(written in “large, friendly letters”)
Do you feel something different since returning from Covid exile? Feeling flat? Do you have intrusive negative thoughts? Increased alertness, anger, fits of rage, irritability, or hatred, difficulty sleeping or concentrating? Do you find yourself avoiding situations or people?
Covid Exile forced our church family, our temples, to shut down and disperse worldwide. We were separated from our spiritual homes and put in remarkably stressful isolation from our community.
The pandemic will likely have long-term effects on spiritual health, mental wellbeing, and addiction. Current data point to a major disruption in the way churches live and grow. We’ve lost our ability to community.
Can we reverse that trend?
There are six books from the Hebrew Bible that address post-trauma stress and rebuilding after Babylonian exile. What do they have to tell us today? By studying them together, we will find G-d’s solution to this present darkness.
So, grab a cup of tea and pull up a comfy chair. Like a friendly fireside chat on a blustery autumnal eve, it’ll draw us closer, time will fly. What starts out as a simple, friendly conversation will quickly become the opening thread to a greater adventure.
This tempting string, this flaxen filament before us, if we decide to pull it, will reveal a problem of Brobdingnagian proportions that we simply must think through together, you and I. And as we do, a shocking duty will emerge like a rocky spire in a receding, moon-lit tide–one that’s as inescapable as it is foreboding. It calls to us…woos us to engage.
It’s in this moment that I find my heart gladdened that you are here. I couldn’t imagine this epic quest without your skills and your spiritual gifts.
Are you feeling something different since returning from Covid exile? Feeling flat? Do you have intrusive negative thoughts? Increased alertness, anger, fits of rage, irritability, or hatred, difficulty sleeping or concentrating? Do you find yourself avoiding situations or people?
Covid exile forced our church families, our temples, to shut down and disperse worldwide. We were separated from our spiritual homes and put in remarkably stressful isolation from our community.
The pandemic will likely have long-term effects on spiritual health, mental wellbeing, and addiction. While it’s not yet clear what will happen, current data point to a major disruption in the way churches live and grow.
Can we reverse that trend?
This exciting global project will result in a simple collection of communications, suitable for newsletters or emails, that we will craft together–one per “day”.
By the word, day, we mean one chapter of scripture. We have identified 56 chapters–there’s a helpful chart in the next section that lists them in order. Ultimately this project might be reviewed in 56 hours, 56 days, or 56 weeks.
This trip will be 56 weeks.
Each “day” will have a loving message that carefully examines scripture, which we will find to be a page lifted right out of someone else’s journal, written by a generation 2400 years ago, and that was facing the same problem we’re facing today. We’ll do this in the actual order the events occurred and learn from the source how they struggled through the ordeals of returning from their exile to find their temple destroyed and community broken.
What from their successes can we apply to our dire needs today?
Together, we’ll find out and then our messages will be sent out, one every “day”, to your church’s leadership in an important preparation for a systematic and effective outreach effort to rebuild your temple through a custom-made plan. Be assured, G-d will reveal it to you as we go through this process together.
How deep is your desire to see your temple restored?
Everyone’s contributions here are valuable. We’ll curate them as input for a book written to help remedy this global problem we all face.
That is our quest.
By participating and contributing in this 3rd cohort, this 3rd merry band going through this material together, you consent to this discussion being used as a loving gift to improve our approach and material for this ongoing tail for the next group.
We Need You
- Pray for this project
- Register for a login on this site
- We’ll attempt to email out some reminders along the way
- Get ready to read each post and apply the scriptures to your life
- Rate it! How much did each post fit your life?
- Let us know what you think!
- Engage others in a lively discussion about each chapter
- Invite others to join this community!
Become a part of the rebuilding effort world-wide.
If you have any questions, you can ask the author directly!
Let’s take a fresh look at our lives and understand the problem we globally face, realize that our Father has led a similar group through the same restoration process before, and let’s role up our sleeves and get busy. His temple awaits!
What’s Expected of You
The expectations on you are high. Are you up for the challenge? This is a year-long commitment. Are you ready? Here’s what’s expected of each participant.
- Weekly read the focus chapter of scripture for that week
- Read the accompanying devotional synopsis
- Memorize that week’s memorization verse (yes, we have to memorize things in spiritual warfare)
- Engage others here and in small groups where you are
- Know (discover if you don’t know) what your gifts of the Spirit are and apply them — this is a team effort.
- Put into practice Key Take-aways each week
This study will span all 6 books of the Hebrew Bible that deal with the return from exile in chronological order. Significant work went into structuring this order, but there’s always room for improvement. Our goal is to come as close as we can to a “daily journal” approach to these scriptures as we walk in their sandals for 56 “days”.
A Historical Note of Interest:
A word about this next section of scripture. You can skip this historical note if you’re not a Bible geek. 😉
Some historians say the chapters from Ezra 1-6 and then 7-10 are thematic. That is to say that Darius is Darius and Artaxerxes is Artaxerxes, and therefore the events are historically thematic, meaning Ezra is first writing like a historian in 1-6, jumping back and forth in the narrative, like a history book on the United States might have a chapter about Abraham Lincoln where they also site something George Washington said or did. Then in Ezra 7-10, he starts writing a personal diary, which is chronological.
Others say the text is, itself, chronological and they account for this jumble of names by saying that Persian kings shared names, or titles that sound like names, and that two Persian kings not even listed in the Bible but that did historically exist, Cambyses and Smedis, were also known as Darius and Artaxerxes, names shared by their respective grandsons as titles. Therefore, the enemies of the Jews could appeal in Ezra 4 to Ahasuerus (Xerxes, really Cambyses) and then Artaxerxes (really Smedis) and then later appeal to Darius (Darius), and then later in Ezra 7, he could be provisioned by Artaxerxes (Artaxerxes). The whole thing could be chronological but would result in large gaps of 15 years or more between letters and events, which would make some prophets and characters unrealistically old.
Our project here arrives at something of a chronological hybrid because there are extrabiblical texts that suggest that Darius was a king not really all that into ruling, and he would take long sabbaticals, leaving his son Xerxes to rule for a season and then coming back to fix messes. Xerxes would often go on military campaigns, such as that seen in the movie The 300, where he fought king Leonidas of Greece. During such times, if he was also ruling, he might yield administrative nuisances to his son Artaxerxes. In this way, a young Artaxerxes may issue an impetuous decree in his youth that his grandpa Darius may later have to correct.
This neatly explains the unanswered letter to Xerxes mentioned in Ezra 4:6, and the fast-following letter to Artaxerxes in 4:7. The reply letter from Artaxerxes in Ezra 4 shutting down the work of the Jews vs. his letter in Ezra 7 to provide everything Ezra and team needed for their journey to join the work effort are strikingly different in tone and maturity. The first letter reads like a teenager responding to a nuisance with informal and personal salutations to the people of the land (likely Samaritans) and the second like a regal magistrate, remembering perhaps Grandpa’s rebukes, providing well-constructed legal directions for all care. Also, the letter from Darius in Ezra 6, which falls between those two letters from Artaxerxes, feels a little like it’s written by an embarrassed or angry grumpy grandpa who is having to fix a mess his dopey grandson made of things. The only issue to tie up with this approach is that the scriptures capture this particular time of Darius after returning from a sabbatical as his “second” year, which can be a reasonable interpretation of that particular period of his reign.
In this way, with our interpretation for this project, like the thematic interpretation, Darius is Darius and Artaxerxes is Artaxerxes, and yet the events can be historically chronological. With this approach, the ages of the prophets and characters can have reasonable lifespans.
From Nehemiah 12
“Now in the days…,”
For the Bible geeks out there, and you know who you are, the next section will provide hours and hours of fun! It’s like a Little Orphan Annie Secret Decoder Ring (see the movie, A Christmas Story). But it spells out something more profound than, “drink your Ovaltine!”
We can use the following to true-up our assumptions for chronological ordering of post-exilic scriptures:
From Other Sources
Using mostly scriptures, the table above, and a few other sources, we pulled together the following timeline of chapters. Here is the table from which we worked to develop this project.
Please sign up for this fascinating journey together and give us your feedback for each post. The discussions should be amazing and I look forward to your thoughts.
When you sign-up, if you don’t see emails from this site, make sure to check your spam folder for emails from ‘[email protected]’ and mark as “not spam” if you want to see important messages from this website.
You can start your adventure here
- Exile’s Return—Intro
- Day 1 Notes – Ezra 1:
- Day 2 Notes – Ezra 2:
- Day 3 Notes – Ezra 3:
- Day 4 Notes – Ezra 4:
Because of Him,