VASHTI, Deposed Queen of King Xerxes

Queen Vashti (“Beautiful Woman”) was the first wife of King Xerxes/Ahasuerus in the book of Esther.  She was banished for her refusal to appear at the king’s banquet… and Esther was eventually chosen to succeed her as queen.

I.  A Banquet for the King’s Political Officials… Esther 1:1-4

Officials from 127 provinces, stretching from India to Ethiopia… were invited to a 6-month celebration!

 

II.  A Banquet for the King’s Palace Officials  (Esther 1:5-22)

Apparently, as a “Thank You” for helping with the previous banquet, King Xerxes gave another banquet for his palace officials.

-  The Details… Esther 1:5-9

The palace was richly decorated; all present were encouraged to gorge themselves for 7 days!

-  The Drunkenness… Esther 1:10

Be the final day, the king was VERY drunk.

-  The Demand… Esther 1:11

The king viewed Vashti as his “trophy wife”.  He ordered to come and parade her beauty before his drunken officials.

-  The Defiance… Esther 1:12

Queen Vashti refused the order of her king.

-  The Dilemma… Esther 1:13-18

The king found himself in a dilemma; how could he save face?  He consulted his advisors concerning Vashti’s defiance… and the convinced him that her actions might spark a rebellion among the women of the kingdom.

By the way, Harriet Beecher Stowe called Vashti’s disobedience the “first stand for woman’s rights”.

-  The Decision… Esther 1:19,20

The advisors recommended that the king should banish his queen from the palace.

-  The Decree… Esther 1:21,22

King Xerxes followed his advisors’ counsel, and decreed that each man should be the ruler of his own home… including himself!

Then, he began to look for a new queen… which would lead him to Esther.

 

LifeAPP:

Vashti lost her position as Queen of Persia when she refused the king’s command to show herself off to the king’s guests.

While Vashti’s strength of character earns our admiration, we also see God’s sovereign hand at work in her situation… because Esther’s resulting “promotion” put her in a position to save God’s people from being massacred.

*  God’s purpose ALWAYS trumps any king’s decision.

Sometimes, the decisions we make – even those that don’t seem to make sense – can be used in God’s overall plan.

 

You can read Vashti’s story in Esther 1.

XERXES/AHASUERUS, King of Persia

The name Ahasuerus is Xerxes in the Greek… both coming from the old Persian language.  He factors into one of the greatest dramas in history… one that stars a woman!  You’ll want to take a few minutes and look up the Scripture passages to read this story…

I.  The Danger to God’s People

-  The Divorce of Vashti  (Esther 1:1-5,7-12,15-22)

Like many leaders of his time, Xerxes indulged his desires for women.  As king, he simply drafted them into his harem.  Sometimes they were gifts that sealed political treaties.

Most of us don’t have the means to get everything we want; kings do.  Xerxes saw people as things to be used or thrown away… depending on his whim at the time.

-  The Discovery of Esther  (Esther 2:1-9,12-18)

-  The Devotion of Mordecai  (Esther 2:21-23)

-  The Decree of Haman  (Esther 3:1,2,8-15)

Xerxes saw people as objects.  So much so, he casually approved a plan to wipe out the whole Jewish people!  Devaluing persons was part of his daily routine.

LifeAPP:

Whether or not we have the means to get whatever we might want in an given moment, we can be just as self-centered as Xerxes.  The way we treat others serves as a measure of our character.

* We reveal our self-centeredness by the way we treat others.

 

II.  The Decision of God’s Servant

-  Mordecai’s Appeal to Esther  (Esther 4:1-14)

-  Esther’s Audience with Xerxes  (Esther 5:1-8)

-  Haman’s Arrogance over Mordecai  (Esther 5:9-14)

 

III.  The Deliverance of God’s People

-  The Defeat of Haman  (Esther 6:1-14; 7:1-10)

-  The Decree of Xerxes & Mordecai  (Esther 8:1-17)

-  The Defeat of the Jews’ Enemies  (Esther 9:1-19)

God was still God… and Xerxes could only do what God allowed.

 

In Ezra 4:6-24, the 2nd temple had been rebuilt… but the city walls were still lying in rubble.  As the rebuilding project began, the Jews struggled through 2 temptations:

1)  to compromise their standards, and

2)  coercion by their own people.

When that didn’t stop the work, their enemies asked King Xerxes to halt the rebuilding project.

-  The Message to the King  (Ezra 4:6-16)

-  The Message from the King  (Ezra 4:17-24)

 

You can read the biblical account of King Xerxes in the book of Esther, and Ezra 4:6-24.

ZECHARIAH, “Minor” Prophet to the Returning Exiles

Zechariah (Yahweh Has Remembered) was the 11th of the “minor” prophets, and the author of the book of Zechariah. He was a prophet to the returning exiles of Judah, and, like Ezekiel, was also a priest.

See Zechariah 1:1-6.

Zechariah’s prophetic career began in the 2nd year of Darius, King of Persia (520BC), about 16years after the return of the first group from their Babylonian exile. He was contemporary with Haggai (Ezra 5:1), but, while Haggai spoke through poetry, Zechariah spoke through visions.

- The Visions of Zechariah

* The Visions of the Horses & Riders (Zech. 1:7-17) Though God’s people were oppressed, God was still very concerned about His people and would restore them.

* The Vision of the 4 Horns & 4 Workmen (Zech. 1:18-21)

God would use the power of 4 Gentile nations (Assyria, Egypt, Babylonia, & Medo-Persia), but His promise of Gen. 12:3 would prevail.

* The Vision of the Surveyor (Zech. 2:1-4,5-13) God’s standard is the one true standard.

* The Vision of Joshua the High Priest (Zech. 3:1-10) God affirmed Jeshua the high priest as being God’s man doing God’s work.

* The Vision of the Golden Lampstand & the Olive Trees (Zech. 4:1-14)

* The Vision of the Flying Scroll (Zech. 5:1-4)

* The Vision of the Woman in a Basket (Zech. 5:5-11)

* The Vision of the 4 Chariots (Zech. 6:1-8)

* The Crowning of Jeshua (Zech. 6:9-15)

- Questions Concerning Fasts (Zech. 7:1–8:23)

- Restoration of the Temple Resumed

* The Prophets in Judah… Ezra 5:1,2

For more than 10years, Jerusalem’s most important construction site was vacant and quiet. The work on the 2nd temple had come to a halt. Zechariah was one of the prophets who stepped into that silence and called the people back to work.

* The Potentate in Persia

1) The Rebuke (Ezra 5:3-5)

2) The Report (Ezra 5:6-16)

3) The Reply (Ezra 6:1-12)

4) The Results (Ezra 6:13-22)

Zechariah served the dual role of priest and prophet. But, he had always been a priest without a temple.

Having been persuaded to return to work, the people of Jerusalem finished the work in just 4years! Zechariah – who, according to Ezra, was instrumental in motivating the people to carry on – was there to dedicate the new building to God who had brought them back from despair (Ezra 6:13-18).

LifeAPP:

What is the best way to judge preaching? By the eloquence of one’s words? By how pleasing those words sound? Or by whose words they are: the preachers words or God’s words?

Zechariah (along with Haggai) prophesied during a time when the Jews of Jerusalem were trying to rebuild their city and temple. Harassment from their neighbors had slowed progress… so Zechariah’s message was clear and forceful: “Keep building! It’s what God wants! You can do it!”

Zechariah was too determined to let a little opposition spoil the Jews’ resolve to finish what God had called them to do, so he encouraged and helped the people. And it made a big difference! The people listened to his words and were stirred to action.

LifeAPP:

- Common sense is important… as is experience-based wisdom. But neither can substitute for the Word of God.

- Sometimes we get discouraged. We hear bad news, or face a setback, or think all is lost, and we want to give up. We want to quit. But, we need to remember God is still alive! His ways WILL prevail! Nothing is impossible with God!

- You may need to be that friend who encourages and helps someone who is discouraged!

- The Visions concerning the Future (Zech. 9:1–14:21)

You can read Zechariah’s story and prophecy in the book of Zechariah & Ezra 5,6.

HAGGAI, Prophet of Judea after the Exile

Haggai was a Hebrew prophet during the building of the 2nd temple in Jerusalem, after the exiles returned from Babylonian Captivity.  He is one of the “minor” prophets in the Bible and the author of the book of Haggai.  His name means “My Holiday”.  He was the first of the 3 post-exile prophets (with Zechariah & Malachi) who belong to that period of time after the return.

Almost nothing is known of his personal life.  He may have been one of the captives taken to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar, or he may have been born during the 70years there.  He began his ministry about 16years after the return to Judah.  The work of rebuilding the temple had been halted through interruptions by the Samaritans.  After an 18year stall, the work was resumed through the efforts of Haggai & Zechariah encouraging Zerubbabel & Jeshua.  The 2 prophets encouraged the leaders and the people, which roused them from their lethargy, and induced them to take advantage of a change in policy of the Persian government under Darius the Great.

 

-  Intro…  Hag. 1:1,2; Ezra 5:1;6:14

Look for the 4 appeals, each introduced by “the word of the Lord came…

I.  A Call to Construction of the Temple

*  The Reprimand  (Hag. 1:3-6)

*  The Remedy  (Hag. 1:7,8)

*  The Rebuke from God (Hag. 1:9-11)

*  The Reaction of the People  (Hag. 1:12-15)

II.  A Call to Courage in God  (Hag. 2:1-9)

III.  A Call to Clean Living  (Hag. 2:10-19)

IV.  A Call to Confidence in the Future  (Hag. 2:20-23)

 

Haggai could be called the “1year prophet”.  God gave him a very specific mission that required him to deliver 4 messages over the course of 1year.  He was speaking to Jews who had been home from the Babylon exile for almost 20years.  He criticized them for looking after their own  comfort while leaving the rebuilding of the temple undone.

Haggai used the condition of the temple as a metaphor to illustrate the spiritual life of people.  Their relationship with God was in shambles, and needed to be rebuilt… from the bottom up.

LifeAPP:

Haggai’s message reminds us that the daily habits of our relationship with God (church attendance/fellowship, outreach, discipleship, worship, ministry, etc) need constant attention.  If you’ve been letting some spiritual things slide, ask God to show you how this affects your fellowship with Him.

*  Great things come with a restored relationship with God.

 

You can read Haggai’s story and sermons in the book of Haggai; & Ezra 5,6.

DARIUS, King of Persia

Darius 1, also called Darius the Great, was the third king of the Persian Empire.

Ezra 4:1-5.

The rebuilding of the temple by the returning exiles was frustrated… and even halted… during the final years of Cyrus’ reign.  The Darius became ruler.  See Ezra 4:24; 5:1.

Haggai 1:1-5; Zechariah 1:1-6.

The foundation for the temple had been laid, but the work had been stopped… for about 16yrs.  That’s when 2 prophets, Haggai & Zechariah, were called to encourage the people to finish the job.

Ezra 5:2–6:18.

The decree of Darius.

Daniel 6.

I.  A Hostile Plan  (Dan. 6:1-9)

Though King Darius of Persia was the most powerful man on earth during his lifetime, even he was forced to recognize that God is sovereign over all things.  And that we are all dependent on Him.

Darius was a wise and powerful king… but it seems he was a little gullible when it came to the crafty schemes of a few Jewish officials.  They were jealous of the power and prestige of Daniel the prophet, because he had been promoted to 2nd-in-command of the Persian Empire.  Daniel’s only “flaw” seemed to have been his complete devotion to God, to whom he prayed 3 times a day.  So, the officials were able to talk Darius into passing a decree that required everyone to pray only to the king for 1 month.  He had no idea what that would mean for his friend, Daniel…

 

II.  A Holy Man  (Dan. 6:10-15)

Daniel, of course, continued to pray to God… and was promptly arrested.  When Darius realized Daniel would be thrown into a den of lions for his “crime”, he was distraught.  But, even he could not undo anything he had signed into law.

 

III.  A Heavenly Ban  (Dan. 6:16-28)

So, all Darius could do was pray… that God Himself would save Daniel.  And God DID save Daniel!  And Darius rejoiced!!

Darius made a new law… declaring that everyone should have an awesome reverence for the God of Daniel.

 

LifeAPP:

You’ll want to read the story of Daniel in the lions’ den, in Dan. 6.  It will remind you of Daniel’s faithfulness… and the impact that had on the most powerful person on the planet!

 

You can read Darius’ story in Ezra 4-6; Haggai 1; Zechariah 1; & Daniel 6.

JESHUA/JOSHUA, High Priest to the Exiles

Jeshua/Joshua the high priest was, according to the Bible, the first person chosen to be the high priest for the reconstruction of the temple after the return of the Judean exiles from Babylon Captivity.  Ezra & Nehemiah refer to him as Jeshua; Haggai & Zechariah refer to him as Joshua.

Ezra 2:2,64-66

Jeshua had plenty of reasons to wallow in his troubles.  He lived during the time when all the leaders of Judah and their families had been exiled to Babylon.  Exile stripped them of everything they had before – property, prestige, power.  But, now they were returning home.  Most felt hopeless.

We’re not told how old Jeshua was; whether he was boy or a young man when taken to Babylon… or whether he was born during the 70year exile.  But, on their return, many of the exiles would be looking to him for leadership.

LifeAPP:

When hard times come, a person can choose either to wallow or to work.  Jeshua chose to work.

 

Ezra 3:2,3,8,9,10-13

As soon as they returned to Judah, they set up the altar so daily sacrifices prescribed in Scripture could continue.  Then they got to work rebuilding the temple and completing the foundation.

Ezra 4:1-5,24

Haggai 1:12-15

Seldom has a sermon had such an immediate impact!  See Hag. 2:1-4.

Zechariaah 3:1-10; 6:9-13

After a 15-year delay in the project, due to opposition from hostile neighbors, the prophets Hagggai & Zechariah stirred up Jeshua & Zerubbabel to finish the temple.

Zechariah the prophet experienced a vision given to him by an angel of the Lord, in which the restoration and cleansing of Jeshua’s priestly duties were affirmed.  Included in this vision were requirements Jeshua was expected to uphold.  These included:

1)  Walking in the ways of the Lord,

2)  Keeping the requirements of the law, and

3)  Ruling God’s House, taking charge of the courts.

By fulfilling these duties, the angel granted access to the inner temple to Jeshua and his fellow priest.  The vision also served to purify Jeshua and to sanctify him for the preparations of his priestly duties.

Ezra 5:1,2

And the work was finally completed (Ezra 5,6).

LifeAPP:

Despite everything they had lost, and the hardships they endured, Jeshua & Zerubbabel rebuilt the altar and the temple and focused on God.

We all face tough times… and we each have the same opportunity to make the right choice as they did.

Don’t wallow in your misery, but work to bring God glory!

 

You can read Jeshua’s story in Ezra 2-6; Haggai 1,2; & Zechariah 3,6.

ZERUBBABEL, Who Led the 1st Group of Returning Exiles

If Zerubbabel was his Hebrew name, he was “the One Sown of Babylon”; if a Babylonian name, “Seed of Babylon”.  He is mentioned in 5 books of the Bible; his story is told in 3…

See Hag. 2:23; Zech. 4:8-10.

When the Persians conquered the Babylonians in 539BC (the Babyloniaans took Jerusalem in 586BC), the Persian king, Cyrus, gave the Jews exiled in Babylon permission to go back home… under his authority… and rebuild their temple.

 

I.  The Decree  (Ezra 1:1-4)

70 years after Judean captivity.

 

II.  The Donations  (Ezra 1:6-11; 2:68-70)

Many of the Jews who decided to stay in Babylon… but gave gold, silver and supplies for the journey.

King Cyrus gave back the valuable temple items Nebuchadnezzar had taken.

When the exiles finally get to Jerusalem, some people there will also give gold, silver, and robes for the priests.

 

III.  The Dedicated  (Ezra 1:5; 2:1-67)

Nearly 50,000 Jews went back, led by Zerubbabel… along with 736 horses, 245 mules, 435 camels, and 6,270 donkeys.

Sheshbazzar is mentioned as the one to whom all items and responsibility were entrusted… then he seems to disappear, and Zerubbabel is the prominent one.  So, what happened to Sheshbazzar?

1)  Are they the same person? or

2)  Is Sheshbazzar actually Shenazzar, Zerubbabel’s uncle, mentioned in Chronicles… and probably died? or

3)  Did Sheshbazzar begin the work and Zerubbabel finish it… possibly upon Sheshbazzar’s death?

Zerubbabel, who was the grandson of Jehoiachin and a descendant of King David, was the man chosen to lead the exiles back to the Promised Land.  His name implied he belonged to Babylon, but he never did; he was always God’s man.  In all the accounts of Zerubbabel, a high priest named Joshua/Jeshua is always mentioned with him… a sidekick.

It must have been a bittersweet journey; what would they find back at Jerusalem? It would not be as it was before.  They would still be under Persian authority.

 

IV.  The Determination  (Ezra 3:1-9)

Zerubbabel could not restore Judah’s sovereignty, but he would try to restore their relationship with God.

-  The altar was rebuilt  (Ezra 3:1-3)

-  The Feast of the Tabernacles was observed  (Ezra 3:4-6)

-  The Temple Construction began  (Ezra 3:7-9)

 

V.  The Dedication  (Ezra 3:10-13)

Upon seeing the foundation of the new temple, there was singing by the young ones and sorrow by the old ones…

 

Rebuilding the Temple

I.  Hindrances to the Project  (Ezra 4:1-24)

-  Tempted to Compromise  (Ezra 4:1-3)

-  Attempted Coercion  (Ezra 4:4,5)

Zerubbabel bravely stood firm against a sham offer of help by their enemies, and discouragement by their enemies.  When that failed, his enemies lobbied Cyrus’ successor, King Artaxerxes… who forced a halt on building.

 

II.  Headway on the Project  (Ezra 5:1–6:22)

For 12 years, those in Jerusalem, including Zerubbabel & Joshua, stared at the abandoned foundation… everyday… a constant reminder of their failure to finish what God had given them to do.

-  The Prophets in Judah  (Ezra 5:1,2)

It took the prophets Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi (especially the 1st two) to come alongside and challenge them to finish the work (Hag. 1:1-3).

-  The Potentate in Persia  (Ezra 5:3–6:22)

Darius was now king (Ezra 5:17; 6:3-5,8,11,12,15,16)

In just 4 years, the temple was finished!

 

LifeAPP:

So, who gets the credit for the rebuilt temple?  King Cyrus of Persia?  Zerubbabel?  Joshua the priest?  Haggai?  Zechariah? Malachi?  King Darius?

“‘This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the Lord Almighty.”‘ - Zech. 4:6

God gets the credit!  God should ALWAYS get the credit!!

 

You can read Zerubbabel’s story in 1Chronicles 3:19; Ezra 1:1–6:22; Nehemiah 12:1; Haggai 1:1–2:23; Zechariah 1:1–8:23.

CYRUS (the Great), King of Persia

Cyrus 2 of Persia, commonly known as Cyrus the Great (also known as Cyrus the Elder), was the founder of the Achaemenid Empire (modern-day Iran). Under his rule, the empire embraced all the previous civilized states of the ancient Near East, and then expanded on that to include most of southwest & central Asia. He created the largest empire the world had ever seen to that point!

The reign of Cyrus the Great lasted about 30years. He built his empire by conquering the Median Empire, then the Lydian Empire, & eventually the Neo-Babylonian Empire.

God had promised to deliver His people from Babylon. Through Isaiah, God even named the one through whom His rescue would come about; see Is. 44:28; 45:1. These words of comfort came to God’s people just before Babylon fell to Cyrus’ army; see Is. 44:24–45:13.

 

Prior to Cyrus’ invasion of Babylon, the Neo-Babylonian Empire had conquered many kingdoms. In 539BC, 11yrs after the young general named Cyrus had become the mighty king of Persia, he marched – practically unopposed – into the city of Babylon and took it; see Is. 21:1-10.

History records how Cyrus captured the city of Babylon. He diverted water from the mighty Euphrates River, which protected several gates of the city. When the water was low enough, he and his foot soldiers crossed… and entered the city virtually unopposed.

Cyrus was received by the Babylonian people with shouts of joy!

After taking Babylon, Cyrus the Great proclaimed himself “King of Babylon, King of Sumer & Akkad, King of the 4 Corners of the World”; see Ezra 1:2.

 

Cyrus the Great respected the customs and religions of the lands he conquered. He demanded political obedience, especially as it came to paying taxes, but he allowed religious freedom… and his taxes were no more burdensome than what was usual before he conquered a people; see 2Chron. 36:22,23; Ezra 1:1-8.

 

LifeAPP:

- For Cyrus…

He is considered one of the most powerful rulers in the history of the world! Yet, even Cyrus “the Great” was ultimately a tool in the hands of God. God said of Cyrus in Is. 44:28: “He is My shepherd, and he shall carry out My purpose”. Isaiah was able to foretell that Cyrus would rebuild the temple of God in Jerusalem. Just as God said, Cyrus conquered Babylon and decreed that all the Jews who had been exiled to Babylon could return to their homeland if they wanted to rebuild their temple.

- For God’s People…

It marked the end of the 70yr Judean exile in Babylon. These 70yrs had brought much change in God’s people; their faith was no longer identified with a temple, but with Scripture. Their worship centers became synagogues… which stressed the reading of the Torah (the 1st 5 books of the Bible). The exiled Judeans had become a people of the Book!

 

You can read the biblical account of Cyrus’ story in Isaiah 21,44,45; 2 Chronicles 36:22,23; & Ezra 1.

BELSHAZZAR, King of Babylon

Belshazzar’s name means “Bel, Protect the King”.  He was a 6th-century BC prince of Babylon, and the last king of Babylon.

Many years before Belshazzar, Nebuchadnezzar 2 had invaded Judah and exiled many of the best and brightest people to Babylon.  He also destroyed the temple in Jerusalem and carried away many of the gold utensils to his own palace.  Time went by…

Babylon’s might quickly declined during the reign of Nabonidus.  He had left the city of Babylon to live in an oasis in the Arabian Desert  and worship the moon god, Sin.  He had left his son, Belshazzar, as prince/regent over the city.

 

I.  The Ball  (Dan. 5:1)

Belshazzar, while serving as prince/regent, held a great banquet for all his officials… about a thousand people.

 

II.  The Gall  (Dan. 5:2-4)

During the festivities, Belshazzar ordered the vessels of gold, that were taken from the temple in Jerusalem, to be brought so everyone can drink wine from them and praise their gods… the gods of gold, silver, bronze, iron, wood, and stone.

 

III.  The Wall

-  The Hand  (Dan. 5:5)

A man’s hand appeared and started to write on a wall.

-  The Horror  (Dan. 5:6)

Belshazzar’s countenance is stated to have “changed”.

Belshazzar was used to being in control.  But, suddenly, he was confronted with a force he could not control – a hand writing strange words on a  wall.

 

IV.  The Call

-  To the Magicians  (Dan. 5:7-9)

Belshazzar cried out to bring in his astrologers, Chaldeans and soothsayers… whoever interpreted the writing would be made the 3rd-highest ruler in kingdom.  But, none of them could interpret it.

-  To the Prophet

*  The Recommendation  (Dan. 5:10-12)

The queen suggested that he call for Daniel, who was – by now – an old man.  Nebuchadnezzar 2 had made him his chief of the Magicians, Astrologers, Chaldeans, and Soothsayers.

*  The Reward  (Dan. 5:13-16)

*  The Refusal  (Dan. 5:17)

*  The Rebuke  (Dan. 5:18-23)

*  The Revelation  (Dan. 5:24-28)

Daniel interpreted the writing, what it meant for Belshazzar, and the consequences for him.  God had numbered Belshazzar’s days, because he failed to measure up to God’s standard.  His kingdom would be handed over to the Medes & Persians.

*  The Robing  (Dan. 5:29)

In a futile attempt to win God’s favor and escape God’s judgment, Belshazzar clothed Daniel in purple and proclaimed him 3rd ruler in the kingdom.

 

V.  The Fall  (Dan. 5:30,31)

That very night, the prophecy came true… and Belshazzar was killed.

The Midrash tradition states that Cyrus & Darius were employed as doorkeepers of the royal palace.  Belshazzar, being greatly alarmed at the mysterious “writing on the wall”… and wondering if someone in disguise might enter the palace with murderous intent… ordered his doorkeepers to behead everyone who attempted to force an entrance that night, even if such a person should claim to be the king himself.  Belshazzar, overcome by sickness, left the palace unobserved during the night by a rear exit.  On his return, the doorkeepers refused to admit him.  In vain, he pleaded that he was the king.  They remembered the king’s words… saying they should kill anyone who tried to get in, especially if they claimed to be the king… so, they grabbed a heavy part of a candelabra and smashed Belshazzar’s skull with it!

 

LifeAPP:

Sooner or later, we will all come to the realization  that terrified Belshazzar… that we are NOT in control of our own destiny.

Will we shrink back from it like Belshazzar did – choosing a life lived for our own wants and desires?  Or, will we humbly turn to God and ask Him to lead the way?

Don’t be lulled into a false sense of security because of your own power, wealth, or status.  Give thanks to God who shapes your destiny and lights your path!

*  In all your ways, acknowledge God!  See Proverbs 3:5,6.

 

You can read Belshazzar’s story in Daniel 5.

OBADIAH, Old Testament Prophet to Edom

Obadiah’s tiny prophecy – the shortest book in the Bible – takes just a minute or two to read.  But, for the nation of Edom – to whom it was directed – its words had a BIG impact!

Obadiah’s name means “Servant of Yahweh”, or “Worshiper of Yahweh”.  12 men in the Bible have this same name.

Aside from the meaning of his name, little is known about Obadiah; we know nothing of his family, his home, or his background.

Obadiah was a Judean prophet, but his prophecy was directed at the Edomites, longtime enemies of God’s people.  Hundreds of years before, the Edomites would not let the Hebrews pass through Edom on their way to the Promised Land… even though they were distant cousins of each other.  King David eventually conquered Edom, but Edom was able to take back control during the time of the following kings.  When other nations attacked Israel or Judah, Edom either sided with the enemy or ignored the calls for help.

The tension between God’s people and Edom actually went all the way back to their ancestors, Jacob & Esau.  The two twins drew a line in the sand  when Jacob tricked Esau into getting Esau’s birthright.

 

At the time of Obadiah’s writing, Israel & Edom’s destinies seemed to have been reversed.  The people of Judah (Jacob) had been promised blessing, but were facing destruction.  While, Edom had been promised second place… it seemed they were on top!

Obadiah warned the Edomites – his distant cousins – not to gloat over Judah’s hardship.  He warned that the same fate was awaiting Edom, as well!

Obadiah saw a bright future for the exiles of Judah… while Edom would be erased from history.

LifeAPP:

Regardless of how things seem, if God says it is so… it is so.  If God says it was… it was.  If God says it will be… it will be.  In times of uncertainty, trust the sure thing.  And the sure thing is ALWAYS God and His Word!

 

You can outline Obadiah’s short book like this…

I.  Esau’s Descendants Reduced by God  (Obadiah 1:1-16)

-  Edom’s Contempt

*  Their Thankless Hearts  (1:3)

Dwelling in the high and inaccessible cliffs of their land had made the Edomites arrogant… and made them feel as though it was all about them.

*  Their Treacherous Hands  (1:10-14)

The Edomites and God’s people were distant cousins; Edom from Esau, Judah from Jacob.  They should have stuck by their cousins, but they chose not to… on several occasions.

-  Edom’s Condemnation

*  The Source

1)  Their Foes  (1:1,2)

2)  Their Friends  (1:7)

*  The Severity

1)  Their Wealth Would be Removed  (1:4-6)

2)  Their Wisdom Would Be Reduced  (1:8,9)

3)  Their Wickedness Would Be Returned  (1:15,16)

Edom would reap what they had sown.

 

II.  Jacob’s Descendants Restored by God  (Obadiah 1:17-21)

-  They Would Repossess Their Land  (1:17-20)

-  They Would Rule Over Their Land  (1:21)

 

You can read Obadiah‘s prophecy in the biblical book named for him.