Old Testament: Ezra 4:24-6:22
Ezra 4:24-6:22 Tattenai Tattooed
The enemy’s ploy worked and the work on the Temple stopped. But Haggai and Zechariah (yes, that Haggai and Zechariah) began prophesying and encouraging the Israelites to restart the work on the Temple (v. 5).
Of course, they were met with resistance. A couple of dudes named Tattenai and Shethar-bozenai wanted to know why they were working. They were given an answer and decided to check things out with the King Darius. They asked Darius to check the official records to make sure there was really a decree by Cyrus to allow the rebuilding to be done. In the meantime, they were allowed to work.
Meanwhile, Darius found the decree of Cyrus and allowed the building to go on. Further, he decreed that the provinces of Tattenai and Shethar-bonzenai pay all the expenses. If anyone was to impede the building, the penalty was that a beam from his own house would be used to impale him.
When the Temple was finally finished, it was dedicated. Wiersbe states that it was approximately 70 years from the decree of Cyrus in 586 till the dedication of the Temple on March 12, 515 B.C. (on twelfth day of the last month of 515). It was five and half years after Haggai and Zechariah called the Jews back to work (cf. Hag. 5:1). They brought offerings according to the law of Moses.
The Passover, commemorating Israel’s release from Egypt and the sacrifice of Christ, was celebrated according to schedule. When Solomon dedicated the Temple in his day, the sacrifices were innumerable (1 Kings 8:5). When the same group of exiles dedicated their Temple there were 712 sacrifices but no less joy amongst the people (Ezra 6: 22). Then they celebrated the Feast of Unleavened Bread on schedule. Isn’t it amazing that God had the former enemies of Israel, the Assyrians, decree and then finance the rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem? We’ll see another story similar to this one when we get to Hangman, I mean, Haman, in the book of Esther.
New Testament: 1 Cor. 3:5-23
1 Cor. 3:5-23 Don’t Look A Gift Teacher In The Mouth
We looked at one of the most important portions of Scripture on spirituality yesterday. Today we look at one of the most important Scriptures on end times. How many times have you heard a sermon on either passage?
Paul is still trying to solve the problem of the divided body in Corinth. He says that he had a different role in the building up of the body in Corinth than Apollos. He said he planted the church but Apollos worked to cause the growth (v. 6). But it didn’t matter who did what, God was the one really causing the building up of the body there. He points out that no matter what job God has given anyone, they will still have to give an account of their lives to God.
Paul says God gave him the ability to lay a foundation in Corinth but someone else is responsible for building on that foundation. The foundation Paul laid was Christ because there is no other foundation that can be built on (v. 11).
Here is the important teaching that almost no one talks about anymore. The foundation is Christ. Anyone who builds on that foundation can use different materials. They can be relatively expensive like gold, silver, or expensive jewels (v. 12a). They might also use inexpensive, nearly worthless materials like wood, hay, or straw. Whatever anyone uses will be exposed when it is tested by fire. If the fire leaves the expensive materials, the person will receive a reward. If anyone’s cheap materials are burnt up, the person’s reward may not have any reward at all (“suffer loss,” v. 15a). Nevertheless, he will still go to Heaven (v. 15b).
Wouldn’t you think that this would be a very important teaching? Wouldn’t you think that pastors should inform their flock that they not only need to be saved but they also need to work for the Lord because it will affect their place in Heaven? We will find out in the next letter to the Corinthians (2 Cor. 5:10) that the place where this judgment occurs is called the bema seat.
Another important teaching. We have studied the Temple in the Old Testament quite a bit. Now we find out that in the church dispensation, we are the Temple of God. The Holy Spirit dwells in us (Rom. 8:9) just as God dwelt in the Holy of Holies in the Temple.
Paul gets back to the subject of wisdom. He warns the Corinthians that they should not think they are “wise” (v. 18a). They must become “foolish” to be “wise” (v. 18b). Again, Paul states that “the wisdom of this world is foolishness before God” (v. 19). He quotes Job 5:13 (v. 19) and Psalm 94:11 (v. 20) to make his point. His point is that no one really is wise other than God Himself.
Further, if only God is wise, then human teachers should not be venerated (v. 21). In fact, God uses different men to teach different things. “All things belong to [them].” So whether God uses Paul or Apollos or Peter (Cephas), God is using them for the Corinthians’ benefit (v. 22). Paul says again, “all things belong to [them]” meaning that they belong to Christ Who belongs to God Who owns everything.
The Corinthians, instead of jockeying for position and superiority, should appreciate the wonderful gift of teachers God has given them!
Psalm 29:1-11 The Nature Of Things A Hymn of Praise by David
Proverbs 20:26-27 Lighting Things Up
A good leader will adhere to God’s standards. Unless he trusts the Lord, he won’t have the intestinal fortitude to withstand the wicked (v. 26). But if he does trust the Lord, he will kick evil’s rear.
A person has a natural immaterial part. But a person also has a spiritual part, too (v. 27, see 1 Thess. 5:23 in A Real Terror). God sheds His light into a person’s inner being.
Choose Life: Scripture: 1 Corinthians 3:13 NASB “Harping On It Some More”
” . . . each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work.” 1 Corinthians 3:13
If it seems that I keep “harping” on the subject of the bema seat judgment for Christians, I apologize. Well, not really. I think all Christians need to know about the bema seat. The Scriptures talk about it in several passages, Rom. 14:10, 1 Cor. 3:10-15, and 2 Cor. 5:10. I’ve already mentioned the bema judgment several times (see blogs Bema Me Up Scotty!, Don’t Look A Gift Teacher In The Mouth, and No Doubt).
A few years back, we were starting a church. The pastor from the largest Protestant church in town came to visit. He interrupted the service to get up and answer his phone during the sermon. When he came back, he went to the men’s room which was situated a couple feet behind the last row of chairs since the room was so small. At the time I was using fill in the blanks for the sermon outline in the bulletin. He asked me what went in the blank of one of the points that he missed while he was gone. I told him “bema seat judgment.” He said, “How do you spell that?” Then he asked, “What’s that?” I explained it to him. The minister of the largest Protestant church in town had no clue what the bema seat judgment was. I infer from that that many or most of the “Christian” population of our town doesn’t know that there is going to be a judgment for Christians.
Are you aware that there is going to be a judgment for Christians after you die?
If you are, you will find that you are choosing life (Deut. 30:19)!
I don’t know exactly where the idea of harps in heaven came from. I’m guessing it might come from the concept of rewards in Heaven. You see, there isn’t a need to be too scared about the bema seat judgment in Heaven. It’s still true that there will be no condemnation when we are judged (cf. Rom. 8:1).
I think the bema judgment will be like at the Olympics when the medal winners all stand on a dais to receive their rewards. Ryrie likens it to the awards ceremony at a graduation. Some will get awards and some will not. At the bema those who have faithfully served Christ will be rewarded. Those who have only trusted Christ will make it into Heaven but by “the skin of their teeth” (cf. 1 Cor. 3:15, “If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire”). Or as the three little pigs might say, “by the hair on their chinny, chin, chins”!
So it is a sobering thought that we will all stand before Christ to give an account (Rom. 14:12; Heb. 13:17). All Bible pastors should be including that topic in their sermons and teaching. In fact, they may even want to “harp” on it.
The purpose of the “Choose Life” is to pick a positive help out of the One Year Bible (OYB) reading plan for the day. There is always something positive in the Word of God to cheer us and give us strength. For more on today’s reading, check out my One Year Bible blog: Don’t Look A Gift Teacher In The Mouth