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Showing Revision 26 created 09/27/2019 by Colin Preston.

  1. ♪ theme music ♪
  2. (Derek) Welcome to Hope Sabbath School,
  3. an in-depth, interactive study
  4. of the Word of God.
  5. I'm excited because we are beginning
  6. a brand new series of studies
  7. on Ezra and Nehemiah.
  8. You say, "Derek, what would the writings
  9. of a priest 2,400 years ago
  10. and a contemporary government official
    in Persia
  11. have to do with our lives today?"
  12. Well, that's what's exciting
  13. about studying the Word of God
  14. because the Bible says
  15. all Scripture is given
  16. by inspiration of God and is profitable,
  17. so we're going to pray
  18. that God would bless in amazing ways.
  19. Today, Making Sense of History:
  20. (as we look at) Zerubbabel and Ezra.
  21. And I'm glad you joined us
  22. for Hope Sabbath School.
  23. And, team, this is going to be
  24. an amazing journey.
  25. (Team) Yes.
  26. (Derek) And we're going to be excited
  27. to see how ancient Scripture
    comes alive for us today.
  28. We're glad that you're part
  29. of our Hope Sabbath School team.
  30. We're always delighted to hear from you.
  31. Oh, I needed to tell you one other thing.
  32. We have an awesome app.
  33. Here's my phone; I'm going
  34. to go to Hope Sabbath School
  35. on the new Hope Channel app here.
  36. It's an awesome app,
  37. and it's loading right now.
  38. People around the world are using
  39. this app; it's free: Hope Channel.
  40. You can go to your App Store
  41. or Google Play, download the app.
  42. Whether you're 10 years old
  43. or 100 years old, you can download
    the app and use it.
  44. If you need some help,
  45. talk to your grandchildren, right?
  46. They'll figure it out.
  47. But the Hope Channel app is awesome,
  48. and it's being used
  49. in many, many countries around the world
  50. including Madagascar, which is where
  51. our first email comes from, from Loubien.
  52. Loubien is 22 years old.
  53. In fact, he sent a picture for us.
  54. He's a university student,
  55. and he says, "Two years ago we started
  56. an English-speaking church in our town,
  57. and now I'm part of that church.
  58. It's the only Adventist church
  59. where English is the primary language
  60. in the South of Madagascar,
  61. and I often teach the Sabbath School,"
  62. and guess what he uses as a resource?
  63. (Team) Hope Sabbath School.
  64. (Derek) He uses the Hope Sabbath School
    resource.
  65. "I'm very happy to follow this program.
  66. May God bless us all."
  67. Well, Loubien, thanks for writing
  68. to us from Madagascar.
  69. We're excited that you're part of our...
  70. not only a participant in the study,
  71. but a leader in teaching
  72. an in-depth, interactive study
  73. of the Word of God.
  74. Owen and Merline write from Florida
  75. in the United States.
  76. Anybody from Florida here?
  77. Anybody been to Florida?
  78. Stephanie, you've been...Oh, quite a few
  79. have been to Florida.
  80. "Dear Hope Sabbath School,
  81. we absolutely love the program.
  82. We look forward to watching it
  83. every Friday Evening.
  84. The deep, interactive, inspiring way
  85. the lessons are presented is just amazing.
  86. Another thing," listen carefully,
  87. "we're sure the listening world
  88. appreciates, as we do,
  89. the openness and honesty
  90. of the class members' testimonies.
  91. The testimonies make known that God
  92. loves us with an everlasting love."
  93. (Team) Amen.
  94. (Derek) That's awesome, isn't it?
  95. "And we can trust Him no matter what.
  96. We thank God for Hope Sabbath School
  97. and pray that God will bless
    the entire team."
  98. Owen and Merline, thanks for writing.
  99. And, you know, that's our prayer.
  100. None of that is scripted, is it?
  101. The Holy Spirit may impress
  102. Travis, Joshua, Liza to share a testimony,
  103. and if we did it a second time,
  104. it might be different.
  105. But the Spirit of God is leading us.
  106. Thank you for affirming that,
  107. and we also love to hear from you
  108. about your testimony of what God is doing.
  109. Write to us at sshope@hopetv.org.
  110. Here's one from Guadeloupe
  111. in the French West Indies.
  112. Did I say that right?
    Thank you, Gladys.
  113. "Bonjour," bonjour, "a few weeks ago
  114. I discovered Hope Sabbath School."
  115. You notice people are
    always finding it, right,
  116. new viewers all the time.
  117. "Since then, I've been watching it.
  118. I'm French; I'm sorry
  119. that my English isn't that good.
  120. I live in Guadeloupe
  121. in the French West Indies.
  122. I am a Seventh-day Adventist
    church member.
  123. Since I have been watching
  124. Hope Sabbath School,
  125. I appreciate the subtitles,"
  126. closed captioning, "in English
  127. because it helps me to understand more;
  128. I can understand better
    than just speaking.
  129. Well, thank you for what you're doing
  130. with Hope Sabbath School,
  131. and God bless you all, Paul,"
    writes to us.
  132. Paul, thanks for writing from Guadeloupe,
  133. and may God use you
  134. to be a powerful teacher
  135. of the Word of God.
  136. Here's a note from a donor
  137. in Minnesota in the United States.
  138. Oh, wait! Laurel, are you from Minnesota?
  139. (Laurel) I am.
  140. (Derek) I'm not going to give the name,
  141. but would you like to wave
  142. to the entire state of Minnesota.
  143. "I have access only to Sabbath School."
  144. I think this person is unable
  145. to get out to go to church,
  146. "but what a blessing it is!
  147. May God continue to bless each one
  148. and Hope Sabbath School
  149. in the finishing of His work."
  150. And this donor sends 100 dollars
  151. to help Hope Sabbath School.
  152. (Team) Amen!
  153. (Derek) We just want to say thank you.
  154. This is a donor-supported ministry,
    but it's more than that.
  155. It's a partnership in mission, isn't it?
  156. And so, thank you, Minnesota,
  157. for being part of that.
  158. Well, from the beautiful island
  159. of Saint Vincent in the Caribbean,
  160. someone born in Jamaica, living...
  161. Joshua, you weren't born
  162. in Jamaica, were you?
  163. (Joshua) No.
  164. (Derek) But don't you have
    some Jamaican heritage?
  165. (Joshua) No, Antiguan.
  166. (Derek) Oh, you're Antiguan; that's also
    the Caribbean area.
  167. (Joshua) Yes, the Caribbean.
  168. (Derek) Same part of the world, okay.
  169. This is Saint Vincent,
  170. not too far away, right?
  171. "Greetings, saints of God."
  172. (Team) Greetings!
  173. (Derek) This is Denise, by the way,
  174. "Writing from Saint Vincent,
    born in Jamaica,
  175. I really enjoy the study every week,
  176. and I especially look forward
  177. to singing the songs."
  178. Well, we're going to sing
  179. a song in just a moment.
  180. "It's a blessing to look
  181. forward to and see Brother Jason
  182. singing the Scripture songs."
  183. Well, Jason, would you like
  184. to wave to Denise in Saint Vincent?
  185. "He's so passionate about the Word of God.
  186. Let's all be faithful and continue
  187. to share God's Word through the world.
  188. God bless you all." Amen?
  189. (Team) Amen.
  190. (Derek) Denise, thanks
  191. for writing to us from Saint Vincent.
  192. And I'm excited today because we've got
  193. a new Scripture song we're going to sing.
  194. And I've asked my wife Bodil,
  195. who is not only executive producer
  196. but likes to help compose
    the Scripture songs,
  197. to help sing, so come over, Bodil.
  198. Let's sing together, "To You, O Lord,
  199. I lift up my soul.
  200. O My God, I trust in You."
  201. Let's sing it together.
  202. ♪ music ♪
  203. (Derek) Amen?
  204. (Team) Amen!
  205. (Derek) Thank you, Bodil.
  206. I think we'll have you come
  207. and sing all the time.
  208. It's great to hide God's Word
  209. in our hearts, isn't it?
  210. And some of you know that my wife
  211. started composing Scripture songs...
  212. The words are straight
  213. out of the Bible, right?
  214. But she started...That was
  215. from Psalm 25, by the way.
  216. The words are straight out of the Bible,
  217. but she said, "I want to hide God's Word
  218. in my heart and the hearts
    of our children."
  219. She had no idea that it
  220. would not only transform
    her husband's life,
  221. but our Hope Sabbath School family
  222. around the world. Amen?
  223. (Team) Amen.
  224. (Derek) That's what we're going to learn
  225. from Ezra and Nehemiah.
  226. When we say, "God, I'm available, to You,"
  227. He's going to do something amazing.
  228. (Team) Amen.
  229. (Derek) And we want to pray for you
  230. and each one of us as we study
  231. because the miracle that happened
    2400 years ago
  232. can happen in our lives today.
  233. Let's pray; Father in Heaven,
  234. just like the psalmist would say,
  235. "To You, O Lord, I lift up my soul.
  236. Let not my enemies triumph over me,"
  237. we thank You that in the sacred books
  238. of Ezra and Nehemiah,
  239. we will learn of a great and awesome God
  240. and of men and women
  241. who have the courage to listen
  242. to God and follow Him.
  243. And I pray that You would bless
    as we study,
  244. Hope Sabbath School members
    around the world,
  245. may each life and each family
    be blessed today.
  246. In the name of Jesus we pray. Amen.
  247. (Team) Amen.
  248. (Derek) Well, let's make sense of history.
  249. This is lesson number one.
  250. Some people have heard
  251. about the Jewish people being in exile.
  252. They speak about the exiles
  253. and then coming back from the exile.
  254. Brittany, what's the exile
  255. they're talking about?
  256. (Brittany) They're talking
  257. about when God's people
  258. were taken from Jerusalem to Babylon,
  259. and they were in captivity for 70 years.
  260. (Derek) Okay, so this is when
  261. Babylonian armies came in,
  262. not only the city of Jerusalem,
  263. but all of the territory of Israel, right?
  264. Now, some people were left, a few people,
  265. like the prophet Jeremiah,
  266. for example, right?
  267. But a lot of people,
  268. including the young and the gifted,
  269. you know, the university students,
  270. because we think of people like
    Daniel, Shadrach,...
  271. (Team) Meshach, and Abednego.
  272. (Derek) Those were their Babylon names,
    actually, right...
  273. (Derek, Team) Hananiah,
    Mishael, and Azariah.
  274. (Derek) They kind of took
    the cream of the crop,
  275. and they reprogrammed them,
  276. except it didn't work
  277. with Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael,
    and Azariah, right?
  278. They determined in their hearts
    to honor God.
  279. By the way, that's
  280. a whole other book of the Bible, Daniel.
  281. That will be awesome;
  282. we're going to study that
    in another series.
  283. But God is teaching His people
  284. consequences of disobeying Him.
  285. He doesn't stop loving us, right,
  286. but He says, "If you go after pagan gods,
  287. and you abandon your faith in Me,
  288. there will be negative consequences."
  289. And Brittany's right;
  290. they're taken into exile,
  291. but it's not forever.
  292. What many people don't know
  293. is that the return from exile
  294. happened in different -
  295. what would we call it?
  296. Waves, yes, and in fact,
  297. some of the exiles never returned,
  298. either because they died in exile
    or because...?
  299. (Team) They chose...
  300. (Derek) They chose not to come back.
  301. That's a whole topic
  302. we'll discuss here, too.
  303. How could that be,
  304. when they're told they can go back
  305. to the land that God had promised them?
  306. Some of them say, "We're fine
  307. living in this pagan country," all right?
  308. So we're going to make sense of history,
  309. and we're going to start
  310. with the prophet Jeremiah.
  311. And, Harold, if you could begin
  312. our study in Jeremiah, 25.
  313. Remember we mentioned
  314. that when the children of Israel
  315. were taken captive into Babylon,
  316. some were left behind,
  317. and one of the them
  318. was a prophet named Jeremiah,
  319. a contemporary of the prophet Daniel
  320. and the prophet Ezekiel,
  321. who had been taken into captivity, okay?
  322. Let's see what Jeremiah tells us
  323. in Jeremiah 25, verses 11 and 12.
  324. (Harold) Yes, and I'll be reading
  325. from the New King James Version:
  326. (Derek) So the prophet Jeremiah's writing,
  327. and he's giving a...?
  328. (Team Member) A prophecy.
  329. (Derek) ...a prophecy, a prediction
  330. about something that will happen
  331. how far in the future?
  332. (Team) Seventy years.
  333. (Derek) Now, there are, of course,
  334. people that say, "That's ridiculous;
  335. you can't tell what's going...
  336. You could say, 'Sometime
    this might happen,
  337. but to speak authoritatively
  338. about the future, that's impossible,'"
  339. unless, of course, what, Stephanie?
  340. (Stephanie) Unless God tells you.
  341. (Derek) Unless God tells you,
  342. and God, speaking to another prophet,
  343. says, "I am God who knows
  344. the end from the beginning," right?
  345. So He has authority
  346. even over history, right?
  347. So there's a prediction.
  348. Look in Jeremiah 29 and verse 10.
  349. Gladys, if you have that.
  350. Again, this is the prophet Jeremiah
  351. who's still in Jerusalem
  352. while most of his countrymen
  353. or what we would call
  354. prisoners of war, right,
  355. or exiles, are in Babylon.
  356. (Gladys) I'll be reading
  357. from the New International Version,
  358. Jeremiah, chapter 29, verse 10:
  359. (Derek) So, there is someone in Babylon
  360. who believes the Word of God.
  361. Well, actually there's more
    than one, right,
  362. but let's look at how one
  363. of those people responds
  364. in Daniel, chapter 9, verses 1 to 3.
  365. Pedro, if you could read that for us.
  366. He's been a prisoner of war for how long?
  367. (Pedro) About 70 years.
  368. (Derek) Yeah, right, for the whole time,
  369. taken captive as a teenager in 605.
  370. Here he's now saying, "Wait,
  371. I think the time's up."
  372. Let's see what Daniel records
  373. in Daniel 9, verses 1 to 3.
  374. (Pedro) I'll be reading
  375. from the New King James Version,
    and it says:
  376. (Derek) So, what does this
  377. tell us about Daniel
  378. from what you've heard? Jason?
  379. (Jason) He's clearly in connection
    with God,
  380. and he's paying attention
  381. to what has been written down previously.
  382. (Derek) All right, he's paying attention;
  383. he's connected to God. Gladys?
  384. (Gladys) He's longing.
  385. (Derek) He's longing for...
  386. (Gladys) For his home.
  387. (Derek) By the way, does Daniel
    ever return home?
  388. (Gladys) No. The fulfillment
    of the promise.
  389. (Derek) All right, but he's
  390. longing for that fulfillment,
  391. which raises the question,
  392. is it possible that some stay,
  393. not because they don't want to go home
  394. but because God tells them to stay?
    Is that possible?
  395. (Team) Yes.
  396. (Derek) Sometimes we judge people,
  397. "Well, you didn't go home."
  398. What if God told you to stay, right?
  399. "You're still living in a city.
  400. You should be living in the country."
  401. What if God told you to go to that city
  402. to tell people about God, right?
  403. But he believes the prophecy.
  404. He believes that what God said
    to Jeremiah,
  405. it's going to be fulfilled.
  406. So I want to ask a broad question
  407. because there may be some people
  408. watching Hope Sabbath School today,
  409. maybe even for the first time
  410. (remember Loubien from Madagascar
  411. just started watching),
  412. who say, "But I've always been told
  413. that the Bible is just like
  414. human words about God.
  415. You're telling me that God
  416. can actually reveal things,
  417. even about the future?"
  418. Why is it important to believe that?
  419. What does that do for us
  420. if we believe that God
  421. is able to show us? Puia?
  422. (Puia) I believe, by studying
  423. the prophecies that God has given
  424. to us through His Word,
  425. it teaches us how to live our lives today
  426. in preparation for what is to come.
  427. In the context of this book,
  428. because Daniel was studying
    the prophecies,
  429. he knew something was about to happen,
  430. or at least it was supposed to happen,
  431. and it gave him a sense of direction
  432. on how to live his life
  433. according to God's Word.
  434. (Derek) I'm thinking,
  435. in Daniel, chapter 4,
  436. and, like I said, we'll do
  437. a whole series on Daniel,
  438. but where it says that you may know
  439. that the Most High God rules
  440. over the affairs of men
  441. or over history. Travis.
  442. (Travis) I think it's John;
  443. I could be wrong, but John,
  444. chapter 14, verse 29, I think, says,
  445. "I told you these things beforehand,
  446. so that when they happen,
  447. you'll know that I'm the Lord your God."
  448. (Derek) Okay, and He says that also
  449. in John, chapter 16, verse 4,
  450. "I'm telling you now,
  451. so that when it happens,
  452. you'll remember what I told you,
  453. and you'll believe," right?
  454. By the way, that happened
  455. with the cleansing of the temple -
  456. only afterwards they looked back, right?
  457. So there are all of these prophecies.
    Yes, Harold.
  458. (Harold) I just wanted to add
  459. that Solomon said in the Proverbs
  460. that without prophecy, or vision,
  461. people cast off restraint,
  462. so the fact that we have prophecy,
  463. we have that guidance
  464. that we can look forward to.
  465. And when it happens, as Travis mentioned,
  466. it's like, "Oh, we believe.
  467. Yes, this is true; look,
  468. God has kept His promise.
  469. So He is the true God."
  470. (Derek) So, are there
  471. any promises in the Scripture,
  472. either from Jesus or given
  473. through the prophets,
  474. that encourage you when you say,
  475. "Well, I think it's about time.
  476. How come it's not yet been fulfilled?"
  477. I mean, what's the greatest prophecy
    in the Bible,
  478. more times than any other prophecy
    in the Bible?
  479. Do you know what it is?
  480. The Second Coming of Jesus,
  481. the return of Jesus.
  482. And people will go, "Well,
  483. it's not happened yet.
  484. Maybe it won't ever happen."
  485. What promises encourage us
  486. to hold on and believe, like Daniel did,
  487. that God said it - it's going to happen?
  488. Stephanie, do you have one?
  489. (Stephanie) The one that I like
  490. is Psalm 27, and it's 13 and 14.
  491. (Derek) All right, give us
  492. a moment to find that, Psalm 27.
  493. I immediately recognize the reference
  494. because it's a song
  495. that my wife likes to sing.
  496. Psalm 27, verses 13 and 14,
  497. now, you're reading from the King James?
  498. (Stephanie) I am.
  499. (Derek) All right, verses 13 and 14.
  500. (Derek) Beautiful. "I would have fainted,"
  501. my Bible, the New King James, says,
    "I would have lost heart."
  502. I don't know if anyone else
    has another translation,
  503. like, "I would have given up,
  504. unless I had believed," right?
  505. "Wait on the Lord; be of good courage,
  506. and He will," do what?
  507. (Team) Strengthen your heart.
  508. (Derek) That's right. Yes, Harold.
  509. (Harold) I'd like to read
  510. Habakkuk, chapter 2 and verse 3,
    on waiting.
  511. (Derek) Habakkuk, that's a little book;
  512. it may be hard for some of us to find,
  513. right before the end of the Old Testament.
  514. Habakkuk, chapter 2?
  515. (Harold) And verse 3.
  516. (Derek) All right, just give us
  517. a moment to find that.
  518. (Harold) It is a small book.
  519. (Derek) I'm still looking for it;
  520. anybody else find it yet?
  521. (Team Members) Yes. We did.
  522. (Derek) You got it, all right;
    I'm almost there.
  523. Habakkuk, chapter 2 and verse 3.
  524. How does that read in your Bible?
  525. (Harold) Okay, so I'll be reading
  526. from the New King James Version:
  527. (Derek) Powerful. There's one other verse
  528. I'd like someone to read.
  529. Maybe Liza, you could read
  530. from 2 Peter, chapter 3,
  531. because that's a beautiful description
  532. by the Apostle Peter about sure prophecy,
  533. that it will come to pass
  534. at the appointed time.
  535. Second Peter, chapter 3,
  536. if you could read for us
  537. verses 9 through 13.
  538. (Liza) I'll be reading
  539. from the New King James Version:
  540. (Derek) So, question: What's the promise
  541. that God is going to keep,
  542. that people are saying, "I don't think
  543. He's going to keep that promise"?
  544. (Team Member) His return.
  545. (Derek) The return of Jesus, right?
  546. And Peter's saying, "No,
    He's patient," right?
  547. But we might change the intonation
  548. in verse 10, "But the day of the Lord
  549. will come," will come.
  550. It's going to happen,
  551. and things are going to happen with it.
  552. I love, "looking for new heavens
    and a new Earth
  553. where righteousness dwells,"
    that's beautiful.
  554. "But the day of the Lord..."
  555. (Team) Will come.
  556. (Derek) It will come.
  557. So that confidence is really important.
  558. Well, with that idea,
  559. we're looking now at prophecy
  560. about to be fulfilled,
  561. that the exile will end,
  562. and that the Jewish exiles
  563. have the opportunity to go back.
  564. Let's go to the book of Ezra to chapter 4,
  565. and let's look at some history.
  566. We're making sense of history
  567. in our first study here
  568. in Ezra, chapter 4, and, Puia,
  569. I'm going to ask if you would be willing
  570. to read for us verses 1 through 7
  571. of Ezra, chapter 4.
  572. (Puia) I'll be reading
  573. from the New King James Version,
  574. Ezra, chapter 4, verses 1 through 7:
  575. (Derek) Some of you are glad
  576. I asked Puia to read that.
  577. There were a lot of difficult names there,
  578. actually a listing of kings
  579. between about 538 and all the way down
  580. to the mid 400s, about 440,
  581. the time of Nehemiah,
  582. and some of the names
  583. you recognize, right?
  584. (Team) Yes.
  585. (Derek) There are a few,
  586. Cyrus II or Cyrus "the Great";
  587. that's the one who gives the first decree.
  588. And, by the way, who was Zerubbabel?
  589. Who was that who led the first return
  590. with a priest named Jeshua, or Joshua,
  591. but not Joshua who "fit
    the battle of Jericho."
  592. Who was Zerubbabel, anybody know? Travis?
  593. (Travis) He was the grandson
    of Jehoiachin.
  594. (Derek) That's right; he was a grandson
  595. of one of the last kings of Judah.
  596. So, why do you think
  597. he led the group back?
  598. What do you think?
  599. (Harold) He was part
  600. of the royal family of Judah,
  601. so most likely he will be the leader
  602. and appointed governor to take back...
  603. (Derek) So you think he sensed
  604. that it was his responsibility to do that?
  605. There are lots of people, Liza,
  606. who have responsibility
  607. but don't do it, right?
  608. So why do you think
  609. he took the exiles back?
  610. (Liza) I think he was following
    God's leading.
  611. I mean, after seeing the examples
  612. of previous kings and their failure
  613. to get Israel on the right track,
  614. I think he felt this conviction
  615. in his spirit to follow the way
  616. God was leading the children of Israel.
  617. (Derek) So, he's going back;
  618. he's got a priest with him.
  619. We're going to talk
  620. about some more details,
  621. but that's during the time
  622. of Cyrus the Great.
  623. Then you've got someone
  624. who's not mentioned in the text,
    Cambyses II.
  625. That's just in case
  626. you'd like to know that.
  627. Then Darius I, mentioned in verse 5,
  628. then Xerxes, mentioned in verse 6,
  629. who's also called Ahasuerus
  630. in the book of Esther.
  631. Remember that, Ahasuerus and Vashti,
  632. and then Esther becomes queen.
  633. And then you've got Artaxerxes
  634. who's very important because he's the one
  635. that gives the decree
  636. during the time of Ezra.
  637. Now, I'm glad we're not
  638. having a spelling test
  639. or I'm not asking you
  640. to write that whole list down,
  641. but I do have this question for you;
  642. it's an important question:
  643. Why do you think Ezra includes all
  644. of that historical data in the book?
  645. Why does he do that?
  646. What's the significance?
  647. Don't we believe that all Scripture
  648. is given by inspiration of God? Alex?
  649. (Alex) I think a lot of it, I mean,
  650. we see in later books in the Bible,
  651. it was used for us
  652. referring back to history
  653. to check dates and times
  654. for future prophecies.
  655. (Derek) Okay. That's especially true
  656. when we get to the time of Artaxerxes
  657. and the 457 decree,
  658. which is pretty significant
  659. when you're studying
  660. the book of Daniel, right?
  661. So you're saying that later generations
  662. will need to be aware
  663. of that historical sequence.
  664. Okay, anybody else?
  665. It's a lot of history. Liza?
  666. (Liza) I think also being displaced people
  667. who had lost their heritage and customs,
  668. they've lost a lot in this process,
  669. it was important for them
  670. to document them as they were
  671. moving through this transition
  672. so that, as you said, later generations
  673. who were wanting to know more
  674. about their heritage and the journey
    that they took,
  675. they could go back to that
  676. and feel a sense of security.
  677. (Derek) We'll find later in the books,
  678. both of Ezra and Nehemiah,
  679. huge or long lists of names.
  680. And I'm not going to ask you
    to read them all
  681. because you might say, "Well,
  682. do I really need to know them?
  683. I mean, I like to memorize the Bible,
  684. but I don't think I want
  685. to memorize all of those names."
  686. But they may have significance
    for your family
  687. if you say, "This is my heritage."
  688. But let's look at one verse
  689. in 2 Peter, chapter 1 and verse 16,
  690. that may shed some light.
  691. Do you have that, Jason,
  692. 2 Peter 1 and verse 16?
  693. (Jason) I'll be reading
  694. from the New King James Version,
  695. 2 Peter, chapter 1, verse 16:
  696. (Derek) So it's like...
  697. This isn't just, like, a fairytale, right?
  698. "This is history, and we're naming
    the people,
  699. and we're going to tell you
    what happened."
  700. And that gives us confidence,
  701. but I think Alex has got a point,
  702. not just to know that it happened,
  703. but there may be some things
  704. that we need to know
  705. that will help us understand
  706. other prophecies of the Bible.
  707. Well, let's go on to Ezra,
  708. in chapter 7 of Ezra's book,
  709. verses 1 through 10,
  710. and we'll learn something about Ezra
  711. who leads what some might call
    the second wave,
  712. Zerubbabel, about 538,
  713. now we're about 458, 457.
  714. And, Brittany, if you could read
  715. the first ten verses of Ezra, chapter 7,
  716. I'd like you to listen carefully
  717. and say, "What do we learn
  718. about this priest named Ezra
  719. from the account in chapter 7?"
  720. (Brittany) And I'll be reading
  721. from the New King James Version,
  722. Ezra, chapter 7, verses 1 through 10:
  723. (Derek) Wow, verse 10
  724. is just a powerful verse, isn't it?
  725. But again, back, Liza,
  726. to what you were saying earlier,
  727. what's the function...
  728. By the way, well read, all those names.
  729. What's the purpose
  730. of the first five verses,
  731. and then verse 6 says, "this Ezra"?
  732. (Liza) It's very clear that Ezra
  733. came from a very distinguished family.
  734. He was a descendant of Aaron
  735. who was in some ways Moses' right hand
  736. when delivering the children of Israel.
  737. And so he comes from this
    priestly lineage,
  738. and he probably grew up
  739. with a lot of knowledge of the law of God.
  740. He was probably taught
  741. by his father, his father's father.
  742. And so, he had a lot of knowledge
  743. and understanding of God's law.
  744. (Derek) So, it could be, you know,
  745. there are a lot of Lizas or Jasons
  746. or Joshuas in the world, but, "I'm the one
  747. who is a direct descendant
  748. of the high priest, Aaron,
  749. which means that, of course,
  750. he's also in the priestly line, right?
  751. So, that's his heritage,
  752. but what about him as a person?
  753. What did you hear as a person, Liza?
  754. (Liza) I think one thing
  755. that this verse teaches us
  756. is you can't choose your heritage.
  757. I mean, you are born
  758. in whatever family you are born in,
  759. but he made a conscious decision
  760. to prepare his heart to seek after God.
  761. And that's the part that you can change.
  762. He was convicted to do something different
  763. and to follow God with his own heart,
  764. and that's what qualified him,
  765. later on we'll find that he was
  766. the fit person to lead the children
    of Israel.
  767. (Derek) Because not all
  768. of the descendants of Aaron
  769. followed God, did they, right?
  770. So, that's nice; I like
  771. the way that you said that:
  772. We cannot choose our ancestry,
  773. but we can choose who we are
  774. by the grace of God.
  775. All right, what else did you notice
  776. about Ezra as a person? Yes, Puia.
  777. (Puia) That he was skilled.
  778. (Derek) Okay.
  779. (Puia) Verse 6 mentioned
  780. that he was a skilled scribe
  781. in the Law of Moses.
  782. (Derek) So, what does that tell you?
  783. (Puia) Probably he was smart...
  784. (Derek) How do you get
    skilled at something?
  785. Education and practice, right?
  786. Attitude is one thing, that's good,
  787. but skilled is another thing, right?
  788. (Puia) Training.
  789. (Derek) That involves training,
  790. education, practice. Harold?
  791. (Harold) The other thing is,
  792. at the end of verse 10,
  793. it says that he tried to teach
  794. the statutes and ordinances in Israel,
  795. so he was not just trying to keep
  796. this knowledge from the Scriptures,
  797. but he was working
  798. to spread it and share it,
  799. because, again, this is about restoration,
  800. trying to lead these people back
  801. to the Word of God and to God Himself.
  802. (Derek) So, he seeks it, the law of God,
    and he...?
  803. (Team Member) Teaches it.
  804. (Derek) No, there's something in between.
  805. He seeks it, he...?
  806. (Derek, Team) He does it.
  807. (Derek) And he...?
  808. (Derek, Team) He shares it.
  809. (Derek) You know, to just seek it
  810. and share it without doing it
  811. is not going to work.
  812. It's not credible, is it?
  813. (Team) No.
  814. (Derek) But here's this man,
  815. just emerges out of nowhere,
  816. but from a distinguished family,
  817. and he purposes in his heart.
  818. Does that remind you of someone else?
  819. (Team) Daniel.
  820. (Derek) Daniel and his
    three friends, right,
  821. Purposing in their hearts,
  822. they made a decision.
  823. They wanted to not only know about God
  824. but obey God and...?
  825. And share that with other people.
    Yes, Travis?
  826. (Travis) I was just going to say,
  827. the first part of verse 10, it says,
  828. "Ezra prepared his heart
    to seek the Lord."
  829. So this wasn't something
    that just happened.
  830. This is something that...He sought God
  831. and was preparing his heart
    to be the leader.
  832. He didn't know the future,
  833. what he was going to do,
  834. but he was preparing his heart,
  835. and then God called him.
  836. (Derek) Jason, I want you to read...
  837. We didn't read - there's a long list
  838. of names coming up here in chapter 8,
  839. which I'm not going to ask you to read.
  840. But I do want you to read in chapter 7
  841. the entire decree, verses 11 to 26,
  842. of King Artaxerxes to restore
  843. and rebuild Jerusalem.
  844. And then I want to ask
  845. the question of the group and of those
  846. who are watching around the world,
  847. why do you think the Holy Spirit
  848. inspires him to write the entire decree
  849. of this ancient king?
  850. I think there's an answer,
  851. and, Alex, you kind of alluded to it
  852. earlier in our study.
  853. But let's listen to the decree,
  854. starting in verse 11 of Ezra, chapter 7.
  855. (Jason) I'll be reading here
  856. from the New King James Version,
  857. Ezra, chapter 7, verses 11 through 26:
  858. (Derek) Now, while Jason's reading this,
  859. I'm thinking, "This is astonishing."
  860. Why would a pagan king make such a...
  861. How would you describe this decree?
  862. Gracious, generous, God-honoring decree?
  863. What's the answer? Liza?
  864. (Liza) I think he was God-fearing, too,
  865. because in verse 23 it says,
  866. "For why should there be wrath
  867. against the realm of the king
    and his sons?"
  868. meaning he felt that,
  869. if he didn't do this,
  870. there would be consequences
  871. of his disobedience.
  872. (Derek) Okay, so you think
  873. that he's not just a generous person,
  874. but he was under conviction
  875. of the Spirit of God, too? Pedro?
  876. (Pedro) We see that Ezra
  877. knew the law of God,
  878. and he could see the blessings
  879. that God has put upon the people of Israel
  880. and also those that are over them.
  881. He saw that calamity
  882. could come upon himself
  883. if he would not obey God,
  884. and he had plenty of evidence
  885. from the history of the people of Israel
  886. inside the captivity there,
  887. of what happened to those
  888. who have gone against God's people.
  889. So he was trying to protect, probably,
  890. his kingdom during this time.
  891. (Derek) He certainly knew also
  892. about Daniel and Shadrach,
  893. Meshach, and Abednego.
  894. We could take a lot of time here,
  895. but we've got to move on.
  896. But would you agree
  897. that something supernatural
    is happening here?
  898. (Team) Yes.
  899. (Derek) It's not just, "He's
  900. a very nice pagan king who's saying
  901. wonderful things about the God of Heaven,"
  902. and giving all of the resources
    that are needed.
  903. Let's look in verses 27 and 28,
  904. Alex, if you could read for us,
  905. how Ezra responded to this, can I call it,
  906. a startling decree of a pagan king.
  907. (Alex) I'll be reading
  908. from the King James Version:
  909. (Derek) What did Ezra recognize?
  910. God is at work here, right?
  911. "God is at work here;
  912. God is at work with me;
  913. God is at work with the king," right?
  914. Something amazing is happening,
  915. and so he prepares.
  916. Now, we could read
  917. verses 1 through 14 of chapter 8;
  918. I'm not going to.
  919. But does anybody know
  920. approximately how many of the exiles
  921. decided to go with Ezra?
  922. (Team) About 1500 men.
  923. (Derek) Someone's done the math
  924. and said about 1500.
  925. Now, I don't know if that means
  926. there were children, too,
    and family members,
  927. but you say, "Derek, that's, like,
  928. a tiny group of people,"
  929. after they've seen what?
  930. What have we just read?
  931. (Team) A miracle.
  932. (Derek) A miraculous intervention of God
  933. touching the heart of a pagan king.
  934. So here's the difficult question:
  935. Why do you think so few
  936. chose to return back to Judah with Ezra?
  937. There may be many reasons,
  938. but let's look at a few of them, shall we?
  939. Let's start here, Alex?
  940. (Alex) I think a lot of them
  941. had just become complacent
  942. with where they're at
  943. and comfortable with where they're at.
  944. That actually makes me
  945. think about me in situations.
  946. It's easy to judge them with that,
  947. but it's like we get comfortable
  948. with where we're at so often,
    and it's like...
  949. (Derek) "You really want me
  950. to go on a mission trip
  951. where I'm going to sleep on the floor
  952. and have bugs crawling around
  953. when I can stay in my condo," right?
  954. I mean, so you're saying one reason,
  955. they just felt really comfortable
    where they were,
  956. and do you think they were right
  957. to recognize there would be some hardships
  958. if they went home?
  959. (Team Member) Absolutely.
  960. (Derek) Anybody else,
  961. another reason. Pedro?
  962. (Pedro) I believe not many had
  963. an encounter with God.
  964. We see that they were in captivity
  965. because they were disobedient,
  966. and there were not many changes of heart.
  967. We see the king, who had
    a change of heart,
  968. to give that blessing,
  969. We see that God does the same thing
  970. with most of the kings
  971. in the Old Testament.
  972. And we see the Pharaoh.
  973. God came in an encounter with the Pharaoh,
  974. but he chose not to encounter
  975. a relationship with God.
  976. (Derek) But Nebuchadnezzar did,
    right, eventually.
  977. So you're seeing these changes.
  978. Is it possible that God wanted some
  979. to stay by in exile?
  980. (Team) That's possible.
  981. (Derek) I like what Pedro said,
  982. that maybe for many, it was just
  983. they lacked that relationship.
  984. When Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego
  985. refused to bow down
  986. to the golden idol,
  987. how many other of the captive
  988. children of Israel stood?
  989. They bowed down; some say even the king,
  990. a descendant, maybe a relative
  991. of Zerubbabel was there and bowed down.
  992. So, I think there's something to this,
  993. comfortable and disconnected from God.
  994. Now there may be a few exceptions, right,
  995. like Daniel, that God says...
  996. Of course, Daniel's gone now,
  997. but with the first group
  998. with Zerubbabel leaving,
  999. God may say, "Stay by, Daniel,
  1000. I've got some work
  1001. I want you to do." Travis.
  1002. (Travis) I think, too, they had houses,
  1003. land and possessions.
  1004. So if you can imagine you had a nice house
  1005. and all these possessions,
  1006. when you leave, that's gone.
  1007. It's not like you sell the house
  1008. and buy something somewhere else.
  1009. You have to go build a new house,
    plant new crops.
  1010. I mean, this is a life-changing thing.
  1011. (Derek) Starting again.
  1012. (Travis) Yes.
  1013. (Derek) But I like what Alex was saying,
  1014. I think this has something
  1015. to do with us today.
  1016. You know, if we are not connected to God,
  1017. and we're too comfortable and complacent,
  1018. God might ask us to do something,
  1019. and we'll just say, "No." Liza?
  1020. (Liza) I think also they struggled
  1021. to believe in God's goodness.
  1022. I mean, they were there, as Pedro said,
  1023. as a result of their disobedience,
  1024. so it is a punishment.
  1025. And so I think it was hard for them
  1026. to change their perspective of God
  1027. and say, "Well, God has forgiven us.
  1028. God is ready to work with us.
  1029. God is willing to bless us."
  1030. I think that was hard for them to accept
  1031. because they knew what they did wrong.
  1032. (Derek) So let's, in our last part
    of the study,
  1033. go back to Ezra and look
  1034. at some of the preparations he made
  1035. because if he made them,
  1036. and God said, "Go," and he went,
  1037. maybe those are preparations
  1038. that would be helpful for us
  1039. in the Last Days, yes or no?
  1040. Absolutely, right?
  1041. So let's look again in Ezra, chapter 7.
  1042. Laurel, if you could read
  1043. verse 6 and verse 10 again.
  1044. I think you have another translation,
  1045. so let's see how the translators
  1046. capture verse 6 and verse 10 of Ezra 7.
  1047. And the question is,
  1048. what important preparation had Ezra made
  1049. that enabled the Lord to use him,
  1050. and we might also say enabled him to hear
  1051. when God asked him to act?
  1052. (Laurel) Okay, I'll be reading
  1053. from the New American Standard Bible,
    Ezra 7:6:
  1054. (Derek) And then verse 10.
  1055. (Laurel) Verse 10:
  1056. (Derek) So, help me, Harold,
    what's some preparation
  1057. men and women might make today,
  1058. just like Ezra made back then,
  1059. so when God says, "I've got
  1060. a work for you to do,"
  1061. that we'll say, "Here I am,
    Lord, send me"?
  1062. (Harold) We need that alone time with God,
  1063. that solitude, so that we can pray
  1064. and meditate on His Word,
  1065. not just read, but meditate.
  1066. And, like, really find deeper things
    and re-read it
  1067. because he was skilled,
  1068. and you become skilled when you repeat
  1069. and do the same things
    over and over again.
  1070. (Derek) It was not just a casual reading
    of the Word.
  1071. All right. Stephanie?
  1072. (Stephanie) There's something to say
  1073. about having that daily commitment
  1074. because then you're staying in tune
  1075. with the voice of God,
  1076. and also you know the Word of God.
  1077. So, if a call comes to you,
  1078. you can determine whether or not
  1079. it is God's voice.
  1080. (Derek) Now, it's interesting in verse 6
  1081. it said the king granted his request
  1082. because he saw the hand of God.
  1083. How do people see
  1084. that the hand of God is upon you?
  1085. How do they see that?
  1086. (Gladys) Through your actions.
  1087. (Derek) Through your actions?
  1088. Is that supernatural, too? Pedro?
  1089. (Pedro) I see here a very important word;
    it says "skilled."
  1090. (Derek) Skilled.
  1091. (Pedro) I know when you have a craft,
  1092. and you know how to work with some craft,
  1093. like I like to work with cars,
  1094. for me, not to just watch
  1095. a video on YouTube or learn a lesson
  1096. from "How to Change Oil"
  1097. or to change a head gasket on a car,
  1098. will give me the ability to do it.
  1099. But he sought to learn
  1100. from the law of God,
  1101. He'd do it, he does, and then
  1102. he spread to others, he'd teach others.
  1103. And I think that's very important.
  1104. He was skilled, not because he
    knew about His Word,
  1105. he practiced on his life,
  1106. and he told others, and that made him
  1107. very knowledgeable about it.
  1108. (Derek) I see Stephanie looking at you
  1109. saying, "I never knew
  1110. you were a skilled mechanic."
  1111. "What is a head gasket?" right?
  1112. (Stephanie) No, I know what
    that is, actually.
  1113. (Derek) Yeah, you know what
    a head gasket is.
  1114. It's part of the engine, but, you know,
  1115. you don't just get that
    automatically, right?
  1116. There's preparation; there's discipline.
  1117. So these are some important
    preparations he made.
  1118. I'm going to take a couple more,
  1119. and then I want you to think
  1120. of some other people besides Ezra
  1121. that you could say, "Well, they made
  1122. important preparation, too,
  1123. so that when God
  1124. gave them an assignment,
  1125. they were ready. Puia?
  1126. (Puia) I think the other aspect
  1127. we can learn from this story
  1128. is the importance of education.
  1129. In context of today,
  1130. I think God can use you more
  1131. as you learn more about the history
  1132. and the context of the Scripture
    and all of this
  1133. even in today's context when serving God.
  1134. (Derek) There's a saying;
  1135. I believe it's in the book of Ecclesiastes
  1136. where Solomon said, "When the ax is dull,
  1137. more effort is required,
  1138. but wisdom will bring success."
  1139. What's the wisdom? To sharpen the ax.
  1140. And that's what education does,
  1141. and practice - skilled.
  1142. Thank you for pointing that out.
  1143. So, "God, if You want me
  1144. to be powerful in the Word
  1145. before a council someday,
  1146. I want to take time
  1147. with the Word now," right?
  1148. I want to be skilled.
  1149. "If You want me to speak
  1150. in the power of the Holy Spirit
  1151. before the nations some day,
  1152. I want to speak for You now to my neighbor
  1153. in the Holy Spirit." Joshua?
  1154. (Joshua) I think it's really important
  1155. for us to embrace the principles
  1156. of the Bible in our lives
  1157. and to truly practice them.
  1158. And what I find to be amazing is that
  1159. I listen to these great motivational
  1160. and inspirational speakers of the world,
  1161. and they'll say things that people will
  1162. listen to and hold onto and practice,
  1163. not realizing that that same principle
    is in the Bible.
  1164. And, so, many people
  1165. have profited off of God's principles
  1166. that He has given to us for free,
  1167. but they'll pay hundreds of dollars
  1168. to go to a seminar and hear
  1169. the same thing from someone else's mouth.
  1170. (Derek) A great revelation,
  1171. but it's still true, right?
  1172. It's a principle of truth
  1173. that is also spelled out
  1174. in the Word of God.
  1175. Let's talk about some other people.
  1176. Ezra was not alone.
  1177. We might say, well, Nehemiah,
  1178. and we're going to talk
  1179. about both of them in this series.
  1180. But let's scan broader in the Scripture
  1181. and say, "There's a young woman,"
  1182. or, "There's an older man,"
  1183. older woman, young, whatever age group,
  1184. "that their preparation was crucial
  1185. for the work God called them to do."
  1186. Anybody have a - just share
  1187. a story with me that comes
  1188. to your mind. Anybody?
  1189. (Alex) I think of Daniel.
  1190. We talked about it already,
  1191. but, I mean, look at how he
  1192. prepared himself with his friends,
  1193. with eating well, with his diet.
  1194. (Derek) That's right, Daniel, chapter 1,
  1195. even taking care of his body
  1196. was part of his training, right?
  1197. Good point. Yes?
  1198. (Puia) I remember Paul
  1199. who was previously Saul.
  1200. He was a learned man as well,
    educated man,
  1201. and when God transformed his heart
  1202. when he met Jesus, he was very useful.
  1203. And, in fact, most of the New Testament
  1204. is written by Paul.
  1205. So I think we see an importance
  1206. of training as well here.
  1207. (Derek) And another person,
  1208. which you may not have thought of,
  1209. who wrote a major portion
  1210. of the New Testament
  1211. if you add the book of the Gospel
  1212. and the book of Acts together,
  1213. you've got a major contributor
  1214. who happened, by profession, to be...?
  1215. A physician, Dr. Luke,
  1216. writing to his friend Theophilus, right?
  1217. So there's another one, preparation.
  1218. Someone else. Pedro?
  1219. (Pedro) I think Esther.
  1220. I was thinking about, she was
  1221. prepared for that moment
  1222. to liberate God's people.
  1223. We don't know, it might not be education;
  1224. it might not be something
  1225. that we can go to school for,
  1226. but I think through her
  1227. process of learning from her uncle,
  1228. she would be able to be prepared
  1229. to confront even the king
    in a time of need.
  1230. (Derek) What about us today?
  1231. We've got a couple of minutes left.
  1232. What can we do?
  1233. I think we've talked about some principles
  1234. from Ezra and from some
  1235. of these other great women and men of God.
  1236. What are some things, Joshua,
  1237. we can do today, we can do?
  1238. (Joshua) I think that we can
  1239. be as effective as Jesus
  1240. if we do the things that He did
  1241. in the way that He did it,
  1242. meaning, every interaction,
  1243. every experience that He had with someone,
    was life-changing.
  1244. (Derek) And He did it and said,
  1245. "The Spirit of the Lord is..."?
  1246. (Team) Upon Me.
  1247. (Derek) So it's happening
  1248. by the power of the Holy Spirit.
    Okay, Liza?
  1249. (Liza) I think we need
  1250. to prepare our hearts,
  1251. and that means going on a journey
  1252. of soul-seeking, reflecting, praying
  1253. to God to show what's in our hearts,
  1254. to bring that to the surface,
  1255. so that we can resolve
  1256. whatever things that we're dealing with.
  1257. I mean, clearly, Ezra
  1258. was not a perfect person,
  1259. but he went through that process
  1260. of being pure-hearted...
  1261. (Derek) Could I pray, "God,
  1262. if there's anything holding me back
  1263. from being the woman of God
  1264. You want me to be,
  1265. from being the man of God
  1266. You want me to be..."?
  1267. There's that wonderful prayer
  1268. in Psalm 139, "Search me, O God,
  1269. and know my heart." Brittany?
  1270. (Brittany) I was just repeating
    the verse with you.
  1271. (Derek) "Try me, and know
    my anxious thoughts."
  1272. Travis, one last thought.
  1273. (Travis) I'm just thinking,
  1274. the Bible says, "Be not only hearers
  1275. of the Word, but doers."
  1276. So, if we study the Word of God
  1277. and say, "God, show me
  1278. how you want me to live my life,"
  1279. and put the words that we read
  1280. from the Bible into action,
  1281. then we can be a light to the world.
  1282. (Derek) Two thousand four hundred plus
    years ago,
  1283. the Spirit of God impresses someone
  1284. from a noble family, really, right,
  1285. distinguished family, Ezra,
  1286. to say, "It's not just about where you
    came from,
  1287. it's about who I want you to be today."
  1288. And he purposed in his heart,
  1289. and he did the hard work of education.
  1290. He became skilled, to not only hear
  1291. but to do and then to share.
  1292. And God used him to impact his generation.
  1293. And there's a lesson
  1294. for each one of us today
  1295. by the power of the Holy Spirit,
  1296. as Joshua said, that God
    has a work for us.
  1297. And God has a work for you, too.
  1298. I don't know what it is, but I'm excited
  1299. because God has plans for us
  1300. way beyond what we could ever imagine.
  1301. And it's not just a matter
  1302. of saying "God, I'm available."
  1303. It's saying, "God, what do You
  1304. want me to do now to prepare,
  1305. not to earn Your love or favor,
  1306. but to be a sharp ax in Your hand,
  1307. a useful tool, a faithful servant?"
  1308. Let's pray we can be that
  1309. as we continue this wonderful journey,
  1310. studying Ezra and Nehemiah.
  1311. Father in Heaven, thank You
    for the inspiration
  1312. of this man's life, Ezra.
  1313. Thank You for the inspired testimony.
  1314. And God, for us today, may we
  1315. be the women of God, the men of God,
  1316. who not only hear, but do and share
  1317. for the honor of Your name.
  1318. In Jesus' name. Amen.
  1319. (Team) Amen.
  1320. (Derek) It's going to be
    an exciting journey
  1321. as we study two ancient books,
  1322. once clustered together as one single book
  1323. in the Hebrew Scriptures,
  1324. Ezra and Nehemiah, lessons
  1325. for our lives today.
  1326. Right now I know: Hear it,
  1327. do it, and share it.
  1328. Be a blessing to those around you.
  1329. ♪ theme music ♪