Saturday, September 28, 2013

Daily Old Testament: Ezra 6 and My Own Article on "Friends and Scripture" (Part 5)

Ezra 6 – The records are searched and the proclamation is found wherein Cyrus told the Jews to go back and rebuild their temple. Tattenai and the others are instructed to leave the alone, and in fact to assist them by paying the costs of the rebuilding “in full and without delay, from the royal revenue” (6:8).

If “anyone alters this edict, a beam shall be pulled out of the house of the perpetrator, who then shall be impaled on it. The house shall be made a dunghill” (6:11). It is done as the Emperor directed. The temple is finished on the third day of the month of Adar in the 6th year of Darius’ reign (516? Jerusalem Bible note says April 1, 515). The people, priests and Levites celebrate the dedication; they offer a hundred bulls, 200 rams, 400 lambs and 12 male goats as a sin offering (according to the number of tribes). 

The priests and Levites are organized again, and Passover is celebrated. “With joy they celebrated the festival of unleavened bread seven days; for the Lord had made them joyful, and had turned the heart of the king of Assyria to them, so that he aided them in the work on the house of God, the God of Israel” (6:22). It is this Temple that will be remodeled by Herod the Great. It is in use for 585 years and is finally destroyed by Titus in 70 AD.

“Friends and Scripture”
Introduction: This article is one I wrote some years ago and it was eventually part of the book I wrote called Leadings: A Catholic’s Journey Through Quakerism. My plan here is just to include a few paragraphs of the chapter each day.
Part 5
As we did what Abraham did, we too would find the redemptive part of their story unfolding within us—not in every outward detail but in substantially the same way.  So you will find early Friends seeing themselves as “spiritual Jews” being rescued from bondage and led to freedom.

. . .in his infinite love and tender pity and compassion [He looked] down upon us, whilst in the land of Egypt, and house of bondage spiritually, and [did] send forth his light and truth, to give us a sense inwardly of the deplorable states of our souls in the separation from, and depravation of the enjoyments of the Lord, which sense and sight begat in us living breathings and a holy cry after the knowledge of him we saw ourselves ignorant of . . . (Charles Marshall, Early Quaker Writings, 32)

You will find Friends seeing themselves as dead spiritually being brought out of graves like Lazarus or Christ himself.

“Wait to see the law set up within . . .and the rebellious nature yoked [earthquakes and thunder].  Wait in patience for the judgment, and let the Lord’s work have its perfect operation in you; and so as you turn to him who has smitten and wounded you; he will bind up and heal.  And give up all to the great slaughter of the Lord, to the Cross. . .And as the earth comes to be plowed up, the seed which is sown comes up; and, the rocks broken, the water gushes out.  You so will see that some promises will arise in you to the Seed which is coming up out of the grave, and so the love of God will appear in you, and you will be stayed, and see hope in the midst of calamity . . .And as you come to be redeemed from under the bondage of sin, and come above the bonds of death, and the pure principle lives in you, there will be a delight in you to do the will of the father, who has redeemed you from sin and its law to righteousness and its law. (Francis Howgill, Early Quaker Writings, 177)

This was what they meant when they said you had to enter into the Spirit that gave the scriptures forth—to “see” the same work being carried forth in your own life.

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