Beware Fractious Frustraters

February 3, 2014 at 1:16 pm | Posted in The Fives | 3 Comments
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Haggai and Zechariah preached words of encouragement to the Jews that had returned from Babylon to try to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem. This served to motivate them to work hard to finish, which in turn stirred up troubling opposition. A governor named Tatnai and his companions tried their best to frustrate the Jewish workers.

Why did their harassment fail to stop the work? It was because the Jewish leaders recognized they were being watched by Someone greater and more powerful than any earthly governor.

But the eye of their God was upon the elders of the Jews, that they could not cause them to cease, till the matter came to Darius: and then they returned answer by letter concerning this matter.

Ezra 5:5

God is omniscient and omnipresent, so there is really no place that anyone can go where He does not see. However, God’s children have a special sense of His eyes being upon them. The Latin term, coram Deo, meaning “before the face of God” is a shorthand way of expressing the idea that we should all live our lives as though God was observing us with keen interest – for He certainly is!

Different Levels of Separation

September 23, 2013 at 1:05 pm | Posted in Ezra | 2 Comments
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Now when the adversaries of Judah and Benjamin heard that the children of the captivity builded the temple unto the Lord God of Israel; Then they came to Zerubbabel, and to the chief of the fathers, and said unto them, Let us build with you: for we seek your God, as ye do; and we do sacrifice unto him since the days of Esarhaddon king of Assur, which brought us up hither. But Zerubbabel, and Jeshua, and the rest of the chief of the fathers of Israel, said unto them, Ye have nothing to do with us to build an house unto our God; but we ourselves together will build unto the Lord God of Israel, as king Cyrus the king of Persia hath commanded us.

Ezra 4:1-3

The return from exile by believers excites opposition from the enemies of God. Exiled believers can benefit greatly from the prayers, support, and even advice of Christian brothers and sisters, but we must be careful of bringing insurgents into the midst of the family of God. There were some Samaritans who wanted to ride along – without Godly intentions – on the coattails of God’s returning people. Christians must interact with worldly people, but we must not partake in their sinful activities.

Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you,

II Corinthians 6:14-17

Then ceased the work of the house of God which is at Jerusalem. So it ceased unto the second year of the reign of Darius king of Persia.

Ezra 4:24

It was ungodly fear that caused the work to stop.

Then the people of the land weakened the hands of the people of Judah, and troubled them in building, And hired counsellors against them, to frustrate their purpose, all the days of Cyrus king of Persia, even until the reign of Darius king of Persia.

Ezra 4:4-5

Believers should not be afraid of anything, except God. A person who does not fear God should be afraid of everything else.

Ezra 4:6-23 is a break in the narrative, giving the history of the work of the exiles being attacked. It deals with the rebuilding of the temple, not the city.

Be it known unto the king, that the Jews which came up from thee to us are come unto Jerusalem, building the rebellious and the bad city, and have set up the walls thereof, and joined the foundations.

Ezra 4:12

Ezra 4:12 is the first time in the Bible the people of Judah are called “Jews.”

In Ezra Chapter 5 the Lord sends preachers to get the people to stop working on their own houses, and to re-start doing the work of God

Then the prophets, Haggai the prophet, and Zechariah the son of Iddo, prophesied unto the Jews that were in Judah and Jerusalem in the name of the God of Israel, even unto them. Then rose up Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Jeshua the son of Jozadak, and began to build the house of God which is at Jerusalem: and with them were the prophets of God helping them.

Ezra 5:1-2

Haggai and Zechariah were the main prophets.

And the elders of the Jews builded, and they prospered through the prophesying of Haggai the prophet and Zechariah the son of Iddo. And they builded, and finished it, according to the commandment of the God of Israel, and according to the commandment of Cyrus, and Darius, and Artaxerxes king of Persia.

Ezra 6:14

In the kingdom of God, our work is building, not fighting, not celebrating, not boasting – but we must be careful to build on the principles found in the Word of God. Works of God not built on words of God are doomed to fail.

And the children of Israel, the priests, and the Levites, and the rest of the children of the captivity, kept the dedication of this house of God with joy,

Ezra 6:16

The Babylonians had destroyed the temple in 586 B.C. The completion of the work of rebuilding the temple was in 515 B.C., a period of 70 years, fulfilling Jeremiah’s prophecy. Ezra 6:13-18 describes the dedication of the temple in 515 B.C., but the Jewish holiday Hanukkah celebrates the re-dedication in 165 B.C. when the temple had been defiled by gentiles and a group of brave Jewish warriors, led by Judas Maccabeus, recaptured it, cleansed it, and re-dedicated it to the Lord.

And kept the feast of unleavened bread seven days with joy: for the LORD had made them joyful, and turned the heart of the king of Assyria unto them, to strengthen their hands in the work of the house of God, the God of Israel.

Ezra 6:22

Darius is sometimes called the king of Assyria, although we usually refer to him as the king of Persia. Persia had conquered Assyria, so he was king of Persian and king of Assyria. The Jewish people that couldn’t work on the temple because they couldn’t prove their lineage were still welcome to worship and to participate in the dedication of the temple.

And the children of Israel, which were come again out of captivity, and all such as had separated themselves unto them from the filthiness of the heathen of the land, to seek the LORD God of Israel, did eat,

Ezra 6:21

Our position as Christians should be that all who profess an interest in God are welcome in church, even though not everyone is qualified to serve in all ministry positions in the church.

Leading by Example

April 12, 2010 at 10:42 am | Posted in Ezra, Uncategorized | 8 Comments
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The city of Jerusalem was in ruins. The temple there had been destroyed. The city walls were breached and broken. The Jewish people were in captivity in Babylon. Then, one day, God caused a faithful group of His people to return to Jerusalem to undertake the imposing task of rebuilding the walls, repopulating the city, and restoring the temple.

Progress was being made until around 530 B.C. For about 10 years the people were forbidden to continue by the Persian king, Artaxerxes, and they worked on their own houses, rather than the house of God.

Two main factors got God’s people back on track, and motivated them to resume God’s work. One was Godly preaching.

Then the prophets, Haggai the prophet, and Zechariah the son of Iddo, prophesied unto the Jews that were in Judah and Jerusalem in the name of the God of Israel, even unto them.

Ezra 5:1

There is power in the prophesying (preaching) of God’s Word.

The second factor was that the ones doing the preaching were not afraid to get their hands dirty, and set a Godly example by practicing what they prophesied.

Then rose up Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Jeshua the son of Jozadak, and began to build the house of God which is at Jerusalem: and with them were the prophets of God helping them.

Ezra 5:2, emphasis added

Spiritual leaders are often called upon to use their mouths, but they should also be willing to use their backs.


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