King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table pursued one quest: the Holy Grail. For some of the knights, it cost them their lives, as this video shows.
All of us pursue a quest, some noble and some not so noble.
But what is the greatest quest of all?
Please join us as we explore it in our Daily Bible Conversation.
INSIGHTS AND EXPLANATIONS
Ezra 1:1-2:70. At the end of 2 Chronicles, Babylon, under the leadership of King Nebuchadnezzar, invaded and destroyed Jerusalem. Seventy years later, King Cyrus gave permission to the Israelites who were in captivity to rebuild the temple. The book of Ezra begins where 2 Chronicles ends. In 538 B.C., Zerubbabel led a contingent of Israelites back to Jerusalem—which was prophesied by Isaiah (Isaiah 44:28).
With the encouragement of Haggai and Zechariah, the temple was rebuilt.
In a departure from previous kings, Cyrus of Persia maintained a policy of respect for the religions of his captive nations. He believed that treating his captives fairly and allowing them to worship according to their native customs would keep his empire intact. His use of the term “God of heaven” is a term used from his native Zoroastrianism religion. King Cyrus also appears in the book of Daniel.
1 Corinthians 1:18-2:5. This section is rich in meaning…
Rather than communicate the gospel as a dynamic speaker—which would draw attention to himself—Paul chose to avoid the conventions of most speakers in his day in order to preach the message of the Christ crucified, which he believed had inherent power. The idea of a crucified god was an affront to the people of his day.
And it’s still an affront to people today. Followers of Jesus gravitate toward what a former senior pastor of mine calls a “kick-ass messiah.” We want a Jesus who resembles Superman. We want to be the church triumphant. We want to dominate the culture. But that’s not Christ.
In the same way, most people (it seems to me) who don’t claim to be followers of Christ believe they need to be a good person in order to get to heaven. To receive salvation based on what Christ has done as opposed to what we’ve done is an affront as well. We don’t have to “do” anything to receive salvation. All we must “do” is believe. This doesn’t seem fair to many because it levels the playing field between “good” people and career criminals. “Good” people can go to hell and career criminals can go to heaven—if the criminals confess their sins to Jesus and ask him to save them.
God chose “foolishness” to confound the “wise.”
Proverbs 20:22. “Do not say, ‘I’ll pay you back for this wrong!’ Wait for the Lord, and he will deliver you.” Vengeance, in its many forms, communicates our lack of trust in God to defend and deliver us. While most people may not use physical means to take revenge, we can do it in more passive ways like slander, gossip, and passive aggression. Even unforgiveness and bitterness.
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THE WORD MADE FRESH
It seems readily apparent that we find whatever we seek. When I look for my wife’s car keys (a daily occurrence), I expect to find them. I don’t expect to find her missing cell phone. If I don’t look for her car keys, I likely won’t find them. Of course, it’s always wise to begin with the refrigerator, but that’s another story for another day.
All that to say: our quest leads us to what we seek.
From reading Psalm 27, we can tell David was in a pretty difficult situation. He was on the run from his enemies and he needed deliverance. What was his quest?
One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple (verse 4)
My heart says of you, “Seek his face!” Your face, Lord, I will seek (verse 8).
What was David’s quest? He was seeking God’s face.
To seek God’s face can also be translated “to come into his presence.” It far surpasses the mastery of information about a person. It transcends a conversation on the phone. It’s a face-to-face encounter with the holy God who loves us.
Seeking God’s face requires patience, waiting, and listening. It means seeking God for who he is more than what he can do for us.
Our relationship with God consists of more than a daily Bible reading or a checklist of prayer requests.
While God is everywhere, David recognized that God makes his presence known to people who seek him. So David sought him.
What is your quest?
You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.
What spoke to you in today’s reading?
What is your quest? (Be honest!)
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Michael co-pastors The Neighborhood Church with Eugene Scott in Littleton, Colorado.