Isaiah 35-36

Isaiah 35-36

Chapter 35: Babylon is fallen!

Lands will be restored, and the desert blossom. The weak will be strengthened, the sick and diseased healed. Abundance shall replace lack. There shall be a Way of Holiness – a road leading to Zion.

Chapter 36: A Nail in a Sure Place

See 2 Kings 18:13-27. Officials from King Hezekiah’s government meet Rabshakeh, general of the armies of Assyria. Rabshakeh speaks against Judah’s trust in an alliance with Egypt, and says the Lord will not save them. Rabshakeh speaks directly to the people of Jerusalem in Hebrew, seeking to demoralize them.

Proverbs 11-12

Proverbs 11-12

Chapter 11: We Need to Save Souls

The works of good vs. the works of evil and their respective rewards are contrasted in this chapter.

“An hypocrite with his mouth destroyeth his neighbor: but through knowledge shall the just be delivered.” (Proverbs 11:9)

                Those who have no knowledge or very little knowledge will easily become a hypocrite. However, the righteous will overcome the hypocrite with knowledge.

“He that is void of wisdom despiseth his neighbor; but a man of understanding holdeth his peace.” (Proverbs 11:12)

Someone who is uneducated and completely lacking any class or wisdom will hate his neighbor, but the man who is righteous, with knowledge and class will just hold it inside.

“…he that winneth souls is wise.” (Proverbs 11:30) When it really comes down to everything in this life, the most important thing is to save your soul and the souls of those around you. Spread good will and be GOOD to everyone around you. Do as Jesus would.

Chapter 12: The Way of the Fool is Right… in his OWN EYES.

This chapter opens up with the simple “Whoso loveth instruction loveth knowledge, but he that hateth reproof is brutish.” (Proverbs 12:1) Essentially this is saying that those who love knowledge and instruction love criticism, because they know it will make them better. Those however who hate criticism and don’t want to be corrected are like savages and beasts.

“A virtuous woman is a crown to her husband: but she that maketh ashamed is a rottenness in his bones” (Proverbs 12:4) I think this is a great verse, first we learn that women and men should be “virtuous, which is defined as: 1. with moral integrity: having or showing moral goodness or righteousness and 2. chaste: not having sexual intercourse with anyone except a partner in marriage, especially a husband.

So we learn that we need to be morally clean and have sex only in the bounds of marriage. If a woman is morally clean and generally a good person, a man should seek her out and desire those traits. When found, that man should hold his wife to high esteem and consider her precious and of great worth. However if a woman (or man for the ladies) comes a long and is not one of those things, then it really is like a rotten cancer that has no place in that person’s life.

In this chapter we also learn of the value of animal life; “A righteous man regardeth the life of the beast…” (Proverbs 12:10) Does that mean that we can’t kill animals? No, we most certainly can… if it is for food. In modern scriptures we read; “For behold the beasts of the field and the fowls of the air, and that which cometh of the earth, is ordained for the use of man for food and for raiment , and that he might have in abundance.” (Doctrine and Covenants  49:19) So like this Proverb states, we should regard the life of the animal and only kill when it is necessary.

Finally this Proverbs ends nicely with a great reminder to those who like to hear their own voice… “A prudent man concealeth knowledge: but the heart of fools proclaimeth foolishness” (Proverbs 12:23) Those who claim to know it all and keep talking like they know it all will eventually (if not immediately) spew foolishness from their mouths.

Psalms 81-82

Psalms 81-82

Chapter 81: Walk in the Ways of the Lord

To the chief Musician upon Gittith, A Psalm of Asaph

                Here, the Lord speaks to Asaph;

“I am the Lord thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt… But my people would not hearken to my voice… So I gave them up to their own hearts’ lust: and they walked in their own counsels. Oh that my people had hearkened unto me, and Israel had walked in my ways! I should have soon subdued their enemies, and turned my hand against their adversaries.” (Psalms 81:10-14)

We need to remember that God will help us, but because he has given us agency… he will not force us to do anything. If we chose to live without God, he will leave us alone and not help us in our times of need.

Chapter 82: Ye are Gods of the Most High

A Psalm of Asaph

                “God standeth in the congregation of the mighty; he judgeth among the gods” (Psalms 82:1) The Lord God (Jesus Christ) is a God, but not THE GOD (The Father).

“I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High.” (Psalms 82:6)

This is a very important verse. First we learn that we are “gods” notice how it is a lowercase “g” and not an uppercase “G”, because we all have the ability to become “gods” like our Father, or in other words, we have the ability to become like our Father in Heaven. This leads to the second important part of this verse… we are children of the most High God. That means that God is literally OUR FATHER!

Job 32-33

Job 32-33

Chapter 32: Great Men are Not Always Wise

At the end of Job’s persuasive arguments in Job 28-30, his friends had nothing more to say. They still thought that Job was completely wrong, but they felt he was so grounded in his own opinions that it was useless to keep talking with him.

Elihu, the son of Barachel the Buzite, of the family of Ram (who is only mentioned briefly in the book of Job critizes Job and tells him; “But there is a spirit in man: and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth them understanding. Great men are not always wise: neither do the aged understand judgment.” (Job 32:8-9). Although this was an unjust attack on Job, Elihu brought up a good point, great men, even men of great age and experience do not always have the most wisdom. Wisdom is hard to attain, but those who have it and those who are willing to share that wisdom, should be listened to carefully!

Chapter 33: God Speak to Men in Dreams

Elihu continues to challenge Job’s defense. Elihu claims to be a spokesperson for God, while telling Job to listen to all of his words.

“…God is greater than man.” (Job 33:12) Elihu is telling Job, that he needs to be more humble, because God is truly greater than man. Even though Elihu was missing the point that Job was actually a good, humble guy… we can still learn from this. We are not on the same level as God, we need to remember that.

For a man who claims to have so much wisdom, he doesn’t walk the walk, but surely talks the talk.

“For God speaketh once, yea twice, yet man percieveth it not. In a dream, in a vision of the night…” (Job 33:14-15)

Again, we can ignore the words to Job, as I am sure he also ignored them. But take away from the scriptures that God is always trying to communicate with us, so we need to listen. Elihu insists that God has indeed answered Job.

Elihu had just suggested that God spoke to Job in a dream; now he suggests that perhaps God spoke to him through his physical suffering. In the view of Elihu, if Job would only receive and respond to God’s messenger, if he would only admit to God’s uprightness, then he would be restored to God’s favor.

 

Job 30-31

Job 30-31

Chapter 30: Job Weeps for Those in Trouble

At this point Job is pretty upset, men younger than him are mocking him, Job was tortured by the irony of it all. The sons of men whom Job would not even put with the dogs of his flock were now his mockers and critics.

Job was now low in the eyes of these worthless men. Job, continues again to describe his present crisis. He described the persistent, gnawing pains that were ever with him; but for him it was first a crisis of the soul.

Chapter 31: Job Invites Judgment from God

This chapter covers Job’s final answer to his friends and their arguments.

“Doth not he see my ways, and count all my steps? If I have walked with vanity, or if my foot hath hasted to deceit; Let me be weighed in an even balance, that God may know mine integrity. If my step hath turned out of the way, and mine heart walked after mine eyes, and if any blot hath cleaved to mind hands; Then let me sow, and let another eat; yea, let my offspring be rooted out” (Job 31:4-8)

Job says that he is not in the wrong… however, if he is infact in the wrong and he has walked in vanity, he says that he should be punished. Job did not want to lose his integrity before the Lord and therefore, essentially, said let me “reap what I sow”, don’t punish anyone but Job.

Job then continues to expound; “For destruction from God was a terror to me, and by reason of his highness I could not endure. If I have made gold my hope, or have said to the fine gold, Thou art my confidence;” (Job 31:23-24)

Here Job is saying that he was afraid of the Lord and did not put his trust in worldly, material things. This is a lesson we all must remember.

 

Job 21-22

Job 21-22

Chapter 21: The Wicked Sometimes Prosper in this Life

Job begins his address to Zophar and his friends…

“Suffer me that I may speak; and after that I have spoken, mock on” (Job 21:3)

                Job goes on to explain that the wicked sometimes prosper in this life, Job’s crisis was fundamentally spiritual in nature, much more than being a medical crisis, an economic crisis, a social crisis, or a family crisis. His struggle was against God, and he wondered were God was in the midst of this very dark time.

Job speaks out about the wicked who prosper in this life; “They spend their days in wealth… Therefore they say unto God; depart from us; for we desire not the knowledge of thy ways. What is the Almighty, that we should serve him? And what profit should we have, if we pray unto him? (Job 21:13-15)

                Sometimes the wicked do prosper in this life, but with the judgment that will be waiting for them after this life. Job asks an important question; “Ho oft is the candle of the wicked put out…” (Job 21:17). In Job’s rhetorical question, he would answer “Not often enough.” And it would do Job no satisfaction to hear that the judgment would instead come upon the wicked man’s descendants.

Job acknowledged that wickedness was never ultimately rewarded and was always punished in the end. The problem for Job was that it never seemed soon enough that wicked would drink of the wrath of the Almighty. Job suffered in the now, and many of the wicked did not.

I can’t tell you how many times I have felt this exact way… why, if I am doing good, are those who are not seem to be rewarded? It is difficult to swallow at times, but God knows what is going on and will reward the just in His own time and way.

Chapter 22: Eliphaz Accuses Job of Sinning

This begins a third (and shortened) round of debate between Job and his three friends Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar.

Eliphaz begins by attacking Job’s character. Eliphaz essentially asks Job, “What good is he to God?” –  “Can a man be profitable unto God…” (Job 22:2)

Eliphaz heard all of Job’s anguished outpourings to God, and seemed to think that Job simply thought too highly of himself. He wondered why Job thought he was so special, so profitable to God and why he thought God owed him so much.

Eliphaz goes on to describe Job’s great wickedness.

“Will he reprove thee for fear of thee?” (Job 22:4) or essentially; “Is it because of your fear of Him that He corrects you?” Eliphaz pressed the point home to Job. Surely, the catastrophe that came upon Job (which Eliphaz lightly called a “correction”), did not come because Job feared God; it came because Job’s wickedness was great and his iniquity was without end.

Eliphaz goes on to insult Job’s intelligence, by asking him; “Is not God in the height of heaven?” (Job 22:12). Eliphaz instructed Job in the basics of theology, he thought that because Job would not admit his error, he must be fundamentally wrong in his understanding of God. So he begins with the basic idea of the might, majesty, and sovereignty of God.

Eliphaz, after having insulted the very wisdom and knowledge of Job, boldy asks him to; “Acquaint now thyself with him, and be at peace; there good shall come unto thee… If thou return to the Almighty, thou shalt be built up…” (Job 22:21-22). This was great advice for Job, assuming that the problem was sin in Job’s life. Yet we know (on the basis of Job 1-2) that this assumption was wrong, and therefore the advice was wrong.

 

Nehemiah 5-6

Nehemiah 5-6

Chapter 5: Many Jews are in Bondage

There was a great outcry of the people and their wives against their Jewish brethren. For there were those who said that their sons, and their daughters were many; so why not let some of them get grain, so they wouldn’t starve. But there were also some who said, that they have mortgaged their lands, vineyards and houses, so they could buy food during the famine. There were also some who said that they had borrowed money for the king’s tax on their lands and vineyards. Because of this, some families had to offer sons and daughters as servants (slaves) to repay the debt.

And Nehemiah became very angry when he heard their outcry and these words. After serious thought, he rebuked the nobles and rulers, and said told them that each of them is exacting usury (abusing the creditor/debtor relationship with unfair interest rates, etc.) from his brother. So he called a great assembly against them, and told them, that according to their ability they have redeemed their Jewish brethren who were sold to the nations. He then goes on to ask; will you even sell your brethren? Or should they be sold to us? Because of this, they were silenced and found nothing to say. Then he  told them that what they were doing is not good. He then asks them, should you not walk in the fear of our God because of the reproach of the nations, our enemies? Nehemiah begs them to stop the usury! He demands that they restore their lands, their vineyards, their olive groves, and their houses, and a hundredth of the money and the grain, the new wine and the oil, that they had charged them.

So they said that they would restore to them, as Nehemiah had asked, and would require nothing from them.  Then Nehemiah called the priests, and required an oath from them that they would do according to this promise.

From the time that Nehemiah was appointed to be their governor in the land of Judah, from the twentieth year until the thirty-second year of King Artaxerxes, twelve years, neither he nor his brothers ate the governor’s provisions. Nehemiah just continued his work on the wall.

Nehemiah, received much provisions, (one ox, six choice sheep, fowls and an abundance of wine) yet in spite of this he did not demand the governor’s provisions, because the bondage was heavy on this people, he gave them food to the people… to further the Lord’s work.

Chapter 6: Sanballat and Nehemiah

When Sanballat, Tobiah, Geshem the Arab, and the rest of their enemies heard that Nehmiah had rebuilt the wall, and that there were no breaks left in it (though at that time Nehmiah had not hung the doors in the gates), that Sanballat and Geshem sent to me, saying, “…Come, let us meet together… in the plain of Ono…” (Nehmiah 6:2) But they only thought to do him harm. So Nehmiah sent messengers to them, saying, “…I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down: why should the work cease, whilst I leave it, and come down to you?” (Nehemiah 6:3) But they sent him this message four times, and he answered them the same every time. Nehemiah knew of the importance of his work, and couldn’t be bothered with someone who wanted to distract him from that work. We need to always remember that Satan will try to pull us away from what we know is the right thing. Because Satan knows good from evil, and because he made poor choices, he wants everyone to suffer with him. So the next time you are doing good and something or someone tries to get in your way or discourage you… don’t come down and entertain it, turn your back and keep working!

Then Sanballat sent his servant to Nehemiah as before, the fifth time, with an open letter in his hand. In it was written:  “…It is reported among the heathen, and Gashmu saith it, that thou and the Jews think to rebel: for which cause thou buildest the wall, that thou mayest be their king, according to these words. And thou hast also appointed prophets to preach of thee at Jerusalem, saying, There is a king in Judah: and now shall it be reported to the king according to these words. Come now therefore, and let us take counsel together. Then I sent unto him, saying, There are no such things done as thou sayest, but thou feignest them out of thine own heart (make them up out of his own heart). For they all made us afraid, saying, Their hands shall be weakened from the work, that it be not done.” (Nehemiah 6:6-9)

Afterward Nehemiah came to the house of Shemaiah the son of Delaiah, the son of Mehetabel, who was a secret informer; and Shemaiah told them to meet together in the house of God, within the temple, and to close the doors, because they were coming to kill Nehemiah. Nehemiah, asked; should such a man as I flee? And who is there such as I who would go into the temple to save his life? I will not go in!” Then he perceived that God had not sent him at all, but that he pronounced this prophecy against him because Tobiah and Sanballat had hired him. For this reason he was hired, that he should be afraid and act that way and sin, so that they might have cause for an evil report, that they might reproach him.

So the wall was finished on the twenty-fifth day of Elul, in fifty-two days. And it happened, when all their enemies heard of it, and all the nations around them saw these things, that they were very disheartened in their own eyes; for they perceived that this work was done by God.

In those days the nobles of Judah sent many letters to Tobiah, and the letters of Tobiah came to them. For many in Judah were pledged to him, because he was the son-in-law of Shechaniah the son of Arah, and his son Jehohanan had married the daughter of Meshullam the son of Berechiah.