- Ezra 4:6-6:13
From 536 to 522 B.C., construction of the temple was stopped. This happened for at least three reasons. First, the governing officials of Persia objected to Darius king of Persia. They wrote to Darius that they were afraid that if the walls and temple of Jerusalem were rebuilt, the people would rebel against the king as their forefathers had a history of doing. Second, the other inhabitants of the land did everything possible to frustrate the Israelites and prevent progress on the city’s repairs. And third, the Israelites who had resettled in their homeland were more concerned with improving their own houses than they were with rebuilding GOD’s house.
Haggai and Zechariah the prophets prophesied to the Jews in Jerusalem in the name of GOD. Zerubbabel and Jeshua resumed work rebuilding the temple along with the prophets’ help. A second letter was sent to king Darius by the governor of the territory requesting instruction as to whether the construction should be allowed. Darius had someone check the archives and verified where king Cyrus had decreed that the temple was to be rebuilt with funds from the Persian royal treasury. Therefore Darius instructed the governor to allow the construction and to provide daily the needs of the workers to ensure the task was completed “with diligence.“
We can learn several important lessons from this text, but let’s focus on this one: When GOD tells us to do something—as He had done with rebuilding the temple—it is our job to obey despite any attempts by men to persuade us not to obey GOD. The apostles would put it this way centuries later, when they were told not to tell anyone else about Jesus:
…“We ought to obey God rather than men.
(Acts 5:29 NKJV)
When GOD tells us to do something, He will make a way for us to do it. This is exactly what He did in this situation. The Israelites were attempting to obey GOD but the government got in the way, so GOD removed that roadblock through a letter from the Persian king. The Israelites needed money to fund the project, so GOD provided it through the Persian royal treasury. And the Israelites needed leadership to guide them successfully through the project, so GOD provided prophets Haggai and Zechariah, a project manager Zerubbabel, and daily supplies and support through Tattenai, the Persian governor.
GOD will make a way for us to obey Him today as well. It won’t be easy, but He’ll show us the way when we have a willing heart.