Peter Misselbrook's Blog
Nov 9 2019 - Ezra 5 – The letter to Darius

The rebuilding of the temple had been stopped through local opposition and imperial decree. But this would not be the end of the story. Ezra chapter 5 introduces us to two Old Testament prophets, Haggai and Zechariah, whose prophetic writings we will look at in a few days' time. The preaching of these men inspired the rebuilding work to be resumed under the able leadership of Zerubbabel and his colleagues.

There are many who seek to discourage, damage or destroy the work of God in building his kingdom, but the preaching of God's word can provide strength and encouragement to the people of God, enabling them to persist with the work of God even in the face of opposition.

The builders did not have to wait long for renewed opposition, or at least questioning. Tattenai had been appointed by Persia as governor of this part of their empire. He was probably well aware of the imperial decree that had halted work on the temple and now demanded to know who had authorised that the work should be resumed. He also took down a list of the names of those leading the building work so that he could send a detailed report to King Darius in Persia.

In his letter to King Darius, Tattenai reports that the builders had told him that a great king of Israel (Solomon) had built the temple for the worship of the God of heaven and earth. It had been destroyed by the Babylonians because of Israel's unfaithfulness to the living God. But when Cyrus had defeated Babylon and made it part of the Persian empire, he had issued a decree that the exiled Jews might return to their own land and that they were to rebuild the temple. Cyrus had even returned the articles of silver and gold taken from the temple so that they could be used in the one they were now building. Tattenai requests that a search be made of the royal archives to see if this decree can be unearthed and for King Darius to then send his decision regarding the rebuilding.

The former search of the archives had shown that Jerusalem had been a troublesome and rebellious city and for this reason was destroyed. None of this was denied by those now building the temple. What will this new search reveal?

A search of our own history would no doubt reveal an inconsistent story. We also have been rebels against God and deserving of his judgment, but God has also shown his great love and compassion towards us in the Lord Jesus; he saved us and made us his own. Our history as disciples of the Lord Jesus has probably also been inconsistent. There have been times when opposition and scorn have discouraged us and maybe even silenced our testimony; we have retired from the work of building his kingdom. But God's Spirit, breathing through his word, stirs up in us a renewed passion for the work of the kingdom and the glory of the Saviour.

Give me the faith which can remove
and sink the mountain to a plain;
give me the childlike praying love,
which longs to build thy house again;
thy love, let it my heart o'er-power,
and all my simple soul devour.

Father God, we thank you that the judgment due to our rebellion against you fell on the Lord Jesus. We thank you that there is no more condemnation for us; we are forgiven and are embraced by your love. May your word continue to speak to our heart and your Spirit fill us with joy and peace in believing. Help us particularly to trust you in those times when we face discouragement and opposition that we may go on serving you in the knowledge that our labour is not in vain in the Lord.

Peter Misselbrook