In our study of Ezra chapter five, we see how the remnant of God's people decided to listen and obey God even in the face of opposition.
Now Haggai the prophet and Zechariah the prophet, a descendant of Iddo, prophesied to the Jews in Judah and Jerusalem in the name of the God of Israel, who was over them.
At the end of chapter four, we saw that the work on the temple had been halted because of a decree by King Artaxerxes. During this time, the exiles had went to their own places and built their own houses. Haggai and Zechariah were prophets that God sent to get them back to rebuilding the temple. (If you have not done so, it would be a good time to study the books of those prophets.)
Then Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel and Jeshua son of Jozadak set to work to rebuild the house of God in Jerusalem. And the prophets of God were with them, helping them.
The political (Zerubbabel) and religious (Jeshua) leaders listened to the prophets and went back to work on the rebuilding of the temple.
At that time Tattenai, governor of Trans-Euphrates, and Shethar-Bozenai and their associates went to them and asked, 'Who authorized you to rebuild this temple and restore this structure?' They also asked, 'What are the names of the men constructing this building?'
Once again, the opposition showed up in hopes of stopping the work of God.
But the eye of their God was watching over the elders of the Jews, and they were not stopped until a report could go to Darius and his written reply be received.
This time, they held fast and were able to continue the work while they waited on a ruling from the king. They had learned that it is best to listen to God and trust in Him. It is a good reminder for us as well that, when God tells you to do something, He will be there to watch over you.
This is a copy of the letter that Tattenai, governor of Trans-Euphrates, and Shethar-Bozenai and their associates, the officials of Trans-Euphrates, sent to King Darius. The report they sent him read as follows: To King Darius: Cordial greetings.
Once again, the opposition got the government involved and sent this letter to the king.
The king should know that we went to the district of Judah, to the temple of the great God. The people are building it with large stones and placing the timbers in the walls. The work is being carried on with diligence and is making rapid progress under their direction. We questioned the elders and asked them, 'Who authorized you to rebuild this temple and restore this structure?' We also asked them their names, so that we could write down the names of their leaders for your information.
Their report informed the king that the people were focused on their task and making rapid progress. (We must remember that they had been given a pretty strong message from God by the prophets.) They were asked their names in hopes that the king would authorize the opposition to round them up and to stop the progress.
This is the answer they gave us: 'We are the servants of the God of heaven and earth, and we are rebuilding the temple that was built many years ago, one that a great king of Israel built and finished. But because our fathers angered the God of heaven, he handed them over to Nebuchadnezzar the Chaldean, king of Babylon, who destroyed this temple and deported the people to Babylon.'
Instead of giving them a list of names, the exiles had given them a short history lesson. They recalled the fact that Israel had once had a great king but, because of God's judgment, they had been handed over to the Babylonians.
'However, in the first year of Cyrus king of Babylon, King Cyrus issued a decree to rebuild this house of God. He even removed from the temple of Babylon the gold and silver articles of the house of God, which Nebuchadnezzar had taken from the temple in Jerusalem and brought to the temple in Babylon. Then King Cyrus gave them to a man named Sheshbazzar, whom he had appointed governor, and he told him, "Take these articles and go and deposit them in the temple in Jerusalem. And rebuild the house of God on its site." So this Sheshbazzar came and laid the foundations of the house of God in Jerusalem. From that day to the present it has been under construction but it is not yet finished.'
The exiles continue to explain that their work has been decreed by the former king of Babylon. They point out the fact that, not only did the king authorize the reconstruction, but he had even sent the holy articles for service back to the temple.
Now if it please the king, let a search be made in the royal archives of Babylon to see if King Cyrus did in fact issue a decree to rebuild this house of God in Jerusalem. Then let the king send us his decision in this matter.
A decree of the king (even a previous king that was dead) could not be changed once it was issued. These politicians knew that and hoped that there was no such law on record. Even while this political stuff was going on, God's people continued in His work of rebuilding the temple. That is a good lesson for us, today, as well. We often see all kinds of political stuff going on that we can clearly see is against the will of God. During these times, we can choose to worry about the political stuff or we can focus on the task that God has given us.