Wednesday, July 28, 2021

CONFESSION

Today’s Reading: Nehemiah 9

Click scripture link to read online or HERE to listen online (then click the symbol of the audio speaker above the scripture portion).

 

Another view of the Wetsern Wall of the Temple Mount (also known as the Wailing Wall). Many Jews come to this special location regularly to pray because it is close to where the Temple once stood which housed the Presence of God.

GOOGLE MAPS – To see where the photo was taken, click HERE.

 

Key Verse: Nehemiah 9:2

Then those of Israelite lineage separated themselves from all foreigners; and they stood and confessed their sins and the iniquities of their fathers.

 

Not only did the people confess their sins (a prerequisite to effective prayer), but they also confessed the history of God’s “amazing grace” through the centuries since Abraham. This is a thorough review of the past. Verse 36 brings the story to the present, “We are Your servants today!” “We are in great distress” (9:37b). Then we read the conclusion for the future: “We make a sure covenant and write it.” A “covenant” is the most solemn and binding agreement possible between two or more parties. In this case, it was a legal document between God and the individual person. It was most important that the “covenant” be witnessed and sealed by leaders, priests and Levites. We may want to conclude our meditation on chapter 9 by reading out loud from Nehemiah 9:5b to 9:38, the end of the chapter. Next, we may want to write our covenant with God and others over the next few days. For those people in Jerusalem, this process took 12 hours. Don’t rush it. You may want to share it with me and others as a comment on this blog at www.100words.ca (just click on the comments bubble at the top, then scroll down to where it says “Leave a Reply”)…and also share it with your leaders in faith. Perhaps this could even be a part of your last will and testament. Be generous with your family members, and then they’ll pay close attention when, by law, the lawyer is required to read it out loud. On second thought, it may be too personal to share it with me. You can leave that out, but I would be very interested to know that readers have taken me up on this suggestion. Believe me, it will be worth the huge effort required.

PRAYER FOR TODAY:

Lord God, I confess my sins and trust You for the forgiveness You promised (2 Chronicles 7:14 and 1 John 1:9). I also confess as the people did. It is taking longer today, but You are not in a hurry. I pray that I will slow down and take more time with You. I pray this in the Name of the One who told the story of the Jew who collected taxes for Rome and prayed a short prayer, “God be merciful to me a sinner,” and who, according to Jesus, went to his home justified (made right in God’s sight), Amen! Amen!

100 PERSONAL WORDS:

I confess that I’ve gone well over my goal of 100 words. Please forgive me, and I’m sorry to report that I’ll probably do it again. I’m so full of God’s Word!

From time to time I have written out a statement, put it in my top centre drawer in my desk, opened the drawer first thing each day, and read the statement. It was a very effective way to focus myself on those things that are really important! That statement was not what I want put in my will, but a sentence, using as few words as possible, to describe my commitment to God and to others. For example, when the Crossroads Ministry had a big financial need, I would write something like this: “I am absolutely sure that God will meet the needs of the ministry, providing sufficient funds to pay every bill!” What about that! The ministry is still moving forward after 55 years. Thank You, Lord!

Yours for spending whatever time is necessary on putting first things first, and as someone has said, “Keep the main thing the main thing!”

David

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

CELEBRATE

Today’s Reading: Nehemiah 7-8

Click scripture link to read online or HERE to listen online (then click the symbol of the audio speaker above the scripture portion).

 

A night view from inside Jerusalem’s Old City walls looking towards David’s Citadel near the Jaffa Gate entrance. Built to strengthen a strategically weak point in the Old City’s defenses, the Citadel that stands today was constructed during the 2nd century BC and subsequently destroyed and rebuilt by, in succession, the Christian, Muslim, Mamluk, and Ottoman conquerors of Jerusalem. It contains important archaeological finds dating back 2,700 years.

GOOGLE MAPS – To see where the photo was taken, click HERE.

 

Key Verse: Nehemiah 8:12

And all the people went their way to eat and drink, to send portions and rejoice greatly, because they understood the words that were declared to them.

 

Imagine the scene. A choir of 245 singers and Ezra, the priest, stepping forward to lead the worship, the prayers, and the reading of Scripture. When Ezra blessed the Lord, the people said, “Amen, Amen,” lifted up their hands, and bowed their heads. This was not only reading, it was expository preaching, giving the sense of the passage, and helping the people understand the reading. We would be blessed to have such a meeting in our places of worship! “Amen, Amen.”

Malachi, the Prophet author of the last book in the Hebrew Scriptures, was there. He was probably participating as a Levite. Over and over “the children” are mentioned in the list of families present. Malachi proclaimed that God would “turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers” (Malachi 4:6a). These are the final words of the last book in the Bible from which Jesus and the Apostles would have read. This bonding of families was happening as the people in the temple square wept, rejoiced, and “understood the words that were declared unto them.”

PRAYER FOR TODAY:

Lord God, please grant me the grace to share Your Word with others every day. May I understand the meaning of Scripture so that those to whom I’m hoping to communicate will understand and respond, as the people did in today’s reading. I pray for all who read this blog. May it be a strong Word from You! “Amen, Amen!”

100 PERSONAL WORDS:

Norma-Jean, our children and I have some of our favourite and most cherished memories from a time in the 70’s when we got away from the pressures of daily life in our old 1958 ex-bread truck, which had been converted into a camper named Jonah (sometimes, like the prophet, it didn’t want to go!). We did this in the month of July for several years. No telephones, no appointments, no commitments other than to each other. Our hearts, as in the words of Malachi, were truly turned to each other. I highly recommend such quality time to families everywhere.

Yours to help us all to “understand the reading” (Nehemiah 8:8b),

David

P.S. I believe that our priorities should be God first, family second, ministry and work in general third.

Monday, July 26, 2021

COUNT YOUR BLESSINGS

Today’s Reading: Nehemiah 5-6

Click scripture link to read online or HERE to listen online (then click the symbol of the audio speaker above the scripture portion).

 

A fence seperates the men’s prayer area from the women’s at the Western Wall (or Wailing Wall) in Jerusalem. This wall is part of the retaining wall of the Temple Mount.

GOOGLE MAPS – To see where the photo was taken, click HERE.

 

Key Verse: Nehemiah 6:3

So I sent messengers to them, saying, “I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down. Why should the work cease while I leave it and go down to you?”

 

This writing may have been a report back to King Artaxerxes in Persia. Not only did it speak of rebuilding the walls, but of the reform of civil society. Nehemiah took measures to repopulate Jerusalem with observant Jews. He enforced the cancellation of debt providing a brand new start for the people. He assisted Ezra in teaching and implementing the Law of Moses. Nehemiah’s determined leadership is captured in our key verse. He considered what he was doing to be “a great work.” We should never minimize the call of God on our lives. Doing God’s will is “a great work.” In spite of attempts to lure Nehemiah away and put fear in his heart, he never gave up! He took leadership and persisted in his efforts. When those who opposed him tried to make him fearful, he refused to be afraid. He feared God (ultimate respect) more than anything man could do to him.

Malachi, preaching while Nehemiah was in leadership, declared, “Then those who feared the Lord spoke to one another, and the Lord listened and heard them; so a book of remembrance was written before Him for those who fear the Lord and who meditate on His Name” (Malachi 3:16).

PRAYER FOR TODAY:

Lord God, I pray that this blog will have the same results as Malachi’s ministry. Thank You for all who speak to one another, encouraging each other in their responses to the blog, by telephone calls, or in personal conversation, or even in forwarding the blogs to others. I’m asking You, Lord, as did Nehemiah, “Remember me, my God, for good” (Nehemiah 5:19a). Amen!!!

100 PERSONAL WORDS:

At first glance it may seem self-centred to ask for God’s blessings for myself, but I’m fully aware that unless I am blessed, I cannot give what I don’t have. The Gospel song says, “Count your blessings; name them one by one. Count your blessings; see what God has done.” I’ve just gone into Google, typed in Count Your Blessings, and there was Guy Penrod singing this song on 100 Huntley Street (click here). On the senior’s TV series, Really Good Medicine, we had Jimmy Durante singing Irving Berlin’s song written for the White Christmas movie, Count Your Blessings Instead of Sheep. I’ve often done that when I’m trying to fall asleep. It works!

Yours for God’s goodness to be upon us all,

David

Sunday, July 25, 2021

THE TROWEL AND THE SWORD

Today’s Reading: Nehemiah 3-4

Click scripture link to read online or HERE to listen online (then click the symbol of the audio speaker above the scripture portion).

 

The Broad Wall is an ancient defensive wall in the Old City of Jerusalem. The wall was unearthed in the 1970’s by Israeli archaeologist Nahman Avigad and dated to the reign of King Hezekiah (late 8th century BC). This wall is referred to in Nehemiah 3:8.

GOOGLE MAPS – To see where the photo was taken, click HERE.

 

Key Verse: Nehemiah 4:6

So we built the wall, and the entire wall was joined together up to half its height, for the people had a mind to work.

 

Those who opposed the building of the wall tried to stop the project in several ways. Firstly, they used ridicule, mocking the vision of the Jews. Secondly, when their indignation had turned to anger, they conspired to use violence against the Jews. The response of those who had God’s vision for the wall was to have “a mind to work,” to make “our prayer to our God,” and to “set a watch against them [their enemies] day and night.”

In doing the will of God for our lives today, let us work hard, pray hard, and watch carefully for enemy activity. Why do we fight the fight of faith? Yes, for our own futures, but as 4:14b tells us, we fight for our families, “our brothers and sisters, our sons and daughters [also for those in other families who have no one to fight for them], our wives [husbands] and our houses.” The imagery of a trowel (the work) in one hand and a sword (the protection of daily reading God’s Word) in the other hand, is powerful. A complimentary New Testament reading could be Mark 10:28-31, where we are promised by Jesus 100 times more in houses, brothers, sisters, etc. The best results come from doing God’s will in spite of opposition.

PRAYER FOR TODAY:

Lord God, I pray for daily strength to work diligently for Your cause, and to stand on guard against all attacks on Your great purposes for my life and that of my family. In the Name of the Carpenter who said, “I will build My Church,” and “I make all things new,” Jesus, Himself, Amen!!!

100 PERSONAL WORDS:

In Canada’s national anthem we repeat several times, “We stand on guard for thee.” This brings to mind a story from my Dad and his partner in guard duty at Fort Henry in Kingston, Ontario, during WWI. Private Mainse and Private Hawley were on night duty walking the circumference of the Fort outside the walls. They would meet, salute, turn about face and walk the opposite directions until they met again. Each time they met they would each quote a sentence from the Bible which they had memorized the day before. The son of Private Hawley, Martin Hawley, confirmed this story to me not long ago. Both Privates became Generals in my books. It’s no wonder that they both were called of God into His service. They became ordained ministers of Christ.

The last building project in which I was involved was the Crossroads Centre in Burlington, Ontario (picture below). The building houses 143,000 square feet of TV studios, offices, a restaurant, and convention facilities. I invite all our readers to visit. I traveled to a quarry in Muskoka to choose the great stone you see pictured outside the entrance. The Scripture below the stone says, “Thus saith the Lord: stand at the crossroads and look, and ask for the ancient paths where the good way lies, and walk in it, and find rest for your souls!” Jeremiah 6:16 (NRSV).

Yours for having “a mind to work” and “rest for your souls” and “to not be afraid,”

David

The Crossroads Centre, Burlington, Ontario, opened in 1992.

Saturday, July 24, 2021

RISE UP

Today’s Reading: Nehemiah 1-2

Click scripture link to read online or HERE to listen online (then click the symbol of the audio speaker above the scripture portion).

 

The City of David is the Israeli name for the oldest settled neighbourhood of Jerusalem, and it is a major archaeological site. It is on a narrow ridge running south from the Temple Mount. It was a walled city in the Bronze Age and, according to Scripture, it is the place where King David built his palace and established his capital. The City of David enjoyed the defensive advantages of its position by the Tyropoeon Valley to its west (mostly filled in), the Hinnom Valley to the south, and the Kidron Valley on the east. This photo is looking south along an ancient City of David wall. Down to the left is the Kidron Valley.

GOOGLE MAPS – To see where the photo was taken, click HERE.

 

Key Verse: Nehemiah 2:18

And I told them of the hand of my God which had been good upon me, and also of the king’s words that he had spoken to me. So they said, “Let us rise up and build.” Then they set their hands to do this good work.

 

King Artaxerxes, ruler of the vast Persian Empire and stepson of Queen Esther, became God’s servant in the answers to the prayers of Daniel and many others who suffered ethnic cleansing at the hands of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. The Jews were still subjects of Persia, but the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem provided some sense of control over their own destiny as a distinct people. Some have called this period of time “The Springtime of Judaism.”

Ezra, in our readings over the past few days, has concentrated on the spiritual restoration of Judah, and now Nehemiah focuses on the political and geographical restoration. God gave the Jewish people one more leader who was a contemporary of Ezra and Nehemiah, the prophet Malachi. His ministry to the people was crucial to the revival of Judaism. The final book in the Hebrew cannon of Holy Scripture is powerful. To discover the power of Malachi’s words we may read Malachi 3:6-12.

PRAYER FOR TODAY:

Lord God, like Nehemiah, I pray with all sincerity for You to move upon the lives of those in authority. Please lead, guide, and direct our leaders in Your ways. You influenced the Persian Kings for the good of Your ancient people; now I pray that You’ll do the same for our current civil authorities, and in particular our spiritual leaders. Raise up in our time, O Lord, powerful prophetic voices as You have done in times past. I pray all these mercies in the Name of Jesus, Amen!!!

100 PERSONAL WORDS:

About 30 years ago, I was invited to speak at a conference of pastors and church leaders in Berlin, Germany. Rev. Volkhardt Spitzer was my host. He was the leader of a great Pentecostal congregation which had taken possession of the great church building in which Kaiser Wilhelm, of WWI times, had worshipped. I passed through “Check Point Charlie” into Eastern Germany, where I had the honour to preach in a Methodist Church. There in Communist-controlled territory, I found a church full of young people. Poverty was evident, but the joy of the Lord filled the building.

The next day, I took a taxi from my hotel to the infamous Wall that the Communist East Germans had built. A house which was a part of the Wall was being torn down and the Wall was being constructed to fill the gap. Police with machine guns were everywhere on the East German side. I approached the Wall from the west to try and make conversation with the masons laying the stones. I spoke in my best German (not that good) a warm greeting, but was met with no response. The workers would not look at me. I was totally ignored. I tried several times, but there was no response. I shared that evening in the conference that God is seeking to get our attention, but we just keep on building walls which separate. President Reagan said a few months later, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.” As in the days of Ezra and Nehemiah, God still uses leaders to bring about positive change in human affairs. I must never give up hope.

Yours for optimism based on the knowledge that God hears and answers prayer,

David

Ronald Reagan next to the Berlin Wall where he spoke the famous words, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” – June 12, 1987

Friday, July 23, 2021

MAKING A DIFFERENCE

Today’s Reading: Ezra 9-10

Click scripture link to read online or HERE to listen online (then click the symbol of the audio speaker above the scripture portion).

 

The northern part of “The City of David.” This area of Jerusalem was also known as the Ophel and is a narrow promontory beyond the southern edge of the Temple Mount and Old City. The Temple Mount is seen at the top of this photo.

GOOGLE MAPS – To see where the photo was taken, click HERE.

 

Key Verse: Ezra 10:1

Now while Ezra was praying, and while he was confessing, weeping, and bowing down before the house of God, a very large congregation of men, women, and children assembled to him from Israel; for the people wept very bitterly.

 

During the captivity in Babylon, much very serious prayer took place. Daniel prayed three times every day while facing Jerusalem. No doubt there were many others doing the same. God answered their prayers with a resounding, “YES!” The result was that God moved the heart and mind of the Persian Emperor Cyrus and his successors.

Josephus, the famous Jewish historian, states in “Antiquities of the Jews” (11.1.2) that Jews showed King Cyrus, who defeated Babylon, the prophecy of Isaiah where his name was mentioned over 100 years before his birth. Isaiah described Cyrus’ role in the plan of God. Josephus writes that this motivated Cyrus “to fulfill what was written.” Archeological excavations in 1879-1882 found what is known as the “Cyrus Cylinder.” At the opening of the Crossroads Centre in 1992, we had a replica of this cylinder on display. It is an important confirmation of the accuracy of the Biblical account, and of the policies of Cyrus in his rule of his vast empire. It says of Israel, “All their peoples I gathered together and restored to their dwelling place” (see photo of the Cyrus Cylinder below).

PRAYER FOR TODAY:

Lord God, You do hear and answer prayer. Sometimes You say, “Yes,” sometimes, “No,” sometimes, “Slow.” I pray for deliverance of people today from captivity, yes, in Iraq (ancient Babylon) and Iran (ancient Persia), and also here at home. Destructive addictions, bad decisions, a self focus rather than seeking the good of others first, and other things, are holding people in captivity. I cry out to You for restoration of all that is good, kind, and loving. I pray in the name of the One who modelled the life we need, Jesus, Himself, Amen!!!

100 PERSONAL WORDS:

Norma-Jean and I lived for a time on Seaton Street, Toronto, just one block east of Sherbourne. I would often walk by the Salvation Army Men’s Centre where we volunteered on several occasions. I would think of our city in history. I had read that in the 1880’s Toronto was a mess! Open sewers, contaminated drinking water, much public display of intoxication, prostitution, and other ills that made Toronto a bad place in which to live. One man made a difference. The city became known as “Toronto the Good.”

William Howland attended an evangelistic series of meetings at St. James Cathedral, where history records that he realized he was a sinner who needed the Saviour. Fired up by his new faith, he set out to bring change and hope to his city. He regularly visited people living in the slums. He became an active worker in the YMCA. To help people find jobs, he raised the money to build an industrial school. At age 42 he ran for Mayor of Toronto and won (see photo below). His first act as Mayor was to create a morality squad, which patrolled and cleaned up the streets. He instituted a complete overhaul of the city’s water system. He so involved himself in the plight of the underprivileged that he wore himself out and died at 49. Those years impacted Toronto for at least a century.

I see evidences, particularly in the park on Sherbourne Street, that Toronto needs another William Howland. Pray for Toronto’s present mayor. I’m praying for the intervention of God in Canada’s largest city, in our entire country, and around the world!

Yours for hearing from God and for making the best personal decisions possible,

David

The Cyrus Cylinder (click on photo to enlarge)

William Howland, former Mayor of Toronto

 

Thursday, July 22, 2021

THE RIVER

Today’s Reading: Ezra 7-8

Click scripture link to read online or HERE to listen online (then click the symbol of the audio speaker above the scripture portion).

 

One significant source of water in the Middle East comes from a karst spring found in the Golan Heights region of Israel. The water from this spring forms the Dan River which is the largest and most important tributary of the Jordan River. It is fed by rain and snow that filters down through the rocks of Mount Hermon and emerges at its foot, creating the largest karst spring in the Middle East.

GOOGLE MAPS – To see where the photo was taken, click HERE.

 

Key Verses: Ezra 8:21, 23

Then I proclaimed a fast there at the river of Ahava, that we might humble ourselves before our God, to seek from Him the right way for us and our little ones and all our possessions…so we fasted and entreated our God for this, and He answered our prayer.

 

Let us learn that while fasting does not gain any special favour, it does emphasize the high level of our fervency. God responds to fervent prayer. Fasting is an evidence of a high level of fervency. James, known as the brother of our Lord, wrote that, “The effective fervent prayer of a righteous man (or woman) avails much” (James 5:18b). The word “river” is repeated four times in our reading. Prayer is like a river. There is a source, found in the rains and springs God provides. The river flows, picking up other little streams as it goes. Without the Jordan River, much more land would be swallowed up by the desert.

Yesterday, our key verse told us that the people “prospered through the prophesying of Haggai, the prophet, and Zechariah.” We considered a sample of the preaching of Haggai yesterday. Today let’s read from the other preacher…Zechariah 1:14-17 and Zechariah 9:9-10. Here is a repeated promise from Psalm 72:8 which is the motto that the founders of Canada chose to describe our country and to proclaim that God is Lord of Canada. Consider Zechariah 4:6b “Not by might [corporate strength] or by power [personal strength] but by My Spirit, says the Lord of hosts.” Is it any wonder that the people prospered?

PRAYER FOR TODAY:

Father God, as is recorded in Mark 9:24, “Immediately the man cried out and said with tears, ‘Lord I believe; help my unbelief!'” Dear Lord, I am encouraged by reading this story and praying the same prayer. Thank You! Amen!!! (Mark 9:14-29).

100 PERSONAL WORDS:

Haggai and Zechariah had influence on the people of God. Esther, the young Jewish girl who became the bride of the King of the Persian Empire, had a profound influence. No doubt it was her presence in the palace that brought about the letter which we have in today’s reading. Every one of us have a sphere of influence. I mentioned in my first commentary on the book of Ezra a Jewish Canadian named Ezra Levant. He has an increasing influence on Canadian life and politics. Like those who spoke out against the prevailing conditions in Israel, Levant has been persecuted but refuses to be “politically correct.” Check him out. Whether I agree with him or not, I find him fascinating. You may want to encourage him by writing (his website is here).

Yours for all who use whatever opportunities we have to speak out on issues about which we care,

David

This sign is at one of the main points where the water comes out of the ground. You can read about the impressive volume of water that this Karst Spring produces.

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

THE DECREE

Today’s Reading: Ezra 5-6

Click scripture link to read online or HERE to listen online (then click the symbol of the audio speaker above the scripture portion).

 

Church of St. Mary Magdalene in Jerusalem on the slope of the Mount of Olives. On his first visit to Jerusalem, Boris Yeltsin ordered that the onion-domed spires on this Russian Orthodox church be reguilded with golden paint.

GOOGLE MAPS – To see where the photo was taken, click HERE.

 

Key Verse: Ezra 6:14

So the elders of the Jews built, and they prospered through the prophesying [preaching and teaching] of Haggai and Zechariah the son of Iddo, and they built and finished it, according to the commandment of the God of Israel, and according to the command of Cyrus, Darius, and Artaxerxes King of Persia.

 

In yesterday’s reading we were introduced to Kings Ahasuerus and Artaxerxes of Persia. It seems that they ruled between Cyrus the Great and Darius. In this interim period construction on the new Temple was stopped. A holocaust threatened the Jews until Queen Esther came on the scene (read Esther 3:12-14). Also we may want to read Esther 4:15-17 and Esther 7:4-6. In just over two weeks we’ll be reading the entire book of Esther.

Let us persist in our readings. The history of this period can be confusing. Hang in there! The Jews in the province of Judea held onto their vision. Two preachers made a big contribution to lifting the spirits of the people. Let’s read from the first preacher today, and the second tomorrow (Haggai 1:13-15 and Haggai 2:1-9). In spite of Haman’s threat to have all the Jews killed, they kept the faith. God had His Esther, and her uncle Mordecai, in the Persian Palace.

PRAYER FOR TODAY:

Lord God, I understand that You do not violate human free will, but I thank You that You do put people in place, and You do create circumstances that cause people to be willing to do, of their own free will, what is right. Please Lord, I pray that You’ll continue to do this in our world today. I volunteer for service, Lord, if I can be of any help in Your cause. In the Name of Jesus, the greatest Volunteer, I pray, Amen!!!

100 PERSONAL WORDS:

President Ronald Reagan called the Soviet Union and her satellite countries, the “Evil Empire.” But even there God was at work. In 1985 Crossroads made it into the Soviet Newspaper, Pravda, with the story of our unusual contract with Prague for the creative content of our “Pavilion of Promise” at Expo ’86 in Vancouver. I have lots of stories out of this period as to God at work in these officially anti-God countries.

Yesterday I wrote of the deliverance of many Jews from the USSR. Today I have a Christian story. I was speaker on two evenings during the first ever gathering of Christian leaders from all 15 republics of the USSR. This invitation resulted from the 1989 release of our Crossroads Creation TV series in prime time. Friends from Finland had translated it and made it look like we were speaking Russian. One morning I sat at breakfast with five Pastors. One of them, I thought, had the worst case of arthritis ever. However, it appeared to be in only one hand. I had to ask about it. The Pastors knew what was coming and they laughed. The man with the twisted fingers said, “I was teaching my children about God and was ordered to stop. They put me in prison and broke my fingers one at a time. With each finger they offered to stop if I would sign a paper admitting my guilt and promising to stop my teaching. Each time I refused. Now, however, they have called me in and offered to fix my fingers by re-breaking them, this time under anesthetic, and they said I could continue my teaching as I pleased. But I said, ‘No!’ I get a lot more attention when I preach using this hand to help make my points.” Loud laughter broke out amongst the Pastors. I felt like crawling under the table. I was not worthy to be in the company of such strong followers of Christ. Here I was, the guest speaker, and I was learning much more from them than they would ever learn from me. That evening, after my message on “The Church After Persecution Ceases,” I was kissed at least 500 times (Russian men kiss other men on the lips!). I’ve got to report that I simply tolerated it with the grace God gave me, but at the same time, I rejoiced with them because we all knew that the “70 years of the dark red night of atheistic rule,” as they called it, was almost over. They likened it to the 70-year Babylonian captivity of Israel.

Yours, like Esther, wanting to be at the right time and the right place in order to serve God and people,

David

P.S. We brought a Mobile TV production unit over to Moscow from Leningrad (the name had not yet been changed back to St. Petersburg) and videotaped this conference. A news report was carried on 100 Huntley Street. The picture below shows how doors continued to open in Russia.

1992 – Prime Minister Brian Mulroney told Boris Yeltsin about the Crossroads ministry and our Russian students studying television at our School of Broadcasting and Communications. To me, this was a confirmation of God’s will being done over the years since my first visit to Moscow in 1968. After 70 years, the captives to atheistic communism were set free. Yeltsin’s first trip outside Russia was to Jerusalem to walk where Jesus proclaimed freedom to people everywhere.

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

WEEP AND REJOICE

Today’s Reading: Ezra 3-4

Click scripture link to read online or HERE to listen online (then click the symbol of the audio speaker above the scripture portion).

 

The black volcanic stones formed the foundation of the Capernaum synagogue in the first century. Jesus healed the man with the withered hand in this building (Mark 3:1-6).

 

GOOGLE MAPS – To see where the photo was taken, click HERE.

 

Key Verse: Ezra 3:12

But many of the priests and Levites and heads of their fathers’ houses, who were old men, who had seen the first Temple, wept with a loud voice when the foundation of this temple was laid before their eyes; yet many shouted aloud for joy…

 

Today’s reading tells a story of tragedy and triumph! The people followed a two-year plan of worship and work (100words is also on a two-year plan). The foundation of God’s house had been completed. It was time to rejoice, reminisce, and express hope for the future.

The destruction of the original Temple by Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar had not hindered the worship of the true God in the people’s hearts. In fact, the opposite was true. The 70 years of captivity in Babylon had purified and intensified their fervency for God. The circumstances demanded small group gatherings. Eventually this would result in the development of the synagogue movement. Even before they began the construction project, they set up an altar to express reverence and obedience to God. Building or no building, God’s people will always find a place of personal, and if available, corporate worship.

In chapter four, we read of a delay in construction of the physical building; but the building of the holy temple, “eternal in the heavens,” went right on. Read 2 Corinthians 4:16 to 5:1-8.

PRAYER FOR TODAY:

Lord God, Like the people who gathered around Ezra’s vision, sometimes I weep and sometimes I shout for joy. You know my heart and mind. I pray for grace and consistency to worship You at all times and all places. Amen!

100 PERSONAL WORDS:

I served for several years as a Judge in “The International Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion.” One recipient for whom I voted was Rabbi Lord Jacobovitz, chief Rabbi of Britain and the Commonwealth (see photo below). He had written extensively on the subject of medical ethics, but the main reason I supported him was for his work with the USSR in bringing Jewish people out of the oppression and persecution of the Soviet Union. The people were called “Refuseniks.” He, like Ezra, succeeded magnificently. At Convocation Hall in the University of Toronto, where he was honoured, I had the opportunity of a long conversation with him. We agreed that one of the tragedies in history was when Jewish Christian leaders, who led the Christian Church for the first few decades, were replaced almost totally by Gentile leaders. Let us not forget that all the Apostles were Jews, as was Jesus, Himself. Read Romans 11:11-24. The Rabbi and I rejoiced for the occasion of the Templeton Prize and the recognition of his work, but we wept over the disastrous chasm which opened up between Jews and Christians. Below the Rabbi’s photo is an example of that divide. In 4th century Antioch Christians were still worshipping with their Jewish brothers and sisters in the local synagogue. This three-dimensional model is in the museum of the Jewish diaspora located on the campus of the University in Tel Aviv.

Yours for restoration for all that is God’s will for His people,

David

Rabbi Lord Jacobovits, winner of the Templeton Prize in 1991.

Add caption....Chrysotom.....

Jews and Jewish-Christians prepare to worship at the Great Synagogue of Antioch, Syria, in the 4th century AD. Chrysostom, one of the fathers of the Church, reproves the Christians and demands that they separate from the Jews.

 

Monday, July 19, 2021

Cyrus the Great

Today’s Reading: Ezra 1-2

Click scripture link to read online or HERE to listen online (then click the symbol of the audio speaker above the scripture portion).

 

The Temple that Ezra rebuilt was an earlier version of what is depicted in this model from the time of Jesus. Today, a Muslim mosque, known as the Dome of the Rock (seen in the background), is located on that same Temple Mount.

GOOGLE MAPS – To see where the photo was taken, click HERE.

 

Key Verse: Ezra 1:2b-3

“…He [the Lord God of Heaven] has commanded me to build Him a house at Jerusalem which is in Judah. Who is there among you of all His people? May his God be with him! Now let him go up to Jerusalem, which is in Judah, and build the house of the Lord God of Israel (He is God), which is in Jerusalem.” Cyrus the Great, Ruler of the Persian Empire.

 

Cyrus defeated the Babylonians and released the Jews from captivity, encouraging them to rebuild the Temple. Today’s reading records that the amazing treasure, which Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon had stolen from the original Temple of David and Solomon, was returned to the Jewish people. Several years later, after the death of Cyrus, the new ruler, Darius (of Daniel’s den of Lions fame) had to search for the memorandum Cyrus had written ordering the new Temple to be built (Ezra 6:1). It might be useful for us to read Daniel 6:25-28. Darius also had a high view of the God of Israel. Queen Esther and the potential persecution of the Jews is in the mix here also. Hopefully in the next two weeks, as we proceed through Ezra and Nehemiah, we’ll get the history sorted out adequately.

Cyrus the Great is named in an amazing prophecy. In the writings of Isaiah it is predicted, approximately 150 years before Cyrus came to the throne, the actions of a ruler named Cyrus in the restoration of the Temple and Jerusalem  (read Isaiah 44:24-28). God, who created the cosmos, could surely have let His prophet Isaiah know in advance what His plans were. Those who choose to not believe will surely say that this was added to the book of Isaiah after the event.

The historical record of these events outside of the Bible is impressive. The Encyclopedia Britannica says, “In 538 B.C. these events happened as recorded in the Bible.” Add to that the Cyrus Cylinder (see photo below…a most unusual archeological artifact – I’ve seen a replica), which tells the story exactly as the Bible records it, and of course Josephus, the Jewish historian, also records the story.

This first commentary on Ezra is way over 100 words. An economy of words hopefully will follow in the next few days.

PRAYER FOR TODAY:

Lord God of Israel, You are faithful to Your promises to Your ancient people. I pray that I will have the faith given to me so that I, too, will trust Your promises which You have made over and over in Your Holy Word to all people at all times. Amen!

100 PERSONAL WORDS:

On Canadian media, one of the most outspoken opinion commentators is Ezra Levant. I invited him to check out my blog, particularly because he is Jewish and obviously named after the scribe, Ezra. I did not mention to him something he no doubt already knows, that his last name, “Levant”, is the description of the name of the area once ruled by Cyrus, which extends from the Euphrates River (Babylon) on the east to the Mediterranean Sea on the west, and from southern Turkey to the tip of the Sinai in the south. It seemed to be a cultural and geographic region which had at one time been ruled by King Solomon, and later by the Assyrian Empire.

Also, I could not help but think of the far-reaching impact of the social and political actions of Cyrus. He developed the model which would be used by Rome and even the British Empire, i.e. local rulers who owed their power to the Emperor. Remember, one of the titles of Queen Victoria was, “Empress of India.”

Yours for having a far-reaching impact on today’s world,

David

The Cyrus Cylinder was discovered in 1879 and rapidly became one of the most famous cuneiform texts, as it confirms that the Persian conqueror Cyrus the Great had allowed the Jews to return from their Babylonian Captivity.