Revelation 11; Esther 1; Psalm 105:1-25

Revelation 11

The Two Witnesses

1 Then I was given a measuring reed like a rod, with these words: "Go and measure God's sanctuary and the altar, and [count] those who worship there. 2 But exclude the courtyard outside the sanctuary. Don't measure it, because it is given to the nations, and they will trample the holy city for 42 months. 3 I will empower my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for 1,260 days, dressed in sackcloth." 4 These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands that stand before the Lord of the earth. 5 If anyone wants to harm them, fire comes from their mouths and consumes their enemies; if anyone wants to harm them, he must be killed in this way. 6 These men have the power to close the sky so that it does not rain during the days of their prophecy. They also have power over the waters to turn them into blood, and to strike the earth with any plague whenever they want.

The Witnesses Martyred

7 When they finish their testimony, the beast that comes up out of the abyss will make war with them, conquer them, and kill them. 8 Their dead bodies will lie in the public square of the great city, which is called, prophetically, Sodom and Egypt, where also their Lord was crucified. 9 And representatives from the peoples, tribes, languages, and nations will view their bodies for three and a half days and not permit their bodies to be put into a tomb. 10 Those who live on the earth will gloat over them and celebrate and send gifts to one another, because these two prophets tormented those who live on the earth.

The Witnesses Resurrected

11 But after the three and a half days, the breath of life from God entered them, and they stood on their feet. So great fear fell on those who saw them. 12 Then they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, "Come up here." They went up to heaven in a cloud, while their enemies watched them. 13 At that moment a violent earthquake took place, a tenth of the city fell, and 7,000 people were killed in the earthquake. The survivors were terrified and gave glory to the God of heaven. 14 The second woe has passed. Take note: the third woe is coming quickly!

The Seventh Trumpet

15 The seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven saying: The kingdom of the world has become the [kingdom] of our Lord and of His Messiah, and He will reign forever and ever! 16 The 24 elders, who were seated before God on their thrones, fell on their faces and worshiped God, 17 saying: We thank You, Lord God, the Almighty, who is and who was, because You have taken Your great power and have begun to reign. 18 The nations were angry, but Your wrath has come. The time has come for the dead to be judged, and to give the reward to Your servants the prophets, to the saints, and to those who fear Your name, both small and great, and the time has come to destroy those who destroy the earth. 19 God's sanctuary in heaven was opened, and the ark of His covenant appeared in His sanctuary. There were lightnings, rumblings, thunders, an earthquake, and severe hail.

Esther 1

Vashti Angers the King

1 These events took place during the days of Ahasuerus,who ruled 127 provinces from India to Cush. 2 In those days King Ahasuerus reigned from his royal throne in the fortress at Susa. 3 He held a feast in the third year of his reign for all his officials and staff, the army of Persia and Media, the nobles, and the officials from the provinces. 4 He displayed the glorious wealth of his kingdom and the magnificent splendor of his greatness for a total of 180 days. 5 At the end of this time, the king held a week-long banquet in the garden courtyard of the royal palace for all the people, from the greatest to the least, who were present in the fortress of Susa. 6 White and violet linen hangings were fastened with fine white and purple linen cords to silver rods on marble columns. Gold and silver couches [were arranged] on a mosaic pavement of red feldspar, marble, mother-of-pearl, and precious stones. 7 Beverages were served in an array of gold goblets, each with a different design. Royal wine flowed freely, according to the king's bounty 8 and no restraint was placed on the drinking. The king had ordered every wine steward in his household to serve as much as each person wanted. 9 Queen Vashti also gave a feast for the women of King Ahasuerus' palace. 10 On the seventh day, when the king was feeling good from the wine, Ahasuerus commanded Mehuman, Biztha, Harbona, Bigtha, Abagtha, Zethar, and Carkas, the seven eunuchs who personally served him, 11 to bring Queen Vashti before him with her royal crown. [He wanted] to show off her beauty to the people and the officials, because she was very beautiful. 12 But Queen Vashti refused to come at the king's command that was delivered by his eunuchs. The king became furious and his anger burned within him.

The King's Decree

13 The king consulted the wise men who understood the times,for it was his normal procedure to confer with experts in law and justice. 14 The most trusted ones were Carshena, Shethar, Admatha, Tarshish, Meres, Marsena, and Memucan. They were the seven officials of Persia and Media who had personal access to the king and occupied the highest positions in the kingdom. 15 [The king asked,] "According to the law, what should be done with Queen Vashti, since she refused to obey King Ahasuerus' command that was delivered by the eunuchs?" 16 Memucan said in the presence of the king and his officials, "Queen Vashti has defied not only the king, but all the officials and the peoples who are in every one of King Ahasuerus' provinces. 17 For the queen's action will become public knowledge to all the women and cause them to despise their husbands and say, 'King Ahasuerus ordered Queen Vashti brought before him, but she did not come.' 18 [Before] this day [is over], the noble women of Persia and Media who hear about the queen's act will say [the same thing] to all the king's officials, resulting in more contempt and fury. 19 "If it meets the king's approval, he should personally issue a royal decree. Let it be recorded in the laws of Persia and Media, so that it cannot be revoked: Vashti is not to enter King Ahasuerus' presence, and her royal position is to be given to another woman who is more worthy than she. 20 The decree the king issues will be heard throughout his vast kingdom, so all women will honor their husbands, from the least to the greatest." 21 The king and his counselors approved the proposal, and he followed Memucan's advice. 22 He sent letters to all the royal provinces, to each province in its own script and to each ethnic group in its own language, that every man should be master of his own house and speak in the language of his own people.

Psalm 105:1-25

God's Faithfulness to His People

1 Give thanks to the Lord, call on His name; proclaim His deeds among the peoples. 2 Sing to Him, sing praise to Him; tell about all His wonderful works! 3 Honor His holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice. 4 Search for the Lord and for His strength; seek His face always. 5 Remember the wonderful works He has done, His wonders, and the judgments He has pronounced, 6 you offspring of Abraham His servant, Jacob's descendants -His chosen ones. 7 He is the Lord our God; His judgments [govern] the whole earth. 8 He forever remembers His covenant, the promise He ordained for a thousand generations- 9 [the covenant] He made with Abraham, swore to Isaac, 10 and confirmed to Jacob as a decree and to Israel as an everlasting covenant: 11 "I will give the land of Canaan to you as your inherited portion." 12 When they were few in number, very few indeed, and temporary residents in Canaan, 13 wandering from nation to nation and from one kingdom to another, 14 He allowed no one to oppress them; He rebuked kings on their behalf: 15 "Do not touch My anointed ones, or harm My prophets." 16 He called down famine against the land and destroyed the entire food supply. 17 He had sent a man ahead of them- Joseph, who was sold as a slave. 18 They hurt his feet with shackles; his neck was put in an iron collar. 19 Until the time his prediction came true, the word of the Lord tested him. 20 The king sent [for him] and released him; the ruler of peoples set him free. 21 He made him master of his household, ruler over all his possessions- 22 binding his officials at will and instructing his elders. 23 Then Israel went to Egypt; Jacob lived as a foreigner in the land of Ham. 24 The Lord made His people very fruitful; He made them more numerous than their foes, 25 whose hearts He turned to hate His people and to deal deceptively with His servants.
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