With All Who Had Separated Themselves

Then the children of Israel who had returned from the captivity ate together (the Passover) with all who had separated themselves from the filth of the nations of the land in order to seek the LORD God of Israel (Ezra 6:21).

Imagine how awesome and exciting it must have been for the Jewish exiles to come home to Jerusalem from captivity! Even more so, now the temple has been rebuilt, and they are keeping the Passover feast. What a joyous time of celebration. The Passover feast was a memorial feast that served as a reminder of how God delivered them from Egyptian bondage.

Please take note in the above passage, it was not just the Jews who ate the Passover. There were apparently Gentiles who became proselytes to the Jewish faith and sought the God of Israel. They “separated themselves from the filth of the nations of the land in order to seek the Lord God of Israel.” If you think about it, that is such an encouraging and powerful statement. These Gentiles left their pagan ways, they saw their ways as “filth” and wanted to get as far away from it as possible. They repented. God became first in their lives. If you go back to Moses’ law, it also required that the Gentile males had to be circumcised before keeping the Passover (Exodus 12:47-49). Now they are eating “together” with the Jews in this feast.

This is like the book of Ephesians. Jews and Gentiles both are united under one Lord. Together (Ephesians 1:10; 2:5,6,21,22; 4:16 – New King James Version).

In order to be together, both Jews and Gentiles had to separate themselves from the filth of the world. Here is a point about influence, men. The Gentiles were led to God because the Jews were living for God. The Jews had first left behind the ways of the world and the filth of the nations, and it became an example and a light for the Gentiles to follow.

We see other examples in Ezra and Nehemiah of God’s people doing the exact opposite. Instead of separating from the filth of the nations, they married into that filth and raised kids in it. Their kids became pagan instead of godly (Nehemiah 13). So here in Ezra 6 is a positive and powerful witness of what your influence can do for God. But you must first separate from the dirty-ness of the world.

Your friends and co-workers will see that change. Pray that they like these Gentiles will also want to come and seek the Lord God. May they be united and together with us at Christ’s table as we celebrate Jesus as our Passover (1 Corinthians 5:7).

“You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:13-16).

 

The Beginning of Months for You

“This month shall be the beginning of months for you; it is to be the first month of the year to you (Exodus 12:2).

Happy New Year! 2017!

I want to thank you as readers for the encouragement and feedback you have offered over the first year of the Men’s Daily Briefing. May this year’s articles be a blessing to us all as we seek to be the men God has called us to be.

The Beginning of Months for You

Take a moment this morning to think about a New Year mentioned in the Old Testament. For Israel, God created a new calendar when they were delivered from Egyptian bondage. That month, Abib, was the month in which they celebrated the Passover. This month was when God brought about the 10th plague on Egypt, the death of the firstborn. Israel was spared, however, because they put the blood of a lamb without spot or blemish on their doorposts. When God “saw the blood” He passed over them and they were saved. God said “this month shall be the beginning of months for you.” This is how you start your religious calendar every year.

Men, as we begin our new year, let us remember that Jesus Christ became our Passover Lamb.

…for indeed, Christ our Passover, was sacrificed for us (1 Corinthians 5:7).

The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! (John 1:29)

…because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed (Romans 3:26).

Beginning our New Year with Jesus:

Take a moment this morning, if you have not already, and praise God and thank Him for the blood of the Lamb that covers you from your sins. Thank Him that we can start every year, month and day afresh because of the blood of Jesus Christ.

Contemplate why you were forgiven. One reason is because of God’s great love for you. A second reason is for His glory and His name’s sake. But another reason He saved you is so that you can be free to serve Him. You have the greatest blessing and privilege in the world to serve God today, and that is made possible by the Passover Lamb, Jesus.

If you have not been covered by the blood of Jesus, and you believe in Him as the Son of God and risen Savior, then God commands you to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins (Acts 2:38; 22:16). Read the following passage and see how being baptized into His death will lead to us walking in newness of life.

What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died has been freed from sin (Romans 6:1-7).

May we as men all walk in newness of life in 2017 as we are covered by the blood of Jesus Christ and saved by His grace and mercy.