Friday, June 24, 2016

A Different Look at the Book of Esther

We don’t know who wrote the book of Esther, but it is generally thought to be written by Mordecai, Esther’s cousin, who plays a major role in the story.
Esther becomes queen and saves the Jews from extermination. Though the name of God does not occur even once in this book, His providence is evident as well as His protection of His people. Esther is spelled in Hebrew with the same letters as “I will be hid”. Isn’t that cool? It seems like God loves anagrams, codes and puzzles. Me, too. God is hidden in the book of Esther.
The events of Esther fit chronologically between chapters 6 and 7 of Ezra and tell us that anti-Jewish hostility is intolerable to God. First there is the story of queen Vashti. Esther 1: 10-12, and 19 give the highlights:
 10 On the seventh day, when King Xerxes was in high spirits from wine, he commanded the seven eunuchs who served him—Mehuman, Biztha, Harbona, Bigtha, Abagtha, Zethar and Karkas— 11 to bring before him Queen Vashti, wearing her royal crown, in order to display her beauty to the people and nobles, for she was lovely to look at. 12 But when the attendants delivered the king’s command, Queen Vashti refused to come. Then the king became furious and burned with anger.
19 “Therefore, if it pleases the king, let him issue a royal decree and let it be written in the laws of Persia and Media, which cannot be repealed, that Vashti is never again to enter the presence of King Xerxes. Also let the king give her royal position to someone else who is better than she.
Look again at verse 11. The implication is that she was summoned to appear wearing nothing but the crown! Yes, sir, naked. No wonder she refused to come.

Monday, June 20, 2016

99 Cent Specials - 4 Books

Big News!

First: As a special thank-you to my loyal subscribers and blog readers I have 50 coupons for free audio books. Just let me know if you want one (first 50 responders) and I’ll send you the codes for Audible.

Second: From now until the Fourth of July, 2016, my most recent books will be marked down to $0.99 on Kindle. Go ahead and share this news with your friends and family. It’s a limited time offer. 
Here they are:

A Soul’s Kiss
Out of Exodia
The Girl in the Time Machine

That’s all for now. Have a great Fourth of July!

Friday, June 17, 2016

Do YOU Know What's in the Book of Nehemiah?

The 16th book of the Bible is Nehemiah, so named because the main character is Nehemiah (his name means “Jehovah comforts”). Fourteen years after Ezra came back to Jerusalem with a group of the returning exiles, Nehemiah brought another bunch back and restored the walls and the civil authority. Originally, the books of Ezra and Nehemiah were in one volume. Scholars are divided on the authorship, some say Ezra, some say Nehemiah, some say both. The majority believe Nehemiah was the author.

Read Chapter 1 and notice that it ends with Nehemiah stating that he was cupbearer to the king. This says a lot. He had a position of great trust. He would taste the king’s drink to guard against poisoning. Since anyone could be coerced by having his family threatened, the cupbearer was usually a eunuch.

Friday, June 10, 2016

What's in the Book of Ezra? Part 2

Continuing with the book of Ezra … last week we looked at the first three chapters and got to the part where the foundation of the house of the Lord was laid but there was a setback: opposition. In chapter 4 the enemies of Judah and Benjamin step in. Read 4: 1-5:

 1 When the enemies of Judah and Benjamin heard that the exiles were building a temple for the LORD, the God of Israel, 2 they came to Zerubbabel and to the heads of the families and said, “Let us help you build because, like you, we seek your God and have been sacrificing to him since the time of Esarhaddon king of Assyria, who brought us here.”
 3 But Zerubbabel, Joshua and the rest of the heads of the families of Israel answered, “You have no part with us in building a temple to our God. We alone will build it for the LORD, the God of Israel, as King Cyrus, the king of Persia, commanded us.”
 4 Then the peoples around them set out to discourage the people of Judah and make them afraid to go on building. 5 They bribed officials to work against them and frustrate their plans during the entire reign of Cyrus king of Persia and down to the reign of Darius king of Persia.

Friday, June 3, 2016

What's in the Book of Ezra? Part 1

The fifteenth book of the Old Testament is Ezra and was written by the prophet Ezra, recording the return to Palestine under Zerubbabel of a Jewish remnant that laid the temple foundations (536 BC).

The Scriptures record the return of three groups of exiles to Jerusalem from Babylon. The first group came in 536 BC, the second in 457 BC under Ezra and the third in 444 BC under Nehemiah. The book of Ezra tells of the first two groups. At the time of the writing, for historical perspective, Confucius and Buddha were alive and within a century Sophocles and Socrates would be alive. 

A quick look at chapter 1 tells us some interesting things: first,