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celebration September 13 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today’s Bible reading: Psalms 118, 129, 148, 149, 150

Celebration!

Strike up the band! Celebrate! Let’s have a parade! Let’s have a party! Let’s have a feast! Let’s sing and dance! What makes us want to celebrate? Some just like to party, but most of us are exuberant over some great accomplishments we may never have thought possible. We laugh, we sing, and we praise God! After all, did he not make our victories possible?

The Jewish people from Jerusalem had been in exile in Babylon for seventy years. God said through the prophet Jeremiah that in seventy years they would return to the land (Jeremiah 29:10). Amazingly, God even named King Cyrus as the one who would issue the decree many years before he even took the throne (Isaiah 44:28). And then the unthinkable happened - they were allowed to return to their land! Is it normal for a conquered people to be able to do that? No. What grace God bestowed upon his people! He forgave their sins and then, through a decree of King Cyrus, he provided a way to return to the land and build their temple. He also sent with them all the supplies and money they would need to rebuild the temple and their cities. God was their defender and protector. Though at this time only 49,000 Jews and their servants returned to the land, God protected them from their hostile neighbors. In an ironic twist, some of the nations who had plundered the nation of Judah when she was destroyed were ordered to provide all she needed to rebuild her temple and her city, and even a great amount of sheep and cattle so that she might sacrifice to her great God. God has a sense of humor.

After the Jews got back to their land, they built temporary dwellings and then gathered to Jerusalem to erect an altar to God. Though they feared their neighbors, they acted in faith; they sacrificed to God in worship and made plans for the rebuilding of the temple. As the foundations were laid, they had held a celebration, and God was pleased.

A little while later, however, their neighbors sought to frustrate their efforts. They discouraged the Israelites and made them fear to continue, and so the work stopped. The Jews gave into fear and forgot God’s almighty power. God was displeased. They were building their own houses, yet dishonored God by neglecting his house. He no longer blessed their crops or brought them prosperity. In fact, he sent them drought and famine. He sent the prophets Haggai and Zechariah, who urged them to repent, return, rise up, and build the temple. The people listened; God forgave their sins, the work was resumed, and God’s favor was restored.

Once again opposition came from their enemies. A letter was sent by the rulers of the Trans-Euphrates area (part of which included the land of Israel) to King Darius to check out Israel’s permits. Were they allowed to rebuild or were Israel's claims a farse? After much searching, the decree of Cyrus was found in the archives. When it was found, not only did Darius confirm the edict to rebuild, but he also ordered the people in the region not to trouble the Jews any more, and to give the Jews all they needed to complete their project. Once again, the trouble they sought to make for the Jews came back upon them. God was the protector and defender of the Jewish people. Within just a couple of years the temple was complete, and it was time to celebrate! It is thought by some Bible scholars that today’s Psalms may have been written during this time.

Psalm 118 is a praise Psalm. It was a popular song referred to or sung at many occasions (more...). Some verses in Psalm 118 also refer to the ministry of Jesus Christ - especially the time when Jesus rode into Jerusalem on the back of a donkey as the people scattered palm branches before him and proclaimed him king (vs. 26-27). We celebrate this time as Palm Sunday.

Has God worked in marvelous ways in your life? Has he forgiven your sins and blessed you? (more...) Has he defended you against your enemies? Has he provided all you need? Why not celebrate the occasion? Why not sing his praise? Strike up the band!

Praise the LORD. Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens.
Praise him for his acts of power; praise him for his surpassing greatness.
Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet; praise him with the harp and lyre.
Praise him with tambourine and dancing, praise him with the strings and flute.
Praise him with the clash of cymbals, praise him with resounding cymbals.
Let everything that has breath praise the LORD. Praise the LORD. (Psalm 150)

Lessons to live by:

  • God can work in marvelous ways in your life. He can forgive your sins and bless you (more...).
  • Recount what God has done in your life and marvel at his greatness.
  • Celebrate God!

Today’s Bible memory verses: 1Peter 2:9-10

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. (NIV)

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