, namely, to send us ministers for the house of our God.
And by the good hand of our God on us, they brought us a man of discretion, of the sons of Mahli the son of Levi, son of Israel, namely Sherebiah with his sons and kinsmen, 18;
also Hashabiah, and with him Jeshaiah of the sons of Merari, with his kinsmen and their sons, 20;
besides 220 of the temple servants, whom David and his officials had set apart to attend the Levites. These were all mentioned by name.
Then I proclaimed a fast there, at the river Ahava, that we might humble ourselves before our God, to seek from him a safe journey for ourselves, our children, and all our goods.
For I was ashamed to ask the king for a band of soldiers and horsemen to protect us against the enemy on our way, since we had told the king, ”The hand of our God is for good on all who seek him, and the power of his wrath is against all who forsake him.”
So we fasted and implored our God for this, and he listened to our entreaty.
Then I set apart twelve of the leading priests: Sherebiah, Hashabiah, and ten of their kinsmen with them.
And I weighed out to them the silver and the gold and the vessels, the offering for the house of our God that the king and his counselors and his lords and all Israel there present had offered.
I weighed out into their hand 650 talents of silver, and silver vessels worth 200 talents, and 100 talents of gold,
20 bowls of gold worth 1,000 darics, and two vessels of fine bright bronze as precious as gold.
And I said to them, ”You are holy to the LORD, and the vessels are holy, and the silver and the gold are a freewill offering to the LORD, the God of your fathers.
Guard them and keep them until you weigh them before the chief priests and the Levites and the heads of fathers’ houses in Israel at Jerusalem, within the chambers of the house of the LORD.”
So the priests and the Levites took over the weight of the silver and the gold and the vessels, to bring them to Jerusalem, to the house of our God.
Then we departed from the river Ahava on the twelfth day of the first month, to go to Jerusalem. The hand of our God was on us, and he delivered us from the hand of the enemy and from ambushes by the way.
We came to Jerusalem, and there we remained three days.
On the fourth day, within the house of our God, the silver and the gold and the vessels were weighed into the hands of Meremoth the priest, son of Uriah, and with him was Eleazar the son of Phinehas, and with them were the Levites, Jozabad the son of Jeshua and Noadiah the son of Binnui.
The whole was counted and weighed, and the weight of everything was recorded.
At that time those who had come from captivity, the returned exiles, offered burnt offerings to the God of Israel, twelve bulls for all Israel, ninety-six rams, seventy-seven lambs, and as a sin offering twelve male goats. All this was a burnt offering to the LORD.
They also delivered the king’s commissions to the king’s satraps and to the governors of the province Beyond the River, and they aided the people and the house of God.
After these things had been done, the officials approached me and said, ”The people of Israel and the priests and the Levites have not separated themselves from the peoples of the lands with their abominations, from the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Jebusites, the Ammonites, the Moabites, the Egyptians, and the Amorites.
For they have taken some of their daughters to be wives for themselves and for their sons, so that the holy race has mixed itself with the peoples of the lands. And in this faithlessness the hand of the officials and chief men has been foremost.”
As soon as I heard this, I tore my garment and my cloak and pulled hair from my head and beard and sat appalled.
Then all who trembled at the words of the God of Israel, because of the faithlessness of the returned exiles, gathered around me while I sat appalled until the evening sacrifice.
And at the evening sacrifice I rose from my fasting, with my garment and my cloak torn, and fell upon my knees and spread out my hands to the LORD my God,
saying:”O my God, I am ashamed and blush to lift my face to you, my God, for our iniquities have risen higher than our heads, and our guilt has mounted up to the heavens.
From the days of our fathers to this day we have been in great guilt. And for our iniquities we, our kings, and our priests have been given into the hand of the kings of the lands, to the sword, to captivity, to plundering, and to utter shame, as it is today.
But now for a brief moment favor has been shown by the LORD our God, to leave us a remnant and to give us a secure hold within his holy place, that our God may brighten our eyes and grant us a little reviving in our slavery.
For we are slaves. Yet our God has not forsaken us in our slavery, but has extended to us his steadfast love before the kings of Persia, to grant us some reviving to set up the house of our God, to repair its ruins, and to give us protection in Judea and Jerusalem.
‘And now, O our God, what shall we say after this? For we have forsaken your commandments,
which you commanded by your servants the prophets, saying, ‘The land that you are entering, to take possession of it, is a land impure with the impurity of the peoples of the lands, with their abominations that have filled it from end to end with their uncleanness.
Therefore do not give your daughters to their sons, neither take their daughters for your sons, and never seek their peace or prosperity, that you may be strong and eat the good of the land and leave it for an inheritance to your children forever.’
And after all that has come upon us for our evil deeds and for our great guilt, seeing that you, our God, have punished us less than our iniquities deserved and have given us such a remnant as this,
shall we break your commandments again and intermarry with the peoples who practice these abominations? Would you not be angry with us until you consumed us, so that there should be no remnant, nor any to escape?
O LORD the God of Israel, you are just, for we are left a remnant that has escaped, as it is today. Behold, we are before you in our guilt, for none can stand before you because of this.”
While Ezra prayed and made confession, weeping and casting himself down before the house of God, a very great assembly of men, women, and children, gathered to him out of Israel, for the people wept bitterly.
And Shecaniah the son of Jehiel, of the sons of Elam, addressed Ezra: ”We have broken faith with our God and have married foreign women from the peoples of the land, but even now there is hope for Israel in spite of this.
Therefore let us make a covenant with our God to put away all these wives and their children, according to the counsel of my lord and of those who tremble at the commandment of our God, and let it be done according to the Law.
Arise, for it is your task, and we are with you; be strong and do it.”
Then Ezra arose and made the leading priests and Levites and all Israel take oath that they would do as had been said. So they took the oath.
Then Ezra withdrew from before the house of God and went to the chamber of Jehohanan the son of Eliashib, where he spent the night, neither eating bread nor drinking water, for he was mourning over the faithlessness of the exiles.
And a proclamation was made throughout Judah and Jerusalem to all the returned exiles that they should assemble at Jerusalem,
and that if anyone did not come within three days, by order of the officials and the elders all his property should be forfeited, and he himself banned from the congregation of the exiles.
Then all the men of Judah and Benjamin assembled at Jerusalem within the three days. It was the ninth month, on the twentieth day of the month. And all the people sat in the open square before the house of God, trembling because of this matter and because of the heavy rain.
And Ezra the priest stood up and said to them, ”You have broken faith and married foreign women, and so increased the guilt of Israel.
Now then make confession to the LORD, the God of your fathers and do his will. Separate yourselves from the peoples of the land and from the foreign wives.”
Then all the assembly answered with a loud voice, ”It is so; we must do as you have said.
But the people are many, and it is a time of heavy rain; we cannot stand in the open. Nor is this a task for one day or for two, for we have greatly transgressed in this matter.
Let our officials stand for the whole assembly. Let all in our cities who have taken foreign wives come at appointed times, and with them the elders and judges of every city, until the fierce wrath of our God over this matter is turned away from us.”
Only Jonathan the son of Asahel and Jahzeiah the son of Tikvah opposed this, and Meshullam and Shabbethai the Levite supported them.
Then the returned exiles did so. Ezra the priest selected men, heads of fathers’ houses, according to their fathers’ houses, each of them designated by name. On the first day of the tenth month they sat down to examine the matter;
and by the first day of the first month they had come to the end of all the men who had married foreign women.
Now there were found some of the sons of the priests who had married foreign women: Maaseiah, Eliezer, Jarib, and Gedaliah, some of the sons of Jeshua the son of Jozadak and his brothers.
They pledged themselves to put away their wives, and their guilt offering was a ram of the flock for their guilt.
Of the sons of Immer: Hanani and Zebadiah.
Of the sons of Harim: Maaseiah, Elijah, Shemaiah, Jehiel, and Uzziah.
Of the sons of Pashhur: Elioenai, Maaseiah, Ishmael, Nethanel, Jozabad, and Elasah.
Of the Levites: Jozabad, Shimei, Kelaiah (that is, Kelita), Pethahiah, Judah, and Eliezer.
Of the singers: Eliashib. Of the gatekeepers: Shallum, Telem, and Uri.
And of Israel: of the sons of Parosh: Ramiah, Izziah, Malchijah, Mijamin, Eleazar, Hashabiah, and Benaiah.
Of the sons of Elam: Mattaniah, Zechariah, Jehiel, Abdi, Jeremoth, and Elijah.
Of the sons of Zattu: Elioenai, Eliashib, Mattaniah, Jeremoth, Zabad, and Aziza.
Of the sons of Bebai were Jehohanan, Hananiah, Zabbai, and Athlai.
Of the sons of Bani were Meshullam, Malluch, Adaiah, Jashub, Sheal, and Jeremoth.
Of the sons of Pahath-moab: Adna, Chelal, Benaiah, Maaseiah, Mattaniah, Bezalel, Binnui, and Manasseh.
Of the sons of Harim: Eliezer, Isshijah, Malchijah, Shemaiah, Shimeon,
Benjamin, Malluch, and Shemariah.
Of the sons of Hashum: Mattenai, Mattattah, Zabad, Eliphelet, Jeremai, Manasseh, and Shimei.
Of the sons of Bani: Maadai, Amram, Uel,
Benaiah, Bedeiah, Cheluhi,
Vaniah, Meremoth, Eliashib,
Mattaniah, Mattenai, Jaasu.
Of the sons of Binnui: Shimei,
Shelemiah, Nathan, Adaiah,
Machnadebai, Shashai, Sharai,
Azarel, Shelemiah, Shemariah,
Shallum, Amariah, and Joseph.
Of the sons of Nebo: Jeiel, Mattithiah, Zabad, Zebina, Jaddai, Joel, and Benaiah.
All these had married foreign women, and some of the women had even borne children.
The LORD reigns, let the earth rejoice; let the many coastlands be glad!
Clouds and thick darkness are all around him; righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne.
Fire goes before him and burns up his adversaries all around.
His lightnings light up the world; the earth sees and trembles.
The mountains melt like wax before the LORD, before the Lord of all the earth.
The heavens proclaim his righteousness, and all the peoples see his glory.
All worshipers of images are put to shame, who make their boast in worthless idols; worship him, all you gods!
Zion hears and is glad, and the daughters of Judah rejoice, because of your judgments, O LORD.
For you, O LORD, are most high over all the earth; you are exalted far above all gods.
O you who love the LORD, hate evil! He preserves the lives of his saints; he delivers them from the hand of the wicked.
Light is sown for the righteous, and joy for the upright in heart.
Rejoice in the LORD, O you righteous, and give thanks to his holy name!
After this I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven! And the first voice, which I had heard speaking to me like a trumpet, said, ”Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.”
At once I was in the Spirit, and behold, a throne stood in heaven, with one seated on the throne.
And he who sat there had the appearance of jasper and carnelian, and around the throne was a rainbow that had the appearance of an emerald.
Around the throne were twenty-four thrones, and seated on the thrones were twenty-four elders, clothed in white garments, with golden crowns on their heads.
From the throne came flashes of lightning, and rumblings and peals of thunder, and before the throne were burning seven torches of fire, which are the seven spirits of God,
and before the throne there was as it were a sea of glass, like crystal.And around the throne, on each side of the throne, are four living creatures, full of eyes in front and behind:
the first living creature like a lion, the second living creature like an ox, the third living creature with the face of a man, and the fourth living creature like an eagle in flight.
And the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all around and within, and day and night they never cease to say, ”Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!”
And whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to him who is seated on the throne, who lives forever and ever,
the twenty-four elders fall down before him who is seated on the throne and worship him who lives forever and ever. They cast their crowns before the throne, saying,
‘Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.”
The reading plan I’ve chosen is from Bible Class Material and it’s a 5 day plan, with weekend days to catch up or get ahead or just take a break!