Wednesday, November 30, 2016

DBRP_336 EST.9 EST.10 ISA.43 2TI.1

ESTHER 9-10:
We have heard how Esther’s request was granted, the king and Haman came to the second banquet, where Esther revealed her identity. The eunuch Harbona just happened to have pertinent information about Haman’s plans for Mordecai, and Haman was killed and impaled/hanged on the pole he had planned to use for Mordecai. Mordecai, coming into possession of the king’s signet ring, wrote an edict that allowed for the Jews to organize and defend themselves against their enemies.

In Isaiah 42 we heard twice about ‘the servant of the Lord’. The first passage is quoted in the New Testament about Jesus. However in the second, the servant (singular) pictures the people of Israel. Before Christ came, the Jews would have read the first section understanding it also to refer to the people of Israel. This intentional vagueness is one of the ways God used to reveal his message to us in this age and conceal it before the time for revealing had come.

2 Timothy 1:
This is Paul’s final letter, and it is also the last letter from Paul we will read this year. This letter includes some practical instructions for Timothy’s ministry. It also includes precious statements about the inspiration of Scripture and the Lord’s reward for obedience and endurance. I love this letter because it is so very personal. Paul was in a very different imprisonment, not under house arrest. He knew his time on earth was short. So each personal message to ‘his son’ Timothy is moving and precious.

Translation note:
5 I remember [how sincerely you believe in Christ//the sincere faith you have], [which reminds me of how your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice believed//the kind of faith that your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice also had]. I am sure that you have it also].
13 [PET Hold firmly to the true teaching that I taught you[, (GNT) as the example for you to follow]. Keep believing in Christ, and live with the love we obtain because of being one with Him.//GNT Hold firmly to the true words that I taught you, as the example for you to follow, and remain in the faith and love that are ours in union with Christ Jesus.]

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Tuesday, November 29, 2016

DBRP_335 EST.7 EST.8 ISA.42 2TH.3

In Esther 5 Haman planned to impale Mordecai on a pole in the NLT, or just hanged in the GNT. (Given the period of time, I think that the impaling method is more likely to be right.) But on the same night that Haman planned for that murder, God caused the king to have a sleepless night and read in the annals of the kingdom about Mordecai. Haman came before the king at just the right time to get assigned the task of honoring Mordecai.

In Isaiah 41 we again heard God predict the future, and challenge Israel’s idols to prophesy or do anything at all.

The Thessalonians must have wondered how they would hear of Jesus’ return— given that Jesus would touch down so far from them at Jerusalem. We will be able to anticipate Jesus’ return by whether the ‘man of lawlessness’ has appeared, has drawn away many people by working powerful miracles, and has usurped God’s position in the temple. Note that God has not given us the order or timing of these events in relation to what was foretold in 1st Thessalonians.

Translation notes:
8 We did not accept [food from anyone//anyone's support] without paying for it. Instead, we worked and toiled; we kept working day and night so as not to be an expense to any of you.
9 We did this, not because we do not have the right to [receive such//demand our] support; we did it to be an example for you to follow.
10 While we were [still] with you, we used to tell you, “Whoever refuses to work is not allowed to eat.”
15 But do not treat them as enemies; instead, warn them as [beloved fellow] believers.

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Monday, November 28, 2016

DBRP_334 EST.5 EST.6 ISA.41.8-29 2TH.2

In Esther 3-4 Haman cast lots (purim) to find out that March 7 was the lucky date to exterminate the Jews. Mordecai requested that Esther intercede directly to the king. And since she hadn’t been called for, the only way to do that would endanger Esther herself, since no one was allowed to approach the king in the inner court uninvited.

Did you notice in yesterday’s reading, we heard a description of a king that sounded similar to one described in the book of Daniel?

2 GNT “Who was it that brought the conqueror from the east and makes him triumphant wherever he goes? Who gives him victory over kings and nations? His sword strikes them down as if they were dust. His arrows scatter them like straw before the wind.
3 He follows in pursuit and marches safely on, so fast that he hardly touches the ground!  Who was it that made this happen?
4 Who has determined the course of history? I, the Lord, was there at the beginning, and I, the Lord, will be there at the end.

Because of the amazingly fast progress of this king being like the description of Alexander the Great (the male goat) in Daniel 8, I previously thought that Isaiah was also describing Alexander. But Alexander came from the west. Instead, this is the same king as mentioned in verse 25 of today’s reading, and scholars say that he is most likely Cyrus. In a few chapters he will be mentioned by name, and chapter 41 is not the only time Isaiah alludes to him without mentioning his name.

In preparing for his topic of Christ’s return, in 2Thessalonians chapter 1 Paul mentioned the punishment of people who refuse to obey the Good News about Christ. They will ‘suffer’ or ‘pay the penalty of eternal destruction’. Note that if people are going to be burned up in hell, or if God’s punishment was simply that people would cease to exist, it would not be called ‘suffer eternal destruction’. This understanding is not just a doctrine. It turns out that this gives great comfort to those who are suffering persecution, and gives a great motivation to all of us for sharing the Good News.

Translation notes:
2 not to be so easily confused in your thinking or upset by the claim that the Day of the Lord has [already] come. Perhaps it is thought that we said this while prophesying or preaching, or [they may claim] that we wrote it in a letter.
3 Do not let anyone deceive you in any way. For the Day [of the Lord’s return] will not come until the final Rebellion takes place and the Wicked One appears, who is destined to hell.
7 The Mysterious Wickedness is already at work, but what is going to happen will not happen until the one who [is holding//holds] it back is taken out of the way.
10 and [he will] use every kind of wicked deceit on those who will perish. They will perish because they did not welcome and love the truth so as to be saved.
13 We must thank God at all times for you, friends, you whom the Lord loves. For God chose you as the [very beginning//first] to be saved by [the purifying work of His Spirit//the Spirit's power to make you his holy people] and by your [belief//faith] in the truth.

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Sunday, November 27, 2016

DBRP_333 EST.3 EST.4 ISA.41.1-20 2TH.1

Yesterday we heard how Esther became the queen, and how she continued to keep her Jewish background a secret. We also heard how Mordecai, her uncle, was promoted to a palace official after uncovering a plot to assassinate king Xerxes.

Today we are introduced to the villain of the story— Haman. The Jews always read the book of Esther in the celebration of Purim. Whenever Haman’s name is read they boo and shake rattles or noisemakers to drown out his name.

Translation note:
7 NLT Mordecai told him the whole story, including the exact amount of money Haman had promised to pay into the royal treasury for the destruction of the Jews.//GNT Mordecai told him everything that had happened to him and just how much money Haman had promised to put into the royal treasury if all the Jews were killed.

The shift to such beautiful poetry that occurs in chapter 40 of Isaiah is one of the things that has made people think the last part of this book was authored by someone else. But that is the silly. As I have pointed out as we have gone along, Isaiah has written beautiful and memorize-able verses from the beginning of this book. And Isaiah’s amazing predictions about the Messiah are not just found in chapter 53, as we heard again yesterday.

Did you notice yesterday that the little book of Philemon is a picture of the Gospel? Philemon is in the place of God. Paul is an advocate like Jesus. Picture yourself in the position of a runaway slave. I give a hint here for digging deeper in Philemon: There is a wonderful play of words that happens twice based on the name Onesimus.

I hope that you recall that we read 1st Thessalonians several months ago. 2nd Thessalonians seems to have been written soon after the first letter, around 51 AD. Paul was evidently still at Corinth. And the letter seems to have been written to clarify a very important point about Christ’s second coming. This letter contains some of the clearest teaching about the antichrist— although Paul does not use that term.

Constable’s notes say, “Paul wrote to encourage the Thessalonian believers to continue to persevere in the face of continuing persecution (1:3-10). He also wanted to clarify events preceding the day of the Lord to dispel false teaching (2:1-12). Finally, he instructed the church how to deal with lazy Christians in their midst (3:6-15).” Constable’s notes can be found at

Translation note:
11 That is why we always pray for you. We ask our God to make you worthy of the life he has called you to live. May he fulfill by his power all your desire for goodness and complete [every good deed that you do because of your belief in Christ//your work of faith].

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Saturday, November 26, 2016

DBRP_332 EST.1 EST.2 ISA.40.15-31 PHM.1

In the final two chapters of Nehemiah, we heard of the culmination of Nehemiah’s work— the ceremony for the dedication of the wall. The people proved that the wall could stand up to more than just a fox walking on it. Then Nehemiah went back to Babylon. When he came back to Jerusalem, he needed to right several wrongs, as the people had allowed a deterioration in the temple worship.

We now turn to the book of Esther, which may have been written by Mordecai (a major character in the book), or by Ezra or Nehemiah, who would have known this story. The king Xerxes was defeated in a famous naval battle against Greece. From the historian Herodotus we find that the feast mentioned in the first chapter of Esther was the occasion for planning that battle. Esther has been compared to Joseph and David. She also started out as just an ordinary person, but God planned something great for her.

Translation note:
3 In the third year of his reign he gave a banquet for all his officials and administrators. The [military commanders//armies] of Persia and Media were present, as well as the governors and noblemen of the provinces.

The three memorable musical compositions in Handel’s Messiah that quote from this chapter are taken from just verses 1-11. We will find more memorable verses in today’s reading.

In chapter 4 of Colossians we heard Paul encourage alertness in prayer and making the most of every opportunity to share the Good News. Our speech should be— when literally translated, ‘seasoned with salt’. NLT does a nice job translating that meaningfully as ‘attractive’, and GNT also get’s right to the point with ‘interesting’.

Along with other people, Onesimus was mentioned at the end of Colossians. He was the slave of Philemon. It is likely that the letter Paul mentioned “from Laodicea” at the end of Colossians was the letter that we will read now! I wish that we knew if Onesimus was so attracted to the Gospel after over-hearing Paul speak at Philemon’s house that he ran away to search for Paul during the time when he was under house arrest in Rome. Or did Onesimus just run away as any ordinary slave might do and just ‘happen’ to ‘end up’ in prison with Paul in Rome? Each story would be fascinating!

Translation note:
5 For I hear of your love for all of God's people and [your full belief//the faith you have] in the Lord Jesus.

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Friday, November 25, 2016

DBRP_331 NEH.12 NEH.13 ISA.40.1-17 COL.4

In yesterday’s chapters in Nehemiah, we heard the names of the various religious and civil leaders who signed the statement of commitment to follow Moses’ Law, which was almost certainly penned by Ezra. Then there was a listing of the various leaders and clans that volunteered or were chosen by lot to live in Jerusalem.

Translation note:
12:26 These people lived during the time of Joiakim, the son of Joshua and grandson of Jehozadak, and [during my time as//the time of Nehemiah the] governor, and the time of Ezra, the priest who was a scholar of the Law.

I am always very disappointed with Hezekiah when he does not pray and ask the Lord to not allow Jerusalem to be conquered by Babylon and not to allow his sons to become eunuchs in Babylon’s palace. God had already responded amazingly to him in answering his prayers. The New Testament teaches us to be alert in prayer, and I think that includes being alert to what to pray for.

Today we start the glorious final section of Isaiah, with favorite words set to music in Handel’s Messiah.

Our resurrection to a new life because of being one with Christ, is not just being raised from death to live again on this earth. We get raised right to heaven. Our true spiritual life is found in our unity with Christ who is in heaven at God’s side. Literally Paul expressed this as ‘your life is hidden with Christ in (unity with) God’. The picture continues with our bodies and evil desires being pictured like clothes. We put off the old life like old clothes and put on the new life like new clothes.

Yesterday’s chapter ended with instructions for wives, husbands, children, fathers, and slaves. Today’s chapter continues with the instruction to masters.

Translation note:
12 Greetings from Epaphras, another member of your group and a servant of Christ Jesus. He always prays fervently for you, asking God to make you stand firm, as mature and fully convinced [believers//Christians], in complete obedience to God's will.

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Thursday, November 24, 2016

DBRP_330 NEH.10 NEH.11 ISA.39 COL.2.13-23 COL.3

The returned exiles showed how sincere they were in following the Lord! They gathered together for the express purpose of hearing the Law. By this time their language had changed so much that they needed 13 Levites to explain what was said in the readings. The people wept because they realized how far they were from obeying the Law of Moses, and also for joy in hearing it. One month later, the leaders gathered to explore the Law in more detail, and they found that Israel had always neglected celebrating the Festival of Shelters. They did that for the prescribed week with great joy. Ezra read the Law to the people every day. Then afterward, there was a meeting for confessing their sins including the long prayer in chapter 9. This seems to have been an extra event, about one week after the Festival of Shelters was over. After that prayer,

38 NLT The people responded, “In view of all this, we are making a solemn promise and putting it in writing. On this sealed document are the names of our leaders and Levites and priests.”

Translation note:
1 [I, Nehemiah son of Hacaliah, was the first to sign,//The first to sign was the governor, Nehemiah son of Hacaliah,] and then Zedekiah signed. The following also signed:

After the prophet Isaiah told Hezekiah that he would die, in 2nd King’s 20 we are told that Isaiah only managed to get to the middle courtyard when the Lord’s message came answering Hezekiah’s prayer. Fifteen years were added to Hezekiah’s life, and he received the promise that the Assyrian king would not conquer Jerusalem. In his poem of thanks, Hezekiah said:

15 NLT But what could I say?
For [God/he] himself sent this sickness.
Now I will walk humbly throughout my years
because of this anguish I have felt.

Note the distinction about old Jewish religious laws that Paul made in chapter 2, comparing them with the right standing true believers obtain by union with Christ. We’re not in a religion anymore, we’re in a new relationship with God through Christ. Those old religious regulations had no ability to help one conquer our persistent evil desires. Following the teachings in the New Testament does indeed allow us to be freed from bondage to evil desires. One important way this deliverance happens when we understand, believe, and meditate upon spiritual realities such as those found in 2:13-15, and 20-23. We read other keys recently in Philippians 3-4. And if you are interested in more on this topic, I encourage you to follow the reading plan I posted in Youversion/ called Buckling the Belt of Truth.

Translation notes:
18 Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands, for that is what [is appropriate for you who live in union with Christ.//you should do as Christians.]
20 Children, [0//it is your Christian duty to] obey your parents [in everything they tell you//always], for that is what pleases [the Lord//God].

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Wednesday, November 23, 2016

DBRP_329 NEH.8 NEH.9 ISA.38 COL.2

Nehemiah 7 dealt with listing the various families and temple workers who came back after exile. The last verse in that chapter is the transition to the next events. It is so much of a transition that NLT has verse 73 end with an incomplete sentence. Here is that transition verse in the GNT:

73 The priests, the Levites, the Temple guards, the musicians, many of the ordinary people, the Temple workers—all the people of Israel—settled in the towns and cities of Judah.

Translation note:
9 When the people heard what the Law required, they were so moved that they began to cry. So [I,] Nehemiah, [0//who was] the governor, Ezra, the priest and scholar of the Law, and the Levites who were explaining the Law told all the people, “This day is holy to the Lord your God, so you are not to mourn or cry.

In chapter 37 yesterday, we heard of Hezekiah’s triumph through his prayer. As we have seen before in Isaiah (and not just in Isaiah’s message to the king), this defeat was prophesied, and we heard the fulfillment yesterday.

After that wonderful poem in Colossians chapter 1— which I can barely resist reading to you a second time, Paul says these things:

21 At one time you were far away from God and were his enemies because of the evil things you did and thought.
22 But now, by means of the physical death of his Son, God has made you his friends, in order to bring you, holy, pure, and faultless, into his presence.

Then in talking about the revelation of the Good News, he says,

26 NLT This message was kept secret for centuries and generations past, but now it has been revealed to God’s people.
27 For God wanted them to know that the riches and glory of Christ are for you Gentiles, too. And this is the secret: Christ lives in you. This gives you assurance of sharing his glory.

Translation notes:
7 Keep your roots deep in him, build your lives on him, and [keep on becoming//become] stronger in your [belief in in Jesus//faith], as you were taught. And be filled with thanksgiving.
12 For when you were baptized, you were buried with Christ, and in baptism you were also raised with Christ through your [belief//faith] in the active power of God, who raised him from death.
21 “Don't handle this,” “Don't taste that,” “Don't touch [that other thing//the other]”?

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Tuesday, November 22, 2016

DBRP_328 NEH.7 ISA.37 COL.1

Yesterday we read how Nehemiah stood up for all the common people in their financial difficulty. The nobles were rich, but everyone else was suffering— some even having no option but to sell their own children into slavery. Amazingly, he succeeded in convincing the nobles to forgive debts, and forced them take a solemn oath about that. The wall was finished in just 52 days, but Nehemiah was getting more and more threats from Sanballat and his cronies.

We heard the challenge and mocking of the Assyrian chief of staff— who brought the Assyrian King’s message to Jerusalem with a huge show of force. The challenge was shouted out in Hebrew for all the people to hear. (I always wonder how it was that the Assyrian commander was fluent in Hebrew!) What a thing to happen to a king that 2Kings 18 praises with these words:

5 [NLT] Hezekiah trusted in the LORD, the God of Israel. There was no one like him among all the kings of Judah, either before or after his time.

We finished the wonderful book of Philippians yesterday. I count three great promises in that 4th chapter. But note: This time I feel that all of them are really conditional promises— even the last one. If we are going to have God’s peace guarding our hearts and minds, and if we want God to supply our needs, then we must give attention to how Paul told the Philippians to live and how they were giving to support Paul’s mission.

I encourage everyone to spend more time looking at the treasures of Philippians, and the same goes for the book we start today— Colossians.

Colossians was written around the same time as Philippians, and Philemon was a member of this church. This letter has another wonderful poetic portion in chapter one exalting Christ. In most of my presentations in Indonesian seminaries, I introduce our translation by reading Colossians 2. The things Indonesians don’t understand in their Bibles— and the things I hope you will understand in the GNT or NLT, are spiritual realities. These are things that are true of us spiritually which cannot be seen with physical eyes. If you understand spiritual realities, you get the opportunity to believe them. If you believe them, meditate on them. If you meditate on them, you will find them working powerfully in your life to transform you and release you from sinful desires.

Translation notes:
4 For we have heard of your [belief//faith] in Christ Jesus and of your love for all God's people.
5 When the true message, the Good News, first came to you, you heard about the hope it offers. So your [belief//faith] and love are based on what you hope for, which is kept safe for you in heaven.

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Monday, November 21, 2016

DBRP_327 NEH.5 NEH.6 ISA.36 PHP.4

Yesterday Nehemiah gave a listing of the people who rebuilt the wall. This included Shallum and his daughters, and two named goldsmiths, merchants, priests and Levites. The residents of the land opposed to the construction were threatening violence, so the people armed themselves and had men on guard at all times. Nehemiah and his men stayed fully armed at all times, and in the last verse of chapter 4 NLT says ‘even when they went for water’— which I take as a euphemism for going potty. That little phrase is very obscure in Hebrew, and GNT translates it in a different way.

It was interesting to find this verse near the beginning of Isaiah’s beautiful chapter 35:

3 Give strength to hands that are tired
and to knees that tremble with weakness.

This verse was probably in the mind of the writer of Hebrews in chapter 13. And in fact, the Holy Highway and its destination is very much like the ‘place’ we ‘come to’ in Hebrews 13!

Today we start on the prose portion of Isaiah from chapters 36-39.

I have found deep meaning and great spiritual help from the portion around verse 13 in chapter 3. And I am certainly not alone in that. Here are some of the most quoted verses in this letter:

13 NLT No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved [perfection//it], but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead,
14 I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.
15 Let all who are spiritually mature agree on these things...

I would like to point out that twice in this chapter Paul points us to heaven. One is in the verses I just quoted, and the other in verse 20, where he says, “We are citizens of heaven.” Note that he calls all of us to keep our focus forward and lengthen our stride as we run toward heaven. All of us! There is no other destination for believers ever mentioned in the Bible. Wherever Jesus is, that’s where we’ll be. And that’s why Paul says repeatedly, dying is better and would simply bring him nearer Christ. If as Revelation portrays, the New Jerusalem comes down to earth, then that is heaven and that’s where we will be. There is no such thing as a Purgatory. And neither is there a separation of believers, where the really holy ones get to go to heaven and the not so good ones stay on earth. There is only hell and heaven. And if you are a believer in Christ, you are a citizen of heaven and you will be right where Jesus is.

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Sunday, November 20, 2016

DBRP_326 NEH.3 NEH.4 ISA.35 PHP.3


After Nehemiah’s wonderful prayer for Jerusalem, more than three months went by before the king noticed him looking sad. He says he had never before looked sad, so he must have waited. God must have been in the timing, because the king wonderfully agreed to help Nehemiah in every way. And the leaders in Jerusalem also were enthusiastic in their acceptance of his proposal to rebuild the walls.

Yesterday we heard that the land of Edom would become an eternal wasteland and a home for owls and other creatures. The land of Edom is in modern-day Jordan, and GoogleMaps shows almost nothing green in that whole area.

Yesterday we heard Paul’s wonderful poem of praise about Christ’s humility and subsequent exaltation to the highest place.

And we heard this promise:

13 because God is always at work in you to make you willing and able to obey his own purpose.

Translation note:
9 [PET And I just want to remain joined as one with Him. The way I’m made right before God is not based my efforts to obey the Law. Instead I am made right in God’s sight only because of Christ! I fully believe in what Christ has done, and through that belief alone I am made right in God's sight.//GNT and be completely united with him. I no longer have a righteousness of my own, the kind that is gained by obeying the Law. I now have the righteousness that is given through faith in Christ, the righteousness that comes from God and is based on faith.]

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Saturday, November 19, 2016

DBRP_325 NEH.1 NEH.2 ISA.34 PHP.2

Yesterday we heard how the returned exiles responded to Ezra’s shock and demonstration of his sorrow, and his prayer of repentance. The book ended with the names of those who were found guilty of forbidden marriages. Note that these are not just names of the guilty, but names of those who repented and sacrificed to God. They are the names of the forgiven. In some ways— and not all, this shows the kind of seriousness with which church discipline spoken of in the New Testament should be conducted. (Matthew 18, 1 & 2 Corinthians)

As I said just a few days ago, the book of Nehemiah was— according to Jewish tradition, written by Ezra, and this book was originally bundled with the book of Ezra. Nehemiah and Ezra had to have been close friends. If Ezra wrote the book of Nehemiah, he did so as one writing Nehemiah’s testimony, since Nehemiah speaks in the first person throughout the book. Nehemiah is a wonderful example of a man living in prayerful trust of the Lord, and a man willing to take on huge tasks because of his full belief in God. He is a wonderful example of a leader who does not take advantage of his position to enrich himself, but works for the good of all the people.

Yesterday, amid the statements of judgment for Assyria in chapter 33, we still heard amazing prophecies in Isaiah. Here are two of them:

17 GNT Once again you will see a king ruling in splendor over a land that stretches in all directions.
24 No one who lives in our land will ever again complain of being sick, and all sins will be forgiven.

Here is a promise to claim from the first chapter of Philippians:

6 And so I am sure that God, who began this good work in you, will carry it on until it is finished on the Day of Christ Jesus.

Translation notes:
7 [PET But He humbled Himself and left everything.
Then He took the lowliest status of a servant to serve us,
and came to this world as a normal human being.
And as a human being,//GNT Instead of this, of his own free will he gave up all he had, and took the nature of a servant. He became like a human being and appeared in human likeness.]
17 [PET You fully believe in Him, and so you sacrifice your lives to serve God. So even if I have to give my own blood along with your sacrifice— meaning if I’m killed in the fight to maintain our belief in Christ,* I’ll still rejoice. And I want you also to feel that joy along with me.//GNT Perhaps my life's blood is to be poured out like an offering on the sacrifice that your faith offers to God. If that is so, I am glad and share my joy with you all.]
18 [PET Yes, join in being happy with me and be full of joy with me!// GNT In the same way, you too must be glad and share your joy with me.]

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Friday, November 18, 2016

DBRP_324 EZR.9 EZR.10 ISA.33 PHP.1

EZRA 9-10:
Yesterday we heard how Ezra introduced himself. Note that he spoke of himself in the 3rd person, but finally resorted to ‘I’. King Artaxerxes was certainly impressed by Ezra! Ezra was given  everything he could have wanted, guaranteeing full government support of the temple worship in every way. Note how methodical Ezra was, making sure that he took Levites and temple servants along. His total party must have been at least 1,000 men. So with women and children, it would have been quite a group. And evidently others were coming back separately as well.

Having eyes to see and ears to hear is a theme in Isaiah, and remember what Jesus always said, “You got ears, don’t ya? Well then use them!” (My translation.) So this part of yesterday’s reading bears repeating:

1 NLT Look, a righteous king is coming!
And honest princes will rule under him.
2 Each one will be like a shelter from the wind
and a refuge from the storm,
like streams of water in the desert
and the shadow of a great rock in a parched land.
3 Then everyone who has eyes will be able to see the truth,
and everyone who has ears will be able to hear it.

Remember how Paul in 2nd Corinthians showed clearly that he loved the Corinthian believers. Now in Philippians, written around the year 61 when Paul was under house arrest in Rome, we have a love letter to the Philippian church. However unlike 2nd Corinthians, in this letter there is no scolding. This is a prison letter. Paul has suffered so much! Yet there is such a tone of joy in this letter from beginning to end. One is reminded that it was in Philippi where Paul and Silas were unjustly beaten and put in the lowest dungeon, but were singing praises in the middle of the night.

This letter includes Paul’s wonderful poem of praise about the humility of Christ and the final outcome of his self-sacrifice. And Paul exhorts us to imitate Christ in his humility. This also means that we should forgive one another and strive for unity. Note the example of the Euodia and Syntyche in chapter 4. And this letter of Philippians holds some of the most precious promises in Scripture. Let’s find them and claim them!

Translation notes:
15 Of course [there are some people who//some of them] preach Christ because they are jealous and quarrelsome, but others from genuine good will.
16 [Those in that last group//These] do so from love, because they know that God has given me the work of defending the gospel.
17 The others[, however,] do not proclaim Christ sincerely, but from a spirit of selfish ambition; they think that they will make more trouble for me while I am in prison.
25 I am sure of this, and so I know that I will stay. I will stay on with you all, to add to your progress and joy in [fully believing in Christ//the faith],
27 Now, the important thing is that your way of life should be as the gospel of Christ requires, so that, whether or not I am able to go and see you, I will hear that you are standing firm with one common purpose and that with only one desire you are fighting together for [belief in the gospel of Christ//the faith of the gospel].

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Thursday, November 17, 2016

DBRP_323 EZR.7 EZR.8 ISA.32 2CO.12.19-21 2CO.13

EZRA 7-8:
Yesterday we read of how King Darius completely sided with the Israelites seeking to reestablish the temple worship. Note that the letter to Darius from the government officials was rather complementary and not threatening loss to the king’s interests as the letter from the earlier officials. Remember also that this King Darius is the one who was duped into putting Daniel into the lions’ den, and who then issued a decree that everyone must respect Daniel’s God.

Isaiah’s prophecy in yesterday’s reading certainly came true!

8 NLT “The Assyrians will be destroyed,
but not by the swords of men.
The sword of God will strike them,
and they will panic and flee.

That happened on the night recorded in 2Kings 19 where the Lord put to death 185,000 men. Quote,

“When the surviving Assyrians woke up the next morning, they found corpses everywhere.”

Yesterday we read the reasons why Paul boasted about his weaknesses— something that is utterly unintuitive for worldly people to understand. Then Paul continued to speak about what he hoped NOT to find on his upcoming visit to the Corinthian believers.

Chapter 13 is another good place to tout the virtues of a good meaning based translation. Paul uses the word ‘test’ in three different senses in this chapter. This makes several verses hard to understand in a literal translation. The NLT and the GNT have done a good job helping the reader understand the different senses in which Paul used that word.

Translation notes:
4 For even though it was in weakness that he was put to death on the cross, it is by God's power that he lives. In union with him we also are weak; but in our relations with you we shall share God's power in [Christ’s//his] life.
5  Put yourselves to the test and judge yourselves, to find out whether you are living in [full belief in Christ//faith]. Surely you know that Christ Jesus is in you[, don’t you?]— unless you [completely fail in that test of belief.//have completely failed.]
6 I trust you will know that we are not failures [in proving apostolic power//as apostles of Christ//0].

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Wednesday, November 16, 2016

DBRP_322 EZR.5 EZR.6 ISA.31 2CO.11.30-33 2CO.12

EZRA 5-6:
When the Israelites returned from exile, they were determined to get worship started again, and they made great progress, not waiting for the temple to be repaired in order to start sacrifices on an altar built upon the old location. They made a fast start to building too. But then opposition developed, and several Persian kings later the progress was halted.

One of the great verses from yesterday’s reading was this:

15 The Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says to the people, “Come back and quietly trust in me. Then you will be strong and secure.” But you refuse to do it.

And here is a good summary verse:

18 And yet the Lord is waiting to be merciful to you. He is ready to take pity on you because he always does what is right. Happy are those who put their trust in the Lord.

2CORINTHIANS 11:30—12:
Paul took his gloves off yesterday and was forced to talk like a madman. I like how some of Paul’s statements drip with irony in that section. And you gotta believe that is hard to translate!

The part we are about to read about Paul’s weakness is one of my favorites. We’ll start with re-reading the last four verses from chapter 11.

Translation note:
2 I know a certain [fellow believer in Christ//Christian man] who fourteen years ago was snatched up to the highest heaven (I do not know whether this actually happened or whether he had a vision—only God knows).

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Tuesday, November 15, 2016

DBRP_321 EZR.3 EZR.4 ISA.30 2CO.11

EZRA 3-4:
Ezra, a scribe and priest, doesn’t start speaking about himself until chapter 7. Originally the books of Ezra and Nehemiah were one book, and Jewish tradition holds that Ezra wrote both of them. The dates of writing are somewhere between 458 and 420 BC. Ezra deals with two periods of time: The rebuilding of the temple, and the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem.

Yesterday in Ezra we heard about Cyrus’ decree to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem, the return of the temple treasures that were taken to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar, and the first large wave of returning exiles and their gifts to God.

Yesterday’s reading in Isaiah 29 included several verses quoted in the New Testament about Israel’s hypocrisy. Then at the end, did you catch who Isaiah was talking about?

18 NLT In that day the deaf will hear words read from a book,
and the blind will see through the gloom and darkness.
20 The scoffer will be gone,
the arrogant will disappear,

Isaiah was NOT talking about the healing of just any ordinary deaf and blind people, but those people previously mentioned: The Israelites who refused to open their ears or open their eyes— who refused to read a book given to them, and yet were arrogant scoffers.
If you are NOT reading a good meaning-based translation, then it is very likely that you will misunderstand today reading in Isaiah 30 verse 7. The Rahab mentioned is NOT the woman that received Joshua’s spies!

Up to yesterday’s reading, Paul has been more reserved in criticising the men who have come masquerading as apostles. Those men have been more forceful speakers than Paul, and it has seemed that Paul is only bold in his letters. He said,

12 NLT Oh, don’t worry; we wouldn’t dare say that we are as wonderful as these other men who tell you how important they are!

But we will see that Paul takes his gloves off as we go forward. Yet, what he boasts about follows that verse he quoted from Jeremiah:

17 NLT As the Scriptures say, “If you want to boast, boast only about the LORD.”

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Monday, November 14, 2016

DBRP_320 EZR.1 EZR.2 ISA.29 2CO.10

There is much for digging deeper in the last two chapters of Daniel. History tells about those kings, and we know from what Jesus said and what is written in Revelation, that God plans for history to repeat itself. The main ‘take-away’ points are clear, just as they are in Revelation: Blessed are those who endure and live wise and holy lives.

It is a great time now to return to those three small remaining books of history remaining for us to read this year: Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther. These books allow us to see the fulfilment of prophecies we have read about. King Cyrus was one of the kings served by Daniel and alluded to in his prophetic visions. Now, in Ezra, we will read Cyrus’ proclamation, which is in accordance with Jeremiah’s prophecy about the 70 year duration of the exile in Babylonia. And we haven’t read it yet, but Isaiah specifically names Cyrus twice— writing about him some 150 to 200 years before Cyrus was born.

The advantage of reading a meaning based translation like the GNT/NLT is that you readers and listeners had the pleasure of understanding the mocking of Isaiah (or God, in the NLT) by the people of Israel, and Isaiah and God’s mocking response (28:7-13). Then in that context, it is shocking to find the famous verses quoted in the New Testament:

16 NLT Therefore, this is what the Sovereign LORD says:
“Look! I am placing a foundation stone in Jerusalem,
a firm and tested stone.
It is a precious cornerstone that is safe to build on.
Whoever believes need never be shaken.

The New Testament quotes this verse three times. In all three, the last line has the object “believes in him” (Jesus) because Paul and Peter quoted from the Septuagint, the ancient translation of the OT into Greek.

The heart of what Paul was teaching about in chapter 9 about the practice of Christian charity is this:
6 Remember that the person who plants few seeds will have a small crop; the one who plants many seeds will have a large crop.
8 And God is able to give you more than you need, so that you will always have all you need for yourselves and more than enough for every good cause.
15 Let us thank God for his priceless gift!

Just like Philippians 4, it should never be forgotten that the promise of God providing (such as v.8) is found in the context of people who are unselfishly supporting God’s work.

Translation note:
3 It is true that we live in the world, but we do not fight [with worldly motives or methods//from worldly motives].

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Sunday, November 13, 2016

DBRP_319 DAN.10.20-21 DAN.11 DAN.12 ISA.28 2CO.9

DANIEL 10:20—12:
In yesterday’s reading, we heard Daniel’s sincere prayer. Note that he had been seeking the Lord with limited fasting for 3 weeks. Then the angel Gabriel is again sent with a message for Daniel. Note that the phrase ‘anoint the Most Holy Place’ is probably referring to what we read about in Hebrews recently— that which our High Priest Jesus did in heaven. Gabriel’s message about seventy sets of seven, or seventy weeks and 62 weeks, are both a difficult translational problem and a prophetic mystery. If we could solve the prophetic mystery, then we would know how to translate it.

Then in chapter 10, Daniel saw the awesome angel, and Daniel was so overcome that he needed to be strengthened in order to hear and understand the angel’s message. Note that the angel knew that Daniel’s prayers and humbling himself through fasting and other means were for the purpose of gaining understanding.

Yesterday’s chapter was again full of contrasts. Israel is God’s fruitful vine, and he slays the great sea serpent (which pictures Satan) for his vine. But then God also calls Israel a stupid nation and vows that they will not escape the punishment they deserve.

Translation note:
16 This, now, is what the Sovereign Lord says: “I am placing in Zion a foundation that is firm and strong. In it I am putting a solid cornerstone on which are written the words, ‘[Belief//Faith] that is firm is also patient.’

[This important verse is also translated as:
NIV84 the one who trusts will never be dismayed.
HCSB the one who believes will be unshakable.

The object “in Him” is added because of the Greek in the New Testament, because all three times the NT quotes this verse, it is quoted from the Greek Septuagint translation.]

Today we read the second of two chapters encouraging the Corinthian church to participate in the monetary help that Paul and his friends were proposing for the believers back in Judea. In chapter 8 Paul used the example of the Macedonian believers to spur the Corinthian church on. He also praised the Corinthians for being the first to think of this project. Now he urges them to do what they planned. Then he showed how this gift would be faithfully administered, and simultaneously put pressure on the Corinthian church with the arrival of men who were designated to be responsible for delivering the gifts. Verse 9 is a major motivation for giving generously to any cause the glorifies Christ:

9 You know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ; rich as he was, he made himself poor for your sake, in order to make you rich by means of his poverty.

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Saturday, November 12, 2016

DBRP_318 DAN.9 DAN.10 ISA.26.20-21 ISA.27 2CO.8

DANIEL 9-10:
Yesterday in Daniel, we heard of the vision of four beasts representing four kingdoms. After the fourth would be the start of the rule of One whose kingdom would last forever. This vision was explained, then Daniel had a second and more detailed vision. It is a major amazing sign of God’s sovereignty over human governments that Alexander the Great is so clearly portrayed, and then the iron kingdom of Rome. Just as certain as these things happened, our Savior’s reign will one day come to earth.

And I have been referring to Daniel 7 all year, to the section where a man came who looked like a ‘human being’ (in the GNT) surrounded by clouds. The words ‘human being’ are literally in Hebrew ‘son of man’, an expression which simply means a normal-looking human being. It is the same title God so frequently used for Ezekiel and which was translated as ‘Mortal man.’ Listen again about this unique Son of Man:

7:14 GNT “He was given authority, honor, and royal power, so that people of all nations, races, and languages would serve him. His authority would last forever and his kingdom would never end.”

ISAIAH 26:20—27:
There were beautiful verses in yesterday’s reading, too many to review. I choose to highlight verses 2-4:

2 Open the city gates and let the faithful nation enter,
the nation whose people do what is right.
3 You, Lord, give perfect peace
to those who keep their purpose firm
and put their trust in you.
4 Trust in the Lord forever;
he will always protect us.

I found it interesting that Israel’s suffering was compared to a woman in childbirth, but unlike a childbirth, Israel produced nothing:

18 We were in pain and agony, but we gave birth to nothing. We have won no victory for our land; we have accomplished nothing.

Israel was supposed to share the knowledge of the Lord with other peoples, but they neglected to do that.

Yesterday we heard of the terrible time of suffering Paul and his companions faced in Macedonia, where he had gone to find Titus. But when Titus came, it brought wonderful joy, because he brought such encouraging news about the Corinthian believers.

Translation note:
7 You are so rich in all you have: in [your full belief in Christ//faith], speech, and knowledge, in your eagerness to help and in your love for us. And so we want you to be generous also in this service of love.

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Friday, November 11, 2016

DBRP_317 DAN.7 DAN.8 ISA.26 2CO.6.11-18 2CO.7

In Daniel yesterday, we heard the famous ‘writing on the wall’ chapter. That is where that idiom in English comes from! While that was happening with King Belshazzar, the Medes and Persians were outside the wall and the prophecies of Ezekiel, Isaiah and Jeremiah all happened. Daniel was to be proclaimed the third ruler because Belshazzar was in fact the second ruler under his absentee father, Nabonidus. Then under King Darius, Daniel was thrown to the lions. I am estimating that Daniel would have been around 70 years old at that time.

Yesterday’s reading in Isaiah was not primarily dark with the sun piercing the darkness momentarily, but was a sunny psalm of praise. We heard even of the marriage supper of the Lamb, and there were glorious verses like this:

4 (NLT) But you are a tower of refuge to the poor, O LORD,
a tower of refuge to the needy in distress.
You are a refuge from the storm
and a shelter from the heat.

But at the end of yesterday’s chapter, gloomy clouds blew in with a word about the nation of Moab.

In our first reading in chapter 6 we have already heard what it meant practically for Paul and his fellow apostles to be led as ‘captives’ or ‘prisoners’ in Christ’s victory parade.

2:14 But thanks be to God! For in union with Christ we are always led by God as prisoners in Christ's victory procession. …

The Greek does not actually have a word that corresponds to ‘prisoner’, but that seems to be Paul’s meaning when one factors in what Paul said in chapter 6. So being in this parade doesn’t mean a life of ease. Even though in chapter 5 he says they are Christ’s ambassadors, they are ambassadors that carry precious treasure in earthen vessels— very aware that the earthly tent (their bodies) could be destroyed at any time. It cost them so much to deliver this message:

1 As God’s partners, we beg you not to accept this marvelous gift of God’s kindness and then ignore it.
2 (NLT) For God says,
“At just the right time, I heard you.
On the day of salvation, I helped you.”
Indeed, the “right time” is now. Today is the day of salvation.


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Thursday, November 10, 2016

DBRP_316 DAN.5 DAN.6 ISA.25 2CO.5.14-21 2CO.6.1-13

Yesterday we heard two stories: That of Nebuchadnezzar’s statue of gold and the exciting way God delivered Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. And the second story was Nebuchadnezzar himself sharing about his dream and how he was later humbled.

Yesterday’s reading in Isaiah talked of the destruction of the whole earth, but here again as typical in Isaiah, the sun was allowed to break through the clouds. We look forward to a city where God himself will outshine the sun.

2CORINTHIANS 5:14—6:13:
Here is part of Paul’s discussion about the earthly tents/bodies we all have, and heavenly bodies we will one day have:

6 So we are always full of courage. We know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord's home.
7 For our life is a matter of [believing//faith], not of [seeing//sight].
8 We are full of courage and would much prefer to leave our home in the body and be at home with the Lord.
9 More than anything else, however, we want to please him, whether in our home here or there.

Paul returns to his theme about the the apostolic ministry that God has given to him and his companions, and especially now their commission to share the message of reconciliation with God.

Translation note:
(PET) 18 And the source of all of those life-changes is God Himself— who by Christ’s mediation has made us at peace with Him again. Then He sent us out to tell about that offer of peace.
19 What we tell is that God— through the death of Christ, has opened the way for each person in this world to be at peace with Himself. For those of us who are joined in union with Christ, God no longer counts our sins and wrongdoings against us. That’s the news of restored peace that God entrusted to us!
20 It means that we’ve become messengers of Christ— our King. Through us God is inviting and calling each of you to listen to this message: In Christ Jesus’ name be restored to peace with God!
[I decided to use our Plain English Translation for the three verses above. In verse 18, using the words ‘making others his friends’ sounds a bit like Paul and the apostles would be twisting people’s arms. But verse 19 makes the reconciliation that God offers sound like universal salvation to all human beings. (This means that everyone would be saved without the need for repentance and following Christ. This heresy is still around in the world, and that is not what Paul meant here.)]
(GNT) 18 All this is done by God, who through Christ changed us from enemies into his friends and gave us the task of making others his friends also.
19 Our message is that God was making all human beings his friends through Christ. God did not keep an account of their sins, and he has given us the message which tells how he makes them his friends.
20 Here we are, then, speaking for Christ, as though God himself were making his appeal through us. We plead on Christ's behalf: let God change you from enemies into his friends!
9 [We are treated] as unknown, yet we are known by all; [people act] as though we were dead, but, as you see, we live on.

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Wednesday, November 9, 2016

DBRP_315 DAN.3 DAN.4 ISA.24 2CO.4.10-18 2CO.5.1-15

So what are the parts of the statue in yesterday’s reading? From Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary:

  1. The head of gold signified the Chaldean empire, then in being.
    2. The breast and arms of silver signified the empire of the Medes and Persians.
    3. The belly and thighs of brass signified the Grecian empire, founded by Alexander.
    4. The legs and feet of iron signified the Roman empire. The Roman empire branched into ten kingdoms, as the toes of [the//these] feet [of the statue]. Some were weak as clay, others strong as iron. Endeavours [were made] to unite them, for strengthening the empire, but in vain.
    The stone cut out without hands, represented the kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ, which [will//should] be set up in the kingdoms of the world, upon the ruins of Satan's kingdom in them. This was the Stone which the builders refused, because it was not cut out by their hands, but it is become the head stone of the corner. Of the increase of Christ's government and peace there shall be no end. The Lord shall reign, not only to the end of time, but when time and days shall be no more. As far as events have gone, the fulfilling this prophetic vision has been most exact and undeniable; future ages shall witness this Stone destroying the image, and filling the whole earth.
Translation note:
17 [NLT If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty.//GNT If the God whom we serve is able to save us from the blazing furnace and from your power, then he will. [And see the footnote in the GNT.]

Yesterday we heard the oracle against the proud seafaring city-state of Tyre.

2CORINTHIANS 4:10—5:15:
One of the hard things about 2 Corinthians for a translator is that ‘we’ in Greek is just like ‘we’ in English. The two languages do not distinguish between ‘we-speakers-excluding-listeners’ and ‘we-inclusive-of-listeners’. So which is it in places like this? Well, primarily in chapter 4, I think that Paul is talking about ‘we apostles’ in this section. (Notice how the ‘we’ contrasts with ‘you/your’ in verses 12 and 15.) Note that analyzing Paul’s meaning that way does not mean that we can’t take what Paul says about himself and his friends and apply it to us as our ideal. Let’s determine to be like Paul in things like “fixing our gaze on things we cannot see.”

But in chapter 5, I believe Paul’s use of ‘we’ is inclusive of his hearers. We all have bodies that Paul pictures as our ‘earthly tent’.

Translation notes:
7 For our life is a matter of [believing//faith], not of [seeing//sight].
13 Are we really insane? [If so,] It is for God's sake. Or are we sane? Then it is for your sake.

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Tuesday, November 8, 2016

DBRP_314 DAN.2 ISA.23 2CO.3.12-18 2CO.4

In the first chapter of Daniel, we heard how Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah were faithful to God in not wanting to be defiled by the king’s food, and later they were found better than their companions and chosen for service to King Nebuchadnezzar.

Yesterday we heard two dramatic messages. One was about the failure of Jerusalem to appropriately respond to God’s impending judgment (which was remarkably like Nero fiddling while Rome burned). Then there was the message to Shebna, the palace administrator. Eliakim would take his place and be like a nail firmly driven in a wall, and the holder of the key to David’s house. He can be understood as a figure of Christ.

Remember the greater glory of the new covenant at the end of yesterday’s reading:

Translation notes:
3:14 Their minds, indeed, were closed; and to this very day their minds are covered with the same veil as they read the books of the old covenant. The veil is removed only when a person is joined [in union with//to] Christ.
4:12 This means that death is at work in us [apostles], but life is at work in you.
13 The scripture says, “I spoke because I believed.” In the same spirit of [belief//faith] we also speak because we believe.

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Monday, November 7, 2016

DBRP_313 DAN.1 ISA.22 2CO.2.14-17 2CO.3

Yesterday in Ezekiel, the land was divided in horizontal bands across the entire width of Israel. We will see the 12 gates of the New Jerusalem again in Revelation.

We start the little but immensely important book of Daniel today. Daniel wrote this sometime between 540 and 530 BC. As Daniel will relate, he was an exile to Babylon starting from 605 BC. For comparison, Ezekiel tells us that he was deported to Babylonia in 597 (and his location beside the Chebar river might have been 75 miles southeast of Babylon). So Daniel would have come to Babylon only 8 years earlier.

For listeners who are in-step with the 2016 calendar release dates, I realize just today that I uncritically followed GNT’s text and footnotes which identity the Daniel Ezekiel mentioned three times as a Ugaritic mythical figure named Danel, rather than being the prophet Daniel. I apologize that I didn’t dig deeper earlier on this topic! Only today I realize that GNT followed the scholarly opinion that was current in the 1960s to 1970s on the identity of Ezekiel’s Danel/Daniel. And liberal scholarly opinion at that time and even today is dead set against the the prophet Daniel living when he said he did. I agree with the two articles I link to here in the episode notes, and I will go back and correct my recordings of Ezekiel 14 and 28 accordingly. I think it plausible that Daniel’s miraculous deeds (publicized even in the king’s proclamations) would have made him famous in Ezekiel’s day. And the remote Ugaritic figure named Danel was not famed to be either wise or righteous.

Article: Did Ezekiel know Daniel?

Wallace: Who is Ezekiel’s Daniel?

Daniel is a wonderful example of what God can do with someone completely surrendered to the Lord. Note Daniel’s devotional habits and how he and his friends completely trusted in God.

The book has two clear sections. The first narrates history, and contains the famous stories we all love. The second is prophecy and revelation. Again, like Ezekiel, much of Daniel reappears in the book of Revelation. And as for the question if Daniel was a real prophet, note that Jesus thought he was!

Translation note:
2 The Lord let him capture King Jehoiakim and seize some of the Temple treasures. He took some prisoners back with him to the temple of his gods in Babylon, and put the captured treasures in the temple storerooms [there in Babylon].

Yesterday’s prophecies dealt with Babylon, Edom, and Arabia.

I want to emphasize the precious verses from the end of chapter 2, and these verses are important for understanding the beginning of chapter 3.

14 (NLT) But thank God! [God/He] has made us his captives and continues to lead us along in Christ’s triumphal procession. Now he uses us to spread the knowledge of Christ everywhere, like a sweet perfume.
15 Our lives are a Christ-like fragrance rising up to God. But this fragrance is perceived differently by those who are being saved and by those who are perishing.
16 To those who are perishing, we are a dreadful smell of death and doom. But to those who are being saved, we are a life-giving perfume. And who is adequate for such a task as this?
17 You see, we are not like the many hucksters who preach for personal profit. We preach the word of God with sincerity and with Christ’s authority, knowing that God is watching us.

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Sunday, November 6, 2016

DBRP_312 EZK.48 ISA.21 2CO.1.23-24 2CO.2

In the chapters from Ezekiel yesterday, we heard more rules for the prince’s worship and about temple kitchens and a beginning part about the division of the land. Very fascinating in that is the part about the river that comes out from the east side of the temple, including trees that are for healing, bearing fruit every month. We will soon hear about this river and the trees of life in Revelation.

Translation note:
30-34 There are twelve entrances to the city of Jerusalem. Each of the four walls measures 2,520 yards and [each wall has three gates//has three gates in it], each named for one of the tribes. …

Yesterday’s chapter in Isaiah was only six verses long. It always seems very unfair to me that Isaiah had to go about naked as a sign about two countries that were not even his own. Surely it was a sign for the people of Israel’s benefit as well. I wonder if Isaiah’s being ‘naked’ was really what we call stark naked. In some cultures, if a man is wearing a loin cloth, he is still called naked. Just as the description states, a person in a loin cloth will have their buttocks exposed.

At the beginning of chapter 2, Paul is still telling about his change of plans and showing why he doesn’t want to be misunderstood in his motives concerning that. I will read 23 in the NLT and 24 in the PET:

23 (NLT) Now I call upon God as my witness that I am telling the truth. The reason I didn’t return to Corinth was to spare you from a severe rebuke.
24 (PET) My purpose and that of the other apostles of Christ isn’t to command how each of you in the Corinthian church live out your beliefs. We are certain that each of you will keep standing firm in your belief. We just want to work with you so that your joy keeps on increasing because of living according to your beliefs.

Translation note:
4 I wrote you with a greatly troubled and distressed heart and with many tears; my purpose was not to make you sad, but to make you realize how much I love [all of you//you all].

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Saturday, November 5, 2016

DBRP_311 EZK.46 EZK.47 ISA.20 2CO.1

EZEKIEL 46-47:
Yesterday we heard regulations for the priests and Levites, about foreigners, and about the prince of Israel. Also there was the fascinating detail about the eastern gate, which must remain shut.

Yesterday we heard the prophecy against Egypt, but again it ends with a note of hope for Egypt.

Yesterday we finished the book of Hebrews. I would encourage anyone to camp out for a longer time in the 12th and 13th chapters. There is deep insight hidden there.

Here at the end of the year, we will be touring through some of the deepest writing of the New Testament— like what we experienced in Hebrews. 2nd Corinthians is such a letter. It is actually called “Paul’s hard letter.” And from a Bible translator’s experience, it is the hardest book in the New Testament to translate. This is because Paul shares his feelings deeply and in doing so he often draws fine distinctions— not wanting to be misunderstood. It is those fine shades of feelings that are so hard to translate.

2nd Corinthians is a book where Paul shares in an intensely personal way. First he shares about ministry setbacks and discouragement. In sharing these things, Paul also gives us golden keys to unlock comfort and encouragement in our lives. Then Paul shares several personal stories because he feels forced to. That is, because of comparisons drawn between him and false teachers, the Corinthian church needs to know information about Paul’s apostleship and relationship with Christ that Paul would prefer not to boast about.

Paul also urges the Corinthian church to complete their desire to minister financially to the needy fellow believers in Jerusalem. In teaching about ministering with Christian kindness, Paul gives valuable examples to us about the proper motivation for Christian charitable work and appropriate fund raising.

Translation note:
21 It is God himself who makes us, together with you, sure of our life in union with Christ; it is God himself who has [anointed us (with his Spirit to make us capable to serve Him),//set us apart,]
24 We are not trying to dictate to you what you must believe; we know that you stand firm in [our true beliefs//the faith]. Instead, we are working with you for your own happiness.

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JoySightigs_037 The Philosopher's Stone, and The Pins

Two parables of Safed the Sage (William E. Barton):

The Philosopher's Stone,

and The Pins

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Friday, November 4, 2016

DBRP_310 EZK.44 EZK.45 ISA.19 HEB.13

EZEKIEL 44-45:
In the vision of the ideal temple yesterday, we heard of the buildings of rooms for the priests and offerings, the altar, the glory of God coming to this temple, and the reason for this vision.

Yesterday in Isaiah we heard the prophecy about the defeat of the Ethiopians, and at the end of that message, there was a note of hope for that nation.

Yesterday (and even the day before) we returned to the place of rest which was the theme of chapters 3-4. Did you notice?! Compare the last verse of chapter 4 with the place where we ‘have come’ to in 10:22-24.

Translation notes:
1 Keep on loving one another as [brothers and sisters in the Lord//Christians].
7 Remember your former leaders, who spoke God's message to you. Think back on how they lived and died, and imitate [the way they lived out their beliefs//their faith].
8 [Christ Jesus//Jesus Christ] is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
[The correct order is ‘title’ then ‘name’ in English. We always say words like ‘president’, ‘senator’, and ‘doctor’ before a person’s name in that role. Greek can do the order either way. This is important because there are people in the world that think that ‘Christ’ is Jesus’ last name. The order is reversed in v.21 also.]
9 Do not let all kinds of strange teachings lead you from the right way. It is good to receive inner strength from [appreciating God’s gracious kindness//God's grace], and not by obeying rules about foods; those who obey these rules have not been helped by them.


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Thursday, November 3, 2016

DBRP_309 EZK.42 EZK.43 ISA.18 HEB.12

EZEKIEL 42-43:
In yesterday’s tour of the ideal temple we viewed the sanctuary and Most Holy Place.

Yesterday we heard of Damascus and Syria and Israel.

After recounting the more victorious heroes of faithful believing, the author spoke about all those unnamed people who victoriously suffered because of fully believing. The Faith Chapter ends with this:

39 All these people earned a good reputation because of their [fully believing//faith], yet none of them received all that God had promised. 40 For God had something better in mind for us, so that they would not reach perfection without us.

Translation note:
2 Let us keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, on whom our [believing//faith] depends from beginning to end. He did not give up because of the cross! On the contrary, because of the joy that was waiting for him, he thought nothing of the disgrace of dying on the cross, and he is now seated at the right side of God's throne.

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