4:1 When the enemies of Judah and Benjamin learned that the former exiles were building a temple for the Lord God of Israel, 2they came to Zerubbabel and the leaders and said to them, “Let us help you build, for like you we seek your God and we have been sacrificing to him from the time of King Esarhaddon of Assyria, who brought us here.” 3But Zerubbabel, Jeshua, and the rest of the leaders of Israel said to them, “You have no right to help us build the temple of our God. We will build it by ourselves for the Lord God of Israel, just as King Cyrus, the king of Persia, has commanded us.” 4Then the local people began to discourage the people of Judah and to dishearten them from building. 5They were hiring advisers to oppose them, so as to frustrate their plans, throughout the time of King Cyrus of Persia until the reign of King Darius of Persia.
6 At the beginning of the reign of Ahasuerus they filed an accusation against the inhabitants of Judah and Jerusalem. 7And during the reign of Artaxerxes, Bishlam, Mithredath, Tabeel, and the rest of their colleagues wrote to King Artaxerxes of Persia. This letter was first written in Aramaic but then translated.
[What follows is in Aramaic.]
8Rehum the commander and Shimshai the scribe wrote a letter concerning Jerusalem to King Artaxerxes as follows: 9From Rehum the commander, Shimshai the scribe, and the rest of their colleagues—the judges, the rulers, the officials, the secretaries, the Erechites, the Babylonians, the people of Susa (that is, the Elamites), 10and the rest of the nations whom the great and noble Ashurbanipal deported and settled in the cities of Samaria and other places in Trans-Euphrates. 11(This is a copy of the letter they sent to him.)
“To King Artaxerxes, from your servants in Trans-Euphrates: 12Now let the king be aware that the Jews who came up to us from you have gone to Jerusalem. They are rebuilding that rebellious and odious city. They are completing its walls and repairing its foundations. 13Let the king also be aware that if this city is built and its walls are completed, no more tax, custom, or toll will be paid, and the royal treasury will suffer loss. 14In light of the fact that we are loyal to the king, and since it does not seem appropriate to us that the king should sustain damage, we are sending the king this information 15so that he may initiate a search of the records of his predecessors and discover in those records that this city is rebellious and injurious to both kings and provinces, producing internal revolts from long ago. It is for this very reason that this city was destroyed. 16We therefore are informing the king that if this city is rebuilt and its walls are completed, you will not retain control of this portion of Trans-Euphrates.”(NET Bible)
109:1 For the music director, a psalm of David.
O God whom I praise, do not ignore me.
2For they say cruel and deceptive things to me;
they lie to me.
3They surround me and say hateful things;
they attack me for no reason.
4They repay my love with accusations,
but I continue to pray.
5They repay me evil for good
and hate for love.
6 Appoint an evil man to testify against him.
May an accuser stand at his right side.
7When he is judged, he will be found guilty.
Then his prayer will be regarded as sinful.
8May his days be few.
May another take his job.
9May his children be fatherless,
and his wife a widow.
10May his children roam around begging,
asking for handouts as they leave their ruined home.
11May the creditor seize all he owns.
May strangers loot his property.
12May no one show him kindness.
May no one have compassion on his fatherless children.
13May his descendants be cut off.
May the memory of them be wiped out by the time the next generation arrives.
14May his ancestors’ sins be remembered by the Lord.
May his mother’s sin not be forgotten.
15May the Lord be constantly aware of them
and cut off the memory of his children from the earth.
16For he never bothered to show kindness;
he harassed the oppressed and needy
and killed the disheartened.
17He loved to curse others, so those curses have come upon him.
He had no desire to bless anyone, so he has experienced no blessings.
18He made cursing a way of life,
so curses poured into his stomach like water
and seeped into his bones like oil.
19May a curse attach itself to him, like a garment one puts on,
or a belt one wears continually.
20May the Lord repay my accusers in this way,
those who say evil things about me.(NET Bible)
1:19 Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters! Let every person be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger. 20For human anger does not accomplish God’s righteousness. 21So put away all filth and evil excess and humbly welcome the message implanted within you, which is able to save your souls. 22But be sure you live out the message and do not merely listen to it and so deceive yourselves. 23For if someone merely listens to the message and does not live it out, he is like someone who gazes at his own face in a mirror. 24For he gazes at himself and then goes out and immediately forgets what sort of person he was. 25But the one who peers into the perfect law of liberty and fixes his attention there, and does not become a forgetful listener but one who lives it out—he will be blessed in what he does. 26If someone thinks he is religious yet does not bridle his tongue, and so deceives his heart, his religion is futile. 27Pure and undefiled religion before God the Father is this: to care for orphans and widows in their adversity and to keep oneself unstained by the world.(NET Bible)
[Luther] had previously expressed himself in a similar fashion in his sermons on Genesis of the year 1527. In these he said: “I have often said that anyone who wishes to study Holy Scripture shall see to it that he sticks to the simple meaning of the words, as far as possible, and does not depart from them unless he be compelled to do so by some article of the faith that would demand another meaning than the literal one. For we must be sure that there is no plainer speech on earth than that which God has spoken. Therefore, when Moses writes that God in six days created heaven and earth and all that therein is, let it so remain that there were six days, and you dare not find an explanation that six days were one day. Give the Holy Ghost the honor of being wiser that yourself, for you should so deal with Scripture that you believe that God Himself is speaking. Since it is God who is speaking, it is not fitting frivolously to twist His words to mean what you want them to mean, unless necessity should compel a departure from their literal meaning, namely when faith does not permit the literal meaning.” (51)
–Johann Michael Reu, Luther on the Scriptures
This daily Bible reading guide, Reading the Word of God, was conceived and prepared as a result of the ongoing discussions between representatives of three church bodies: Lutheran Church—Canada (LCC), The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) and the North American Lutheran Church (NALC). The following individuals have represented their church bodies and approved this introduction and the reading guide: LCC: President Robert Bugbee; NALC: Bishop John Bradosky, Revs. Mark Chavez, James Nestingen, and David Wendel; LCMS: Revs. Albert Collver, Joel Lehenbauer, John Pless, and Larry Vogel.