Day 166 – 1 Ezra 8:1–69; Psalm 135:1–15; Proverbs 29:7–12; Acts 1

1 Ezra 8:1–69

1 Now Ezra was born after these events, when King Artaxerxes of the Persians was reigning. Ezra was the son of Seraiah, the son of Azariah, the son of Hilkiah, the son of Shallum, 2 the son of Zadok, the son of Ahitub, the son of Amariah, the son of Uzzi, the son of Bukki, the son of Abishua, the son of Phineas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the high priest. 3 This Ezra came up out of Babylon as a scribe well-versed in the Law of Moses given by the God of Israel. 4 The king gave him honor, for he found favor before him in all his petitions.
5 Some of the children of Israel, and some of the priests, Levites, temple singers, doorkeepers and temple servants also came up with him to Jerusalem. This took place in the seventh year of Artaxerxes’ reign, in the fifth month (this was his seventh year as king). 6 For they departed from Babylon on the new moon of the first month and entered Jerusalem on the new moon of the fifth month, according to the prosperous journey given them by the Lord. 7 For Ezra had such great skill that he left out nothing from the law and commandments of the Lord. He taught all Israel the complete ordinances and judgments.
Artaxerxes’ Letter to Ezra
8 A written ordinance from King Artaxerxes came to Ezra the priest and reader of the law of the Lord. A copy of it is as follows:
9 “King Artaxerxes, to Ezra the priest and reader of the law of the Lord: Greetings. 10 I have decided to be benevolent and to order that any among the Jews, the priests and Levites, and those in our kingdom who wish and choose to do so may sojourn with you to Jerusalem.
  11 “As many therefore as have so determined, let them go out together with you (as this has seemed good to me and the seven friends who are my advisors) 12 so they may take care of matters concerning Judea and Jerusalem, as recorded in the law of the Lord, 13 and also carry gifts to the Lord of Israel which I and my friends have vowed for Jerusalem. If any gold and silver is found in the country of Babylon for the Lord in Jerusalem, let this also be collected, along with any gifts from the nation for the temple of their Lord in Jerusalem, 14 both of gold and silver for bulls, rams, and lambs, and whatever is needed with them, 15 to offer sacrifices upon the altar of their Lord in Jerusalem.
16 “Whatever you and your brethren decide to do with the silver and gold, do it according to the will of your God, 17 as well as with the holy vessels of the Lord given to you for the needs of the temple of your God in Jerusalem. 18 Whatever else remains that you may happen to need for the temple of your God, it will be given you from the king’s treasury.
19 “I, King Artaxerxes, have ordered the treasurers of Syria and Phoenicia that whatever Ezra the priest and reader of the law of the Almighty God requests, they are to be diligent to give him, up to the sum of one hundred talents of silver, 20 and likewise, up to one hundred measures of wheat, one hundred measures of wine, and an abundance of salt. 21 Let all these things be performed carefully according to the law of God for the Most High God, that His anger may not descend on the kingdom of the king or his sons. 22 I also say to you that no tribute or penalty is to be imposed upon any priests, Levites, temple singers, doorkeepers, temple servants, or anyone having duties in this temple. Nor does anyone have the authority to levy any taxes upon them.
23 “As for you, Ezra, appoint judges and justices in all Syria and Phoenicia according to the wisdom of God, that they may judge everyone who knows the law of your God; but you shall instruct those who do not know it. 24 For whoever transgresses the law of your God and the royal law will be severely punished, either by death or another punishment, or by a monetary penalty or imprisonment.”
Return of the Leaders
25 So Ezra the scribe said, “Blessed is the only Lord God, who put these things into the king’s heart to glorify His house in Jerusalem, 26 and who gave me honor before the king and before his advisors, friends, and nobles. 27 I was very encouraged by the help of my Lord and God and brought together men of Israel to journey with me.”
28 Here are the officers according to their paternal families and the governors who came up with me from Babylon during the reign of King Artaxerxes: 29 Of the sons of Phineas, Gershom; of the sons of Ithamar, Gamael; of the sons of David, Hattush the son of Sechenias; 30 of the sons of Parosh, Zechariah, and with him one hundred fifty men from the register; 31 of the sons of Pahath-Moab, Eliehoenai the son of Zerahiah, and with him two hundred men; 32 of the sons of Zattu, Secheniah the son of Jahaziel, and with him three hundred men; of the sons of Adin, Obed the son of Jonathan, and with him two hundred fifty men; 33 of the sons of Elam, Josiah son of Gotholiah, and with him seventy men; 34 of the sons of Shephatiah, Zeraiah the son of Michael, and with him seventy men; 35 of the sons of Joab, Obadiah son of Jehiel, and with him two hundred twelve men; 36 of the sons of Bani, Shelomith the son of Josiphiah, and with him one hundred sixty men; 37 of the sons of Bebai, Zechariah the son of Bebai, and with him twenty-eight men; 38 of the sons of Azag, Johanan the son of Hakkatan, and with him one hundred ten men; 39 of the sons of Adonikam, the last ones, and these are their names: Eliphalat, Jeuel, and Shemaiah, and with them seventy men; 40 of the sons of Bigvai, Uthai the son of Istalcurus, and with him seventy men.
41 I gathered them together at the river called Theras. We camped there for three days, and I carefully observed them. 42 When I did not find among them any sons of priests or Levites, 43 I sent word to Eleazar, Iduel, Maasmas, Jarib, Nathan, Elnathan, Zechariah, and Meshullam, who were officers and men of understanding. 44 I directed them to go to Iddo, who was the leader over the place of the treasury, 45 and commanded them to reason with Iddo and his brothers and those at the place of the treasury to send us those who would serve as priests in the house of our Lord. 46 By the mighty hand of our Lord, they brought us skilled men of the sons of Mahli, the son of Levi, the son of Israel, that is, Sherebiah and his eighteen sons and brothers; 47 and also Asebiah and Annunus, and Hosaiah his brother, of the sons of Chanounaius, and their sons, twenty men; 48 and of the servants of the temple whom David and the officers appointed for the work of the Levites, two hundred twenty temple servants. The list of all their names was made known.
  49 There I declared a fast before our Lord for the young men, 50 to seek from Him a safe journey for us and for those coming with us, for our children and cattle. 51 I was ashamed to ask the king for infantry, cavalry, and an escort for safety against our enemies. 52 For we said to the king, “The strength of our Lord shall be with those who seek Him for any correction.” 53 Again we implored our Lord about all this, and we obtained His mercy.
54 Then I separated twelve men, Serebiah and Asabiah, chief leaders among the priests, and also ten men from among their brothers with them. 55 I weighed out to them silver and gold, and the sacred vessels from the house of our Lord, which the king himself, his advisors, the nobles, and all Israel had given us. 56 After weighing it, I delivered to them six hundred fifty talents of silver, silver vessels worth one hundred talents, one hundred talents of gold, twenty bowls of wrought gold, and twelve vessels made of fine bronze that glistened like gold. 57 I said to them, “You are set apart to the Lord, as are the sacred vessels and the silver and gold. They are a vow to the Lord, to the Lord of our fathers. 58 Be alert and keep guard until you hand them over to the chief leaders among the priests and Levites, and to the heads of the paternal families of Israel in Jerusalem, to be put in the chambers of the house of our Lord.” 59 Then the priests and Levites took the silver, the gold, and the vessels that had been in Jerusalem and carried them into the house of the Lord.
60 We broke camp at the river Theras on the twelfth day of the first month and came to Jerusalem, the mighty hand of our Lord with us. He delivered us on the way from every enemy, and we entered Jerusalem. 61 After we had been there three days, the gold and silver were weighed and brought to the house of our Lord to Marmuth the priest, son of Uriah. 62 Eleazar the son of Phineas was with him, as well as the Levites, Josabad the son of Joshua and Moeth the son of Sabannus. They counted the number and weight of everything, which was recorded at that very moment.
63 Those who arrived from the captivity offered sacrifices to the Lord, the God of Israel: twelve bulls for all Israel, ninety-six rams, seventy-two lambs, and twelve male goats as a thank offering—all as a sacrifice to the Lord. 64 Then they presented the king’s ordinances to the royal stewards and governors of Coelesyria and Phoenicia, and they honored the people and the temple of the Lord.
65 After this was done, the leaders came to me and said, 66 “The people of Israel, the priests, and the Levites have not separated from the foreign peoples of the land and from their uncleanness: the Caananites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Jebusites, the Moabites, the Egyptians, and the Edomites. 67 For they and their sons have married their daughters, and the holy seed has been mingled with the foreign peoples of the land; and from the beginning of this situation the leaders and the nobles have participated in this sin.”
68 The moment I heard this, I tore my garments and my sacred apparel, pulled out hair from my head and beard, and sat down deep in turmoil and great sadness. 69 Then as many as ever were moved by the word of the Lord of Israel, these gathered around me as I mourned over this lawlessness and sat in deep distress until the evening sacrifice.

Psalm 135:1–15

1 Alleluia.

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good,

For His mercy endures forever;

2 Give thanks to the God of gods,

For His mercy endures forever;

3 Give thanks to the Lord of lords,

For His mercy endures forever;

4 To Him who alone does great wonders,

For His mercy endures forever;

5 To Him who made the heavens with understanding,

For His mercy endures forever;

6 To Him who made firm the earth on the waters,

For His mercy endures forever;

7 To Him who alone made the great lights,

For His mercy endures forever,

8 The sun for authority over the day,

For His mercy endures forever,

9 The moon and stars for authority over the night,

For His mercy endures forever;

10 To Him who struck down Egypt with their firstborn,

For His mercy endures forever;

11 To Him who led Israel out of their midst,

For His mercy endures forever,

12 With a strong hand and an upraised arm,

For His mercy endures forever;

13 To Him who divided the Red Sea into parts,

For His mercy endures forever,

14 And led Israel through the midst of it,

For His mercy endures forever,

15 And who overthrew Pharaoh and all his host in the Red Sea,

For His mercy endures forever;

Proverbs 29:7–12

7 A righteous man understands how to judge on behalf of the poor,

But the ungodly man will not consider such knowledge;

For he has no understanding heart for a poor man.

8 Pestilent men burn down a city,

But wise men turn away wrath.

9 A wise man judges people fairly,

But when a worthless man is angry, he laughs at them, and does not fear.

10 Bloodthirsty men will hate a holy man,

But the upright will seek his soul.

11 A man without discernment brings forth his whole mind,

But a wise man distributes his in part.

12 When a king obeys an unrighteous word,

All those under him are lawless.

Acts 1

1 The former account I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach,
2 until the day in which He was taken up, after He through the Holy Spirit had given commandments to the apostles whom He had chosen,
3 to whom He also presented Himself alive after His suffering by many infallible proofs, being seen by them during forty days and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God.
  The Holy Spirit Promised
4 And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, “which,” He said, “you have heard from Me;
5 “for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”
6 Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?”
7 And He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority.
8 “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
Jesus Ascends to Heaven
(Mark 16:19, 20; Luke 24:50–53)
9 Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight.
10 And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel,
11 who also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.”
The Upper Room Prayer Meeting
12 Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day’s journey.
13 And when they had entered, they went up into the upper room where they were staying: Peter, James, John, and Andrew; Philip and Thomas; Bartholomew and Matthew; James the son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot; and Judas the son of James.
14 These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers.
Matthias Chosen
(cf. Ps. 108:8)
15 And in those days Peter stood up in the midst of the disciples (altogether the number of names was about a hundred and twenty), and said,
16 “Men and brethren, this Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit spoke before by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus;
17 “for he was numbered with us and obtained a part in this ministry.”
18 (Now this man purchased a field with the wages of iniquity; and falling headlong, he burst open in the middle and all his entrails gushed out.
19 And it became known to all those dwelling in Jerusalem; so that field is called in their own language, Akel Dama, that is, Field of Blood.)
20 “For it is written in the Book of Psalms:
‘Let his dwelling place be desolate,
And let no one live in it’;
‘Let another take his office.’
21 “Therefore, of these men who have accompanied us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us,
  22 “beginning from the baptism of John to that day when He was taken up from us, one of these must become a witness with us of His resurrection.”
23 And they proposed two: Joseph called Barsabas, who was surnamed Justus, and Matthias.
24 And they prayed and said, “You, O Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which of these two You have chosen
25 “to take part in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place.”
26 And they cast their lots, and the lot fell on Matthias. And he was numbered with the eleven apostles.

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