Then the word of God spread, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem. Acts 6:7
We will witness the church growing exponentially through the power of the Holy Spirit witnessing the resurrection of the Lord Jesus and the great grace upon the church. Forgiveness turns into giving away homes, with the entire proceeds being laid down at the apostles’ feet. No mixture, for Ananias and his wife Sapphira, die trying to appear as giving all when they had in fact kept back a portion for themselves. In John’s Epistles, we are called to walk in the light and love of Christ and not enter the darkness of deception, that by then was running throughout the earth. Truth is important.
We finish 2 Chronicles and the temple preparations. Now we will enter the final history books of the returning of the remnant to Jerusalem to build the temple again. Chronicles through Nehemiah were once one long book to give back to the exiles their history, faith, law, worship, and national indemnity.
Acts 5 – 11
Lying to the Holy Spirit at such a point of pure worship and giving costs Ananias and Sapphira their lives. The church is witnessing miracles of such proportions that just the proximately of Peter’s shadow heals. Not a shadow of the sun against his body, but the same overshadowing that happened to Mary that brought forth Jesus, and the same overshadowing of the bright cloud on the Mount of Transfiguration.
The church grows, and deacons are chosen to help with the distribution of food for the widows. Stephen addresses the Sanhedrin and becomes the first martyr. Paul begins to wreak havoc in the church, causing many to be scattered, but they go preaching the word. The church is growing outward and soon Paul meets Jesus on the road to Damascus. In Chapters ten and eleven, Gentiles are brought into the faith through the Holy Spirit’s witness and demonstration, as Peter is called to Corneilius’s (a Roman Centurion) house. Barnabas finds Paul and brings him to Antioch where a new Gentile church has begun, and they teach the new converts.
1 John 1 – 5
John has such a heart calling to our walking with Jesus in the light, in His life, and in His love. When we read 1st John, we are reading a father’s call to his children to walk in truth. From Chapter one, and not fooling ourselves in thinking that we are in the light when we sin, or that we are in the light when we do not love, and when we love the world the love of the Father is in us. Nope.
John’s call for us to walk in love in Chapters three and four is riveting and impossible unless; “And we have known and believe the love the love that God has for us.” 1 John 4:16 Chapter five is such deep theology by the simple demand to receive the witness of God and the testimony He has given of His Son. “And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.” 1 John 5:11
John is writing to affirm his love to the elect lady and her children. He is rejoicing to find some of her children walking in truth in the commandment of love. “Look to yourselves, that we do not lose those things we worked for, but that we may receive a full reward.” 2 John 1:8
John writes to Gaius, praying for prosperity and health as his soul prospers. Again “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.” 3 John 1:4 There is the call to support those who go out, and sad rebuke of preeminence that Diotrephes walks in his self-seeking and control of God’s church.
Jude is like the Malachi of the New Testament. Being the Lord’s brother, like James, his words are to address the error that has crept in through ungodly men, “who turn the grace of God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ.” Jude 1:4 Like 2 Peter 3, Jude reminds us that all this has happened before in Cain, Balaam, and Korah. Jude lists the attributes and the outcome of such but returns to the promise of faith and love being kept by the Holy Spirit and our expectancy of the mercy of our Lord Jesus.
2 Chronicles 30 – 36
Wow! Judah is on a fast slide away from God but has two national revivals during the last one hundred and forty years before total exile from their land. Hezekiah brings the temple into repair and the nation keeps Passover a powerful story of hearts returning to the Lord. He is then besieged by Sennacherib king of Assyria but together with Isaiah the prophet and his heart seeking the Lord, Sennacherib is sent home in shame to his death as one angel slaughters his army overnight. Hezekiah becomes ill and near death but entreats the Lord for mercy. He is healed and given fifteen years more to live. But he falls from grace and his heart is lifted with pride. His son Manasseh becomes king after him and is the most wicked of all the kings of Judah. From this king, God set judgment against Judah and declares they will be exiled.
The other good king is Josiah, the grandson of Manasseh. He too seeks the Lord and does what is right in the sight of the Lord. He discovers the book of the law, softens his heart in repentance and the Lord extends the stay of Judah. Joash also keeps a Passover like none other since the days of Samuel. After Josiah’s death, Judah is a caretaker government first ruled by Egypt then Babylon. Zedekiah the last king of Judah rebels against King Nebuchadnezzar and his covenant to serve him. That is the end.
Judah’s epilogue is recorded in Chapter thirty-six, verses fifteen to twenty-one. The last two verses (22, 23) share the prophecy of Jeremiah fulfilled in seventy years of exile through Cyrus, king of Persia, whom Isaiah had prophesied would reign before he was even born (Isaiah 45).
Oh, the majesty and sovereignty of our God!
Ezra 1 – 2
Ezra begins seventy years after the exile of Judah with the same explanation as 2 Chronicles ended with. Cyrus comes to power; most likely Daniel shows him the prophecy maybe his name. We do not know. But Cyrus makes a decree for all willing Jews in his kingdom to return and build the house of the Lord God of Israel in Jerusalem. Chapter two is the listing of those willing to make the journey whom Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon had carried away to Jerusalem.