August - Reading 21

Discussion in 'Bible Reading Plan 2016' started by Clint Kritzer, Aug 21, 2002.

  1. Clint Kritzer

    Clint Kritzer
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  2. Aaron

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    Clint already touched on this in the August - Reading 20 thread. I didn't get this prepared in time to post [​IMG] .

    The theme of Esther
    Though God's name is not mentioned, His providence is definitely implied. This sentiment is shared by J. S. Wright who said,
    Wright speculated that if Mordecai was the author (tradition and conservative scholarship ascribe the Book of Esther to Mordecai) his omission of the name of God may be due to Mordecai's desire to have the account included with the court records. Wright certainly has no high opinion of Mordecai's spirituality.
    and in another place he wrote,
    This seems reasonable if he was one of those who chose to stay behind while the faithful returned to Judah. Matthew Henry said in his exposition of the Book of Esther,
    It could very well be that Mordecai was not as concerned with God's purposes in history as he was with the condition of the Jews, and therefore simply left His name out.

    It is certain that mankind, left to his own judgment, would not have included this story in the canon of Scripture, but God does as He pleases that His purposes according to election might stand, Rom. 9:11. As Matthew Henry further said,
     
  3. Clint Kritzer

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    Yes, this Book has been exhaustively studied and, because of the Persian setting, has many extra-Biblical accounts to support the date of the writing.

    As quoted by Aaron:
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    These [those who stayed in Persia], one would think, should have been excluded the special protection of Providence, as unworthy the name of Israelites; but our God deals not with us according to our folly and weakness.
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    From what I have read (I wish I had the time, know how and resources to redo and reaffirm the research) scholars have put the return of the first exiles under Zerubbabel in the year 537-538 BC, going by the first verse of Ezra "In the first year of Cyrus, king of Persia..." The second wave of returning exiles under Ezra would have occured in 458 BC as demonstrated in Ezra 7:1 IF the Arexerxes mentioned in this verse is the first Persian king to bear this name. This follows to reason as Ezra and Nehemiah are shown to be contemporaries in the Scriptures and Nehemiah certainly returned in 445 BC as shown in Nehemiah 1:1.

    From these calculations most scholars seem to agree that the account of Esther is situated between the first returning of exiles and the second. We know (again, from extra-Biblical sources) that Xerxes, mentioned in Esther 1:1, ruled from 486-465 BC. It is interesting that the city of Susa was also Nehemiah's origin. The fact that there were military leaders present in Susa according to Esther 1:3 may indicate that this story begins just prior to the Persian campaigns against Greece from 482-479 BC.

    It is quite remarkable how much national pride existed among the Jews after nearly a century of captivity. In relation to the quote, it is difficult to speculate why some of the Jews would have remained in Susa upon Cyrus' decree in Ezra 1:1.

    Think I could have made a dryer post, Aaron? ;)
     
  4. Aaron

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  5. Aaron

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    Just kidding. ;) It was no dryer than mine.
     
  6. Clint Kritzer

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    Good evening -

    Certainly one other point about Esther is how well the story carries itself, very easy reading. One other resource I will add to this discussion is a map resource: http://www.wfu.edu/~zulick/300/maps/mapmain.html
    For the location of Susa, find the name Luristan west of the word Iran and go south two cities: http://www.wfu.edu/%7Ezulick/300/maps/Persia2.html

    This resource is much simpler showing just a few cities of the ancient world. http://www.wfu.edu/%7Ezulick/300/maps/Persia1.html

    We read today in Luke this Gospel's account of the Triumphal entry. This account occurs in all four Gospels and was a deliberate Messianic act (Zecharia 9:9). As was stated in the Matthew reading, the common use of the term "triumphal entry" referred to returning conquerors riding into cities on a large steed. The image of Christ humbly riding into Jerusalem on a lowly donkey creates a caricature of such an event.

    As previously stated about Titus, the central theme of this Letter is stressing doing what is right. Paul was quite concerned about the image that the church in Crete would present to that city which was deeply rooted in Greek culture. Paul tells Titus that it is his responsibility to make sure that these lessons were preached.

    May God bless you

    - Clint

    [ August 21, 2003, 11:56 AM: Message edited by: Clint Kritzer ]
     
  7. Clint Kritzer

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    Sunday School lecture - 5/23/04 - Part II

    Titus 2:11-14 God's Grace the Foundation of Godliness

    His mention of God as Savior prompts Paul to expound upon the idea. He recounts the basis and reason for good behavior by the Christian, God's saving Grace. Just as we have encountered often in the Pastorals, this Passage is a bit un-Pauline in style and vocabulary and may be adapted from an early credal formula or hymn. Others have proposed that it may be a liturgical prayer used for the Lord's Supper or Baptism.

    In any case this summation of the Gospel gives us the ultimate reason for good conduct. The reason is God's free and unmerited favor upon us, Grace. This Grace appeared in the form of Jesus Christ and created deliverance for all men from sin and death.

    This Grace also has instructional value allowing us to learn how to live properly in the present and to await the Second Coming of our Lord. Concerning the proper living in the present, this is expressed in contrast to the old life of "irreligion (KJV - ungodliness)" and "worldly lusts". There is a break upon our conversion at which we start to yearn instead for "sober, upright and Godly lives."

    The theological summary of the Passage is a statement of Christ's work: He gave Himself for us (Mark 10:45). He did this for two reasons: (1) to free us from sin and (2) to prepare us to be God's people. Sin, or iniquity, is not to be thought of as guilt, but as a power, a controller of men. Hence, a ransom was to be paid for our freedom (Revelation 5:9). The concept of becoming a people of God can be traced back to Moses in Exodus 19:5-6 and echoes again in 1Peter 2:9.

    Paul adds a qualifying phrase explaining what this special relationship to God implies. It does not make us zealous for the Law or for ancestral traditions but it makes us zealous for good works.

    Titus 2:15 A Charge to Titus

    Paul interrupts his instructions at this juncture to give Timothy this charge. "These things" refers to the preceding instructions as well as what is to come. "Exhort" in this context means to urge strongly. "Rebuke" is applied to the opponents and obstinate sinners. Paul is telling Titus that he has Apostolic authority through his backing and instructions. Therefore, he is to let no one disregard him.
     
  8. Clint Kritzer

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    Sunday School lesson 1/23/05 - continued

    Luke 19:28-40 The Approach to Jerusalem and the Triumphal Entry

    It is at this juncture that the travelling ministry ends and the Jerusalem ministry begins. These will be the final experiences of Jesus prior to the Crucifixion. After addressing the false hopes of His entourage, Jesus once again leads the crowd following Him to Jerusalem. No matter which direction one approached Jerusalem from, the conception was always considered going “up” to Jerusalem. Away from Jerusalem was always “down.” We do not know the exact location of Bethpage but Bethany mentioned in verse 29 was a mere one and a half miles east of Jerusalem. According to John’s Gospel, Bethany was the home of Lazarus, Mary, and Martha. Somewhere in the vicinity of these two cities, Jesus pauses while the disciples procure for Him the colt.

    The beast for which the disciples are sent has never been ridden. This was a prerequisite for any animal used for a sacred purpose in Old Testament thought (Numbers 19:2; 1Samuel 6:7). Therefore, an animal that has never been ridden by any other person was necessary for the climactic entry into Jerusalem by the King. It is possible that Jesus made the arrangements prior to this time with an owner of the animal but the text can also be taken as supernatural knowledge of the existence and location of the colt. The disciples’ experience coincides completely with the instructions of Jesus. When asked why they were untying it, their simple response of “the Lord has need of it,” suffices.

    Every aspect of the Triumphal Entry is significant to Old Testament thought and literature. Just as David’s ministers had placed Solomon on a mule for his royal procession (1Kings 1:33), so too do the disciples place Christ on this colt. Just as the Israelites had once paved the path of the newly anointed Jehu with their garments and hailed him as king (2Kings 9:13), so too do these Israelites pave the path of Jesus as He enters. Matthew includes the line of the prophecy from Zechariah 9:9 in his parallel of this account as well showing the fulfillment of the entry of the Messiah.

    It is likely that the deliberateness of this act would be missed by no one. In making this highly symbolic ride into Jerusalem, Jesus was making His claim to Israel that He was indeed the Messiah-King. He does so in such a way, however, that denies the militaristic and nationalistic overtones that the Jews had projected upon the messiah. His humility and the mission of peace He brought are symbolized in the animal, God’s Anointed, on which He rides. Luke varies from the other Synoptic accounts at this point in saying that the party arrives at the top of the Mount of Olives which is where they catch their first glimpse of the city. This sets the stage for the Lament over Jerusalem in the next Passage. Nonetheless, it is here that the crowd began to burst forth I praise for the mighty works they had seen the past few years and the culmination of them all into this final phase. The Triumphal Entry was a confirmation of what they had believed from the miracles and teachings, that this was indeed the promised Messiah that would save Israel.

    The shout of the multitudes is a variation on Psalm 118:26, which was a song, sung by pilgrims as they entered the Temple for the Feast of Tabernacles. However, instead of singing “the kingdom of our father David” they sing The King, who comes in the name of the Lord. This softens the militaristic and revolutionary overtones of the crowds shouting. The second line of the song bears a strong resemblance to the angels’ proclamation at the birth of Christ. The “peace in Heaven” is the guarantee of peace in all the universe ushered in by the messianic age.

    It is only in Luke that we find the objection of the Pharisees. The people call Jesus “King,” the Pharisees persists in calling Him “Teacher.” The Pharisees likely viewed this demonstration of the crowd not only wrong, but downright dangerous. They likely felt that it was Jesus’ responsibility to stop this volatile demonstration of Jewish nationalistic pride. Instead, Jesus rebukes them. So appropriate is the acclamation made by the crowd that were there no human voices the stones would declare it. We may read the insinuation into the Passage that God would have turned to the stones to make the announcement before He would have turned to the Pharisees.
     
  9. Clint Kritzer

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    Esther

    Esther 2:1-4 the Beauty Contest is Decreed

    The queen’s throne could not stay empty long for both the benefit of the nation and the king. Therefore it is recommended and approved that what amounts to a beauty contest is decreed and all the prettiest virgins in the nation are brought to Susa for judging.

    Esther 2:5-11 Mordecai and Cousin Esther

    The author now introduces us to the main heroes of the story, Mordecai and Esther. Esther’s Jewish name, Hadassah, is given but we know of no other name for Mordecai. There is a strong similarity between Mordecai’s name and the Babylonian deity, Marduk. Also, Esther’s name is quite similar to Ishtar, the Babylonian fertility goddess. These similarities are of no surprise as this type of cultural assimilation was common for captive people and taking such names helped hide their identity as captive citizens. Though the text can be interpreted as Marduk being taken captive under Nebuchadnezzar, it is far more plausible to interpret the reading as being that he was descendant from a family that was taken captive. Had he been a first generation exile, he would have been around 150 years old and Esther, his cousin would have been from the same generation!

    Being orphaned, Mordecai took on the responsibility of raising Esther. She had grown to be a strikingly beautiful woman and was immediately taken to the palace to participate in the King’s beauty contest. There she caught the fancy of the harem supervisor, Hegai, who gave her a favored position.

    Esther 2:12-14 The Rules for the Contest

    These verses inform us of the rigorous preparation of the contestants. It is likely that not only beauty enhancements were made but also proper behavior was taught these young girls. After a full year of preparation, one girl would leave the house of maidens and go to the king. She would be given noble gifts and whatever she thought may impress the king. She would stay the night with the king and in the morning be taken to house of the king’s concubines, possibly to never be called back.

    One may wonder why they were not just released to re-enter the population and marry elsewhere and continue their lives. It appears from the story of Adonijah and the Shunamite girl in 1Kings 1-2 that it was thought that some quality of royalty was transferred from the king to the king’s lady friends making her a claim of the kingdom. The word harem in both Hebrew and Arabic means enclosure. Losing this particular beauty contest meant more than a loss of vanity.

    Esther 2:15-18 Esther’s Coronation

    Verse 15 indicates that many had gone to the king before Esther. Three years had passed since Vashti’s deposition and with one year of training taken into account, this would represent a competition between hundreds of girls.

    Just as she had won the favor of all others before, Esther won the favor of the king as well and he became quite smitten with her.

    Esther 2:19-23 Mordecai Saves the King

    The phrasing in verse 19 that the virgins were assembled a second time is puzzling. It may mean that a second group of girls had been assembled just before Esther was chosen. This would show just how fierce the competition was.

    We are reminded that Esther and Mordecai had kept there identity secret. Mordecai was liekly a gatekeeper, a government job, as we are told many times in the story that he is at the gate. This was a very high and trusted position.

    While on watch he overhears a plot of an assassination attempt that will be made on the king. Mordecai, through either favor or bribery, gets a message to Esther about the plot and she in turn uses her position to inform the king. The assumed plot is investigated and found to be true and the would-be assassins are hung. We are told that this was recorded in the book of the chronicles, a statement quite important for further use in the story.
     
  10. Clint Kritzer

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