Welcome to BibleBum where we are exploring the entire Bible in one year to better learn how to follow God’s instructions and discover the purpose for our lives. The BibleBum blog uses The One Year Chronological Bible, the New Living Translation version. At the end of each day’s reading, Rob, a cultural history aficionado and seminary graduate, answers questions from Leigh An, the blogger host, about the daily scripture. To start from the beginning, click on “Index” and select Day 1.
Ezra 5:2 / 520 BC
Questions & Observations
Q. (Haggai 2:1-9): Just to clarify, the Temple has not been rebuilt since the exiles returned, right? We have just heard of the new Temple’s gloriousness through God’s visions to his messengers?
A. They have worked on it some, but no, it is not yet complete.
Q. Can you just tell us, in a nutshell, what the Temple means to God and why rebuilding it should be important to the Israelites?
A. It is the center of their place of worship, and the place where Israel can once again be in the very presence of God. I would say that is pretty important.
Q. (2:19): Why would God decide to bless them because it doesn’t appear that they are looking toward God? (I am confused about whether the message about disobedience is being addressed to the returning exiles or their ancestors.)
A. Generally, I would say that the message was “to” the dead exiles, but it is serving as a warning to the present generation.
Q. (2:20-23): Why is God going to “shake the heavens and earth”? Just all the sinning in these other nations?
A. It is a message of judgment against the nations, yes. With many of these powerful nations at war with each other (Persia, Greece, etc.), it was a very unstable time, where the size of the armies could make the very ground shake. That might be what God has in mind.
Q. (Zechariah 1:8): Is there any significance to the colors of the horses? Any idea what the duties are of the Angel of the Lord? We have learned that the Angel speaks for God. Could the Angel of the Lord be any angel or a specific one?
A. The colors (red, brown, and white) would be best understood as war (bloodshed), partial peace (conflict), and peace (white). It appears for this passage that the Angel is given the task of “gathering” information for God: why that would be necessary for God is unknown to me. We do not know which Angel is mentioned, so we cannot tell if it is Michael or another angel we have encountered before.
Q. (1:18-2:6): There are four horns, four blacksmiths and four winds. Significance?
A. The four horns (they are probably metal or artificial horns) are probably Assyria, Babylon, Egypt, and Persia: symbolic of the nations that subdued Israel over the last several centuries. Since there are four of them, they are dealt with by four different smiths, who might be angels of judgment, as we will see in Revelation.
Q. (3:8-9): Who is the Branch? Why seven facets to the stone?
A. It is a term of the Messiah. The facets (symbolic of eyes) seem to represent the eyes of the infinite (7 being the number for God’s completeness). We will see this image of seven eyes used again in Revelation, since Zechariah is an influential book on John the writer.
Q. (5:4): What does it mean to swear falsely?
A. To lie, usually under oath or after swearing that you are telling the truth in God’s name.
Q. (5:5-11): What does this story mean? Is Babylonia the same as Babylon?
A. It is a summary of the process of the “purging” of the idolatry — personified as a woman named Wickedness — from the land of Israel. The “woman” was taken from the good land to a land of idolatry (Babylonia — the region rather than the nation of Babylon), and things would not be made right back in Israel until this curse had been purged.