September 19: Ezra 4-6 & Psalm 137
4 Then the people of the land discouraged the people of Judah and made them afraid to build 5 and bribed counselors against them to frustrate their purpose, all the days of Cyrus king of Persia, even until the reign of Darius king of Persia.
6 And in the reign of Ahasuerus, in the beginning of his reign, they wrote an accusation against the inhabitants of Judah and Jerusalem.
“To Artaxerxes the king: Your servants, the men of the province Beyond the River, send greeting. And now 12 be it known to the king that the Jews who came up from you to us have gone to Jerusalem. They are rebuilding that rebellious and wicked city. They are finishing the walls and repairing the foundations. 13 Now be it known to the king that if this city is rebuilt and the walls finished, they will not pay tribute, custom, or toll, and the royal revenue will be impaired.
17 The king sent an answer . . . 21 Therefore make a decree that these men be made to cease, and that this city be not rebuilt, until a decree is made by me.
Ezra 4:17a & 21
2 Then Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel and Jeshua the son of Jozadak arose and began to rebuild the house of God that is in Jerusalem, and the prophets of God were with them, supporting them.
“To Darius the king, all peace. 8 Be it known to the king that we went to the province of Judah, to the house of the great God. It is being built with huge stones, and timber is laid in the walls. This work goes on diligently and prospers in their hands.
7 Let the work on this house of God alone. Let the governor of the Jews and the elders of the Jews rebuild this house of God on its site. 8 Moreover, I make a decree regarding what you shall do for these elders of the Jews for the rebuilding of this house of God. The cost is to be paid to these men in full and without delay from the royal revenue, the tribute of the province from Beyond the River. 9 And whatever is needed—bulls, rams, or sheep for burnt offerings to the God of heaven, wheat, salt, wine, or oil, as the priests at Jerusalem require—let that be given to them day by day without fail, 10 that they may offer pleasing sacrifices to the God of heaven and pray for the life of the king and his sons.
Solomon said in the book of Ecclesiastes, "There is nothing new under the sun." Today's reading certainly is proof of that. We just left Ezra 3 in yesterday's reading with the people shouting and weeping in praise to God for His answer to their prayers. Yet, here we are in the very next chapter witnessing accusations made against the Jewish people for rebuilding the temple. (For a more complete account of today's reading I would suggest that you read the entire portion of Ezra 4-6.)
However, look how God worked on behalf of His people through the reigns of several kings. Cyrus issued the decree that the temple be rebuilt; Darius issued the decree that the building of the temple be stopped. Then Artaxerxes, the king, issued another decree that the rebuilding of the temple should cease after the people had ignored the decree of Darius. But, God did an amazing thing.
Artaxerxes commanded his people to search through the records to see if Cyrus had, indeed, made a decree that the temple should be rebuilt as the Jewish people had stated. Of course, you know what he found!
I love the end of this matter. This time, Artaxerxes commanded that not only should the rebuilding of the temple be allowed, but that money should be given to the Jewish people out of the king's treasuries to purchase supplies for the building as well as bulls, rams, or sheep to be used for their burnt offerings.
But, that was not all! He further decreed that if anyone tried to stop the work of the rebuilding, he should be impaled upon a beam pulled from his own house! In other words, God used the accusations of His enemies to produce results that would actually aid in the work of rebuilding His temple.
Just think about that as you go about your duties of this day--events that seem bad to us may actually be a case of God using the accusations of His enemies to further the building of His own Kingdom.
To God, alone, be all praise and glory!
God Bless You,
All Scriptures are from the Enlish Standard Version of the Bible.