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Nov 29, 2016

ESTHER 5-6:
In Esther 3-4 Haman cast lots (purim) to find out that March 7 was the lucky date to exterminate the Jews. Mordecai requested that Esther intercede directly to the king. And since she hadn’t been called for, the only way to do that would endanger Esther herself, since no one was allowed to approach the king in the inner court uninvited.

ISAIAH 41b:
Did you notice in yesterday’s reading, we heard a description of a king that sounded similar to one described in the book of Daniel?

2 GNT “Who was it that brought the conqueror from the east and makes him triumphant wherever he goes? Who gives him victory over kings and nations? His sword strikes them down as if they were dust. His arrows scatter them like straw before the wind.
3 He follows in pursuit and marches safely on, so fast that he hardly touches the ground!  Who was it that made this happen?
4 Who has determined the course of history? I, the Lord, was there at the beginning, and I, the Lord, will be there at the end.

Because of the amazingly fast progress of this king being like the description of Alexander the Great (the male goat) in Daniel 8, I previously thought that Isaiah was also describing Alexander. But Alexander came from the west. Instead, this is the same king as mentioned in verse 25 of today’s reading, and scholars say that he is most likely Cyrus. In a few chapters he will be mentioned by name, and chapter 41 is not the only time Isaiah alludes to him without mentioning his name.

2THESSALONIANS 2:
In preparing for his topic of Christ’s return, in 2Thessalonians chapter 1 Paul mentioned the punishment of people who refuse to obey the Good News about Christ. They will ‘suffer’ or ‘pay the penalty of eternal destruction’. Note that if people are going to be burned up in hell, or if God’s punishment was simply that people would cease to exist, it would not be called ‘suffer eternal destruction’. This understanding is not just a doctrine. It turns out that this gives great comfort to those who are suffering persecution, and gives a great motivation to all of us for sharing the Good News.

Translation notes:
2 not to be so easily confused in your thinking or upset by the claim that the Day of the Lord has [already] come. Perhaps it is thought that we said this while prophesying or preaching, or [they may claim] that we wrote it in a letter.
3 Do not let anyone deceive you in any way. For the Day [of the Lord’s return] will not come until the final Rebellion takes place and the Wicked One appears, who is destined to hell.
7 The Mysterious Wickedness is already at work, but what is going to happen will not happen until the one who [is holding//holds] it back is taken out of the way.
10 and [he will] use every kind of wicked deceit on those who will perish. They will perish because they did not welcome and love the truth so as to be saved.
13 We must thank God at all times for you, friends, you whom the Lord loves. For God chose you as the [very beginning//first] to be saved by [the purifying work of His Spirit//the Spirit's power to make you his holy people] and by your [belief//faith] in the truth.