Monthly Archives: July 2013

My Sins For His Righteousness

2 Corinthians 5:21 “For he hath made him to be sin for us,who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him”.

Jesus Christ death;the message is unbelievable,a message of redemption,that is a substitution for sin. This is one of the great verses proclaiming the unbelievable love of God.It is impossible for man to grasp the fact that God made Christ to be sin for us,yet that is exactly what the scripture says.He who knew no sin made to be sin,for the sole that sinneth shall surley die,so for man to live He had to die.

Why was this act necessary? Because man needs more than just righteousness to stand perfect before God.To stand righteous before God is not enough,for man has already sinned.Man already stands guilty of breaking God’s law, and the judgement and condemnation of death has already taken effect upon man. So the condemnation and judgement of sin had to be taken care of. God did this by laying all the sins of man upon Christ,all the guilt and condemnation of sin,God placed it all on Christ and let Him bear it all Himself.God’s purpose for this was that we through Christ death, might be made righteousness of God in Christ.When a person believes in Jesus Christ,I mean really believes,God takes that man’s faith and He counts it as righteousness.The man is not righteous,but God considers the man’s faith in Christ as righteousness.God does this because he loves man so much,so much that he sent His only begotten Son to die that we might have a right to life.Jesus secured righteousness for man.He came into the world to die for man.He came and arose from death and thus conquered death for man,thus His resurrected life could stand for the resurrected life of the believer.

The truth is this God loves His Son Jesus Christ so much, that He honors any man who honors His son by believing in Him and believing Him.When we sincerly trust Christ,God takes that faith and counts it as righteousness,thus He judges us , and treats us,as though we are innocent.We are not innocent,us and God both knows this,but God counts us as innocent because of our faith in Jesus Christ.To God we have died with Christ and rose a new creation.So He had to die in order for us to have life.

Bought And Paid For

1 Corinthians 6:20 “For ye are bought with a price:therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit,which are God’s”.

Paul in this letter to the Corinthians,used some very pointed language in an effort to make people see that they were not the Christians they should be(read verses 9-11).He deals with the fact that the Corinthians were indulging in, and giving pre-eminence to the desires and lust of the flesh. Way too many who profess Christ today,give in to the lust and desires of the flesh,denying the power of God to keep them.

We are a purchased possession.The body is the temple of the Holy Spirit,the spirit of God is to dwell in the temple of man.We are not our own,we can’t do as we will with this body,it no longer belongs to us.God purchased it with the life and blood of His only begotten Son.We were bought with a price,one that no man could pay or repay.Now this body is the property of Christ,to do as He wills,we are just trustees of this earthen vessel.We are to use it wisely and to bring glory to God,by leading lost souls to the salvation of the Lord.So let us live a life of obedience and submit to the will of God, and do His will.Nothing hurts God more than direct disobedience.

Remember! God will allow you to do as you please.Even to your sorrow and destruction,you are the loser not God.God wants us to do His will,and thereby receive blessing for ourself and bring Him glory.

The Good Shepherd

Ezekiel 34:23 ” And I will set up one shepherd over them,and he shall feed them,even my shepherd David;he shall feed them ,and he shall be their shepherd”.

Like discontented sheep ,we often burn the ground running in all the wrong places to satisfy our deepest needs.We are all lost sheep in need of a good shepherd.In the old testiment there were two shepherds which demonstrated important principles about shepherding while showing us a picture of the Good Shepherd.When Moses was a shepherd on the backside of a desert,God gave him 40 years experience tending sheep.Before David fought Goliath,he gave his shepherding credentials to King Saul.He told him how he rescued a lamb out of the mouth of a lion and killed all the enemies of the flock.The sheep didn’t belong to either David or Moses,yet they loved as though they did.

The good news is the Good Shepherd of Israel can be our personal shepherd.Simular to David and his sheep,Jesus can deliever us out of the lion’s mouth of the wicked one(1Pet.5:8) and deliever us out of the demonic activity of all the wild beast of our day(Ps.22:21). No weapon formed against God’s flock shall prosper.He leads us beside still waters and into green pastures.If we are hungry,Jesus comes alongside as the bread of life to fill up ever longing.If we are thirsty,he is the living water to soak every dry place.If we are afraid,He is our shield and defender to bring us to safe and secure pastures.He can nurish and fill our soul with the good things by leading us down the trail of His word,where there are tasty morsels from everlasting to everlasting.

Jesus is our shepherd,let us follow where He leads us that we might thourghly furnished to every good work.Trust in Jesus he will never fail.He is the Good Shepherd who gave His life for the sheep, Now let us give our life to Him.

Gifts For The Temple

Sunday School Lesson

Lesson: Ezra 8:24-30

Golden Text: “And I said unto them, Ye are holy unto the Lord; the vessels are holy also; and the silver and the gold are a freewill offering unto the Lord God of your fathers” (Ezra 8:28).

INTRODUCTION. About eighty years after the first exiles returned to Jerusalem to rebuild the altar and the temple, another group of exiled Israelites left Babylon for Jerusalem. This was the same group we discussed last week. As noted in last week’s lesson, “Fasting and Praying,” this group of returning Jews was led by Ezra, a Levite priest who would later write the book of the Bible that bears his name. God was the moving factor behind the entire journey resulting in the group making the nine hundred mile journey in safety and peace. These exiles carried with them the vessels needed for proper temple worship as well as a great amount of wealth and possessions. All of this was heavy and very costly. Ezra was given the responsibility of making sure that it all arrived in Jerusalem safely. Since this was a large responsibility, Ezra appointed twenty-four men to be responsible for all these items. Their qualifications and the task given to them can be instructive to us and our churches.

II. ASSIGNING RESPONSIBILITY (Ezra 8:24-27). Background for the Lesson: Under king Nebuchadnezzar, the Babylonians invaded Jerusalem on three occasions, looting the temple each time (see II Kings 24:10-13; 25:8-15; II Chronicles 36:7, 18-21). The temple was stripped of all its silver and gold articles before it was destroyed, and Nebuchadnezzar put the golden and silver vessels in the treasure house of his god. However, Jeremiah had prophesied that these precious articles would be returned to the Jerusalem (see Jeremiah 27:19-22). After the Persians defeated the Babylonians, under Cyrus, king of Persia, the Jews were allowed to return to their homeland, but the king provided precious materials for rebuilding the temple. Among these materials were the same vessels that Nebuchadnezzar had taken away (see Ezra 1:7-11). When the first group of exiles, headed by Zerubbabel returned to Jerusalem, some of the Jewish heads of families also contributed large amounts of gold and silver to help in the rebuilding of the temple (see Ezra 2:68-69). When Ezra led this second group of exiles back to Jerusalem, Artaxerxes who was now the king of Persia, gave more wealth to be used in the temple worship and also to buy supplies needed for continuous worship (see Ezra 7:11-20). Our printed text actually falls between verses 23 and 31 from last week’s lesson entitled “Fasting and Praying.”

A. The men chosen (Ezra 8:24). Our text begins with Ezra writing “Then I separated twelve of the chief of the priests, Sherebiah, Hashabiah, and ten of their brethren with them.” Realizing that being responsible for safely delivering all the wealth he was given for the temple in Jerusalem, Ezra “separated” or chose men he trusted to guard the treasures. He divided the responsibility among “twelve of the chief of the priests” and also “Sherebiah, Hashabiah, and ten of their brethren with them.” At first glance it appears that Ezra only chose twelve men, two who are named and ten who are not named. However, in Ezra 8:18-19, the two men that Ezra named, “Sherebiah, Hashabiah” are listed as Levites not priests. Remember, all priests were Levites, but not all Levites were priests. Therefore, we should understand that Ezra chose twenty-four men, twelve prominent priests (none of them are named here) and twelve Levites who were “Sherebiah, Hashabiah, and ten of their brethren with them.” Note: Ezra, having studied the law thoroughly, knew that it commanded that the priests were to handle the sacred objects of the temple and the Levites were to carry them (see Numbers chapters 3&4). No doubt Ezra wanted to apply the law to this situation as closely as possible considering that disobedience to God’s law had led to Israel’s captivity in the first place.

B. The riches distributed (Ezra 8:25-27).

1. (vs. 25). Continuing from the previous verse, Ezra writes “And weighed unto them the silver, and the gold, and the vessels, even the offering of the house of our God, which the king, and his counsellors, and his lords, and all Israel there present, had offered.” After choosing the twenty-four men to guard the wealth they carried with them, Ezra “weighed unto them the silver, and the gold, and the vessels.” In Ezra’s time, wealth was measured by weight not by coins or paper notes. Ezra noted three categories of wealth (1) “the silver” (2) “the gold” and (3) “the vessels.” The “vessels” or utensils used in temple worship were made of gold and silver, but they were finished products. The “silver, and the gold” were raw materials to be used as a form of exchange for goods. Included in this wealth was an “offering” given to the house of God by “the king, and his counsellors, and his lords.” This is a reference to the king of Persia and his advisors and royal officials. In addition, Ezra said included in the riches that he weighed out was what “all Israel there present, had offered.” This refers to all the Jews who were still living in exile, particularly in Babylon (see Ezra 7:16). Note: Freewill giving had been practiced since the beginning of Jewish history. Freewill sacrifices were brought to the tabernacle and temple along with the prescribed offerings (see Leviticus 22:18-19, 21; Deuteronomy 12:6; I Chronicles 31:4). These freewill gifts also provided much of the money needed to rebuild the temple (see Ezra 1:4-6).

2. (vs. 26). In this verse Ezra writes “I even weighed unto their hand six hundred and fifty talents of silver, and silver vessels an hundred talents, and of gold an hundred talents.” Here Ezra tells us the amount of riches He weighed. He said he “weighed unto their hand” meaning he gave to the twenty-four men he had chosen, first “six hundred and fifty talents of silver.” The “talent” was the largest unit of weight and is equal to between seventy-five and one hundred pounds. Therefore “six hundred and fifty talents” of silver weighed about twenty-five tons. The weight of the “silver vessels” was “an hundred talents” or about three and three-quarter tons, and the “gold an hundred talents” or about the same as the silver vessels. So, as we can see, they had much to carry and it was an extremely heavy load.

3. (vs. 27). This verse says Ezra also weighed “twenty basons (or bowls) of gold, of a thousand drams; and two vessels of fine copper, precious as gold.” We are not sure of what the Hebrew word for “drams” is, but many accept it to refer to Persian coins called darics which was first minted by king Darius of Persia. These were pure gold oval coins with the king’s face on one side. The “twenty basons (or bowls) of gold” weighed “a thousand drams,” or about nineteen pounds. And finally, there were “two vessels of fine copper, precious as gold.” The term “copper” comes from a verb meaning “to gleam” or “to shine.” This would suggest that these “two vessels of fine copper” may have been an alloy or mixture of bronze and copper polished to an unusually bright appearance. Apparently they were so bright that they looked like gold. We are not told what these “two vessels of fine copper” weighed, but it had to be worth plenty.

III. GIVING A CHARGE (Ezra 8:28-29)

A. The basis for the charge (Ezra 8:28). In this verse Ezra writes “And I said unto them, Ye are holy unto the Lord; the vessels are holy also; and the silver and the gold are a freewill offering unto the Lord God of your fathers.” Ezra here gives the reason why the twenty-four men were chosen to protect and guard the riches. He said “Ye are holy unto the Lord; the vessels are holy also; and the silver and the gold are a freewill offering unto the Lord God of your fathers.” Not only were these men holy, but so were the objects they carried for the Lord. Ezra reminded them that they were among those in Israel who had been set apart to serve the Lord. Their stewardship over the wealth was part of their service. The word “holy” means “to separate or set apart for God’s use.” Because God is holy, He is totally separate from anything unclean or imperfect (see Exodus 15:11; Isaiah 6:3; Revelation 4:8). Therefore anything or anyone set apart for God’s use is also considered holy. This applied to the tabernacle and its furnishings (see Exodus 40:9), as well as the temple (see Psalms 65:4), and the holy city of Jerusalem (see Nehemiah 11:1). The priests were holy (see Leviticus 21:6, 8) as were the Levites (see II Chronicles 35:3) and also the vessels used in worship (see II Chronicles 5:5). Note: In the Christian church, or the body of Christ, there are no separate classes of people set apart to God who are holier than others. Even though we respect the clergy for their ministry of the Word, Scripture teaches us that everyone who has been redeemed by Christ’s blood are holy before Him (see I Peter 2:9; Revelation 1:5-6). Therefore, everything we are, do, or have should be considered sanctified or holy unto the Lord. The way we handle our wealth should also be considered a holy activity. God has entrusted us who are holy with wealth, regardless of the amount thus making us stewards and responsible for handling it with care. As a result, we should give generously to God’s work and to the needs of others (see II Corinthians 9:7; I Timothy 6:17-18; Hebrews 13:16).

B. The nature of the charge (Ezra 8:29). In this verse, Ezra continues to say to the chosen twenty-four men, “Watch ye, and keep them, until ye weigh them before the chief of the priests and the Levites, and chief of the fathers of Israel, at Jerusalem, in the chambers of the house of the Lord.” Regarding the riches they were carrying, Ezra urged them to “Watch ye, and keep them.” The word “watch” has the idea of staying alert. They were to constantly be aware of their surroundings. The term “keep” means to “carefully guard” something. These men were expected to be alert and carefully guard the wealth they were now responsible for. They had to make sure it was not stolen by attacking bandits or dishonest persons travelling with them. They were to do this “until ye weigh them before the chief of the priests and the Levites, and chief of the fathers of Israel, at Jerusalem, in the chambers of the house of the Lord.” These twenty-four priests and Levites were to protect the riches until they reached Jerusalem. But before they could deliver all of it to the leaders in the temple at Jerusalem, it all had to be weighed again when the journey was completed. At that time the two weights, the one from when they left Babylon and the one when they arrived at Jerusalem could be compared to confirm that the guards had delivered exactly what had been originally entrusted to them. The fact that the riches would be weighed “before the chief of the priests and the Levites, and chief of the fathers of Israel, at Jerusalem” indicates that Ezra wanted to have plenty of witnesses when these gifts were weighed “in the chambers of the house of the Lord.” The phrase “chief of the fathers of Israel” refers to the heads of Jewish households. In verse 33 which is not part of our text, the names of two priest and two Levites who did the final weighing are given.

IV. FULFILLING THE TASK (Ezra 8:30). Our final verse says “So took the priests and the Levites the weight of the silver, and the gold, and the vessels, to bring them to Jerusalem unto the house of our God.” This tells us that the mission was finally completed. The twenty-four associates Ezra chose accepted their responsibilities and took “the weight of the silver, and the gold, and the vessels.” In other words, they accepted these riches whose values had been determined by weight. They willingly submitted to Ezra’s charge that they be responsible for these gifts. We must understand that the mission was not complete just by reaching Jerusalem. Since these precious metals were all dedicated for sacred use in the temple, the mission was not complete until it all was delivered to the temple.Note:This lesson presents a wonderful example of men who had a clear sense of stewardship over the material goods that had been entrusted to them.Ezra set the pattern with godly leadership.He had the wisdom to delegate responsibility to others and to inspire them with a sense of holy mission.But godly leaders must also have godly and loyal followers.Ezra’s mission was successful because the chosen priests and Levites willingly carried out his instructions.They shared his zeal and submitted to his authority.They also demonstrated integrity and honesty.They showed courage in protecting what was entrusted to them.However, most of all, they understood that they and the riches they guarded were holy, belonging exclusively to God. For sure, that kind of dedication is still needed to further the work of Jesus’ church today.

V. Conclusion. The Lord had orchestrated the return of Jewish exiles back to Jerusalem after 70 years of captivity. The temple had been rebuilt and now He was sending a second group of people back to carry the precious metals to be used in the temple so that worship could once again continue. Through Ezra’s leadership, honest men were chosen to guard the material goods being taken back to Jerusalem for use in the temple. Holy people carry God’s treasure for the Holy God. Only He determines what it is, who must carry it, and where it must go.