Day 355 of the Holy Bible One Year CHALLENGE. Ezra writes to the King of Persia. Revelation 13: Mark of the Beast 666
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King Artaxerxes’ Letter to Ezra
11 Ezra was a priest and teacher. He knew much about the commands and laws that the LORD gave Israel. This is a copy of the letter King Artaxerxes gave to Ezra the teacher:
12 ¶From King Artaxerxes,
To Ezra the priest, a teacher of the law of the God of heaven:
13 I give this order: any of the Israelites living in my kingdom, including priests and Levites, who want to go with you to Jerusalem, may go.
14 I and my seven advisers send you to Judah and Jerusalem. Go and see how your people are doing in obeying the law of your God. You have that law with you.
15 I and my advisers are giving gold and silver to the God of Is- rael, who lives in Jerusalem. You must take this gold and silver with you. 16 You must also go through all the territories of Babylonia. Col- lect the gifts from your people, from the priests and from the Levites. The gifts are for the Temple of their God in Jerusalem.
17 Use this money to buy bulls, rams and lambs. Buy the grain offerings and drink offerings that go with these sacrifices. Then sacrifice them on the altar in the Temple of your God in Jerusalem. 18 Then you and the other priests may spend the silver and gold left over in any way you want. Use it in a way that is pleasing to your God. 19 Take all these things to the God of Jerusalem. They are for the worship in the Temple of your God. 20 And you may get any other things that you need for the Temple of your God. Use the money in the king’s treasury to buy anything else you need.
21 Now I, King Artaxerxes, give this order: I order all the men who keep the king’s money in the area west of the Euphrates River to give Ezra anything he wants. Ezra is a priest and a teacher of the Law of the God of heaven. Do this quickly and completely. 22 Give this much to Ezra: 3400 kilograms of silver, 10,000 kilogrammes† of wheat, 2200 litres‡ of wine, 2200 liters of olive oil, and as much salt as Ezra wants. 23 Anything that the God of heaven has ordered for his Temple, you must give to Ezra quickly and completely. We don’t want the God of heaven to be angry with my kingdom or my sons.
24 I want you men to know that it is against the law to make the priests, Levites, singers, gate-keepers, Temple servants and other workers in God’s Temple pay taxes. They don’t have to pay taxes, money to honor the king or any customs fees. 25 Ezra, I give you the authority to use the wisdom you have from your God to choose civil and religious judges. These men will be
judges for all the people living in the area west of the Euphrates River. They will judge all the people who know the laws of your God, and they will teach those who don’t know those laws. 26 Anyone who does not obey the law of your God, or the law of the king, must be punished. Depending on the crime, they must be punished with death or sent away to another country, or their property taken away or be put into prison.
Ezra Praises God for the King’s Letter
27 “Praise the LORD, the God of our ancestors. He put the idea into the king’s heart to honor the LORD’s Temple in Jerusalem. 28 God showed his faithful love to me for all to see. And because the king, his advisers, and the king’s important officials saw this, they were willing to help. The LORD my God was with me, and that gave me courage. So I gathered some leaders from Israel to return to Jerusalem with me.”
List of Leaders Returning With Ezra
These are the names of the family leaders and the other people who
came with me to Jerusalem from Baby- lon. We came to Jerusalem during the rule of King Artaxerxes. Here is the list of names:
2 from the descendants of Phinehas:
Gershom; from the descendants of Ithamar: Daniel; from the descendants of David: Hattush;
3 from the descendants of Shecaniah: the
descendants of Parosh, Zechariah and 150 other men;
4 from the descendants of Pahath Moab: Eliehoenai son of Zerahiah and 200 other men;
5 from the descendants of Zattu: Sheca-
niah son of Jahaziel and 300 other men;
6 from the descendants of Adin: Ebed son
of Jonathan and 50 other men;
7 from the descendants of Elam: Jeshaiah son of Athaliah and 70 other men;
8 from the descendants of Shephatiah:
Zebadiah son of Michael and 80 other men;
9 from the descendants of Joab: Obadiah
son of Jehiel and 218 other men;
10 from the descendants of Bani: Shelomith son of Josiphiah and 160 other men;
11 from the descendants of Bebai:
Zechariah son of Bebai and 28 other men;
12 from the descendants of Azgad: Jo-
hanan son of Hakkatan and 110 other men;
13 from the descendants of Adonikam
(the last family to leave): Eliphelet, Jeuel, Shemaiah and 60 other men;
14 from the descendants of Bigvai: Uthai,
Zaccur and 70 other men.
The Beast From the Sea
Then I saw a beast coming up out of the sea. It had ten horns and seven heads. There was a crown on each of its horns. And there were insults using God’s name written on each head. 2 This beast looked like a leopard, with feet like a bear’s feet. It had a mouth like a lion’s mouth. The dragon gave the beast all of its power and its throne and great authority.
3 One of the heads of the beast looked as if it had been wounded and killed, but the death wound was healed. All the people in the world were amazed, and they all followed the beast. 4 People worshipped the dragon because it had given its power to the beast, and they also worshipped the beast. They asked, “Who is as powerful as the beast? Who can make war against it?”
5 The beast was allowed to boast and speak insults against God. It was allowed to use its power for 42 months. 6 The beast opened its mouth to insult God— to insult his name, the place where he lives, and all those who live in heaven. 7 It was given power to make war against God’s holy people and to defeat them. It was given power over every tribe, race of people, language and nation. 8 Every- one living on earth would worship the beast. These are all the people since the beginning of the world whose names are not written in the Lamb’s book of life. The Lamb is the one who was killed.
9 Anyone who hears these things
should listen to this:
10 Whoever is to be a prisoner, will be a prisoner.
Whoever is to be killed with a sword, will be killed with a sword.
This means that God’s holy people must have patience and faith.
The Beast From the Earth
11 Then I saw another beast coming up out of the earth. He had two horns like a lamb, but he talked like a dragon. 12 This beast stood before the first beast and used the same power the first beast had. He used this power to make everyone living on the earth worship the first beast. The first beast was the one that had the death wound that was healed. 13 The second beast did great miracles. He even made fire come down from heaven to earth while people were watching.
14 This second beast fooled the people living on earth by using the miracles that he had been given the power to do for the first beast. He ordered peo- ple to make an idol to honour the first beast, the one that was wounded by the sword but came back to life. 15 The second beast was given power to give life to the idol of the first beast. Then the idol could speak and order all those who did not worship it to be killed. 16 The second beast also forced all people, small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to have a mark put on their right hand or on their forehead. 17 No one could buy or sell without this mark. (This mark is the name of the beast or the number of its name.)
18 Anyone who has understanding can find the meaning of the beast’s number. This requires wisdom. This number is the number of a man. It is 666.
Your kingdom will never end,
and you will rule forever.
The Lord can be trusted in all that he says.
He is loyal in all that he does.
14 The Lord lifts up people who have fallen.
He helps those who are in trouble.
15 All living things look to you for their food,
and you give them their food at the right time.
16 You open your hands
and give every living thing all that it needs.
17 Everything the Lord does is good.
Everything he does shows how loyal he is.
18 The Lord is near to everyone
who sincerely calls to him for help.
19 He listens to his followers and does what they want.
He answers their prayers and saves them.
20 The Lord protects everyone who loves him,
but he destroys all who do evil.
21 I will praise the Lord!
Let everyone praise his holy name forever and ever!
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