In our study of Ezra chapter six, we look at the completion of the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem. In chapter five, we saw the opposition send a letter to the king in hopes of stopping the work. Here, we look at the kings answer and the completion of the work.
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King Darius then issued an order, and they searched in the archives stored in the treasury at Babylon. A scroll was found in the citadel of Ecbatana in the province of Media, and this was written on it: Memorandum:
Upon receiving the letter from Jerusalem, the king ordered a search of the records to look for a decree that had been issued before. When the opposition sent the letter to the king, they were surely not expecting any such order to be found but it was. Ecbatana is the Greek name for the ancient city of Hangmatana in Persian which means "the place of assembly". The city had been the capitol of the Median Empire but, when Cyrus the Great overthrew them, the citadel became a kind of summer home for the kings of Persia. The citadel consisted of seven walls in circles with the wall inside of each circle higher than the one on its outside. Inside of the seventh circle was the palace and the treasure houses of the kingdom. Each wall had a different color with the sixth being silver and the seventh being gold (being associated with royalty). Most of the ancient ruins of the city are covered by the modern town of Hamadan which is located southwest of Tehran in the country of Iran.
In the first year of King Cyrus, the king issued a decree concerning the temple of God in Jerusalem: Let the temple be rebuilt as a place to present sacrifices, and let its foundations be laid.
The scroll not only authorized the temple to be rebuilt but the king had ordered that it be done. This is a reminder to us that God is in control of the affairs of man as He puts leaders in place to fulfill His purposes. This is an example of what Paul was talking about in Romans 13.
It is to be ninety feet high and ninety feet wide, with three courses of large stones and one of timbers. The costs are to be paid by the royal treasury.
The order also stated that the construction was to be paid for by the king. This is a reminder to us that God provides the money and materials to accomplish His will.
Also, the gold and silver articles of the house of God, which Nebuchadnezzar took from the temple in Jerusalem and brought to Babylon, are to be returned to their places in the temple in Jerusalem; they are to be deposited in the house of God.
The decree also returned the things that had been taken from the temple by Nebuchadnezzar. Does it seem like the devil has stolen things from your life? Just as we see here, God can and will restore what has been taken from you.
Now then, Tattenai, governor of Trans-Euphrates, and Shethar-Bozenai and you, their fellow officials of that province, stay away from there. Do not interfere with the work on this temple of God. Let the governor of the Jews and the Jewish elders rebuild this house of God on its site.
King Darius gives orders to the men that had requested the investigation and they must have been shocked to be told to leave the Jews alone. All clear! is the signal that is given to the Jews to continue and complete the construction of the temple. This is a picture of how things are in our Christian walk in that, when God tells you to do something, He will take care of the opposition. Just as the men were still working on the temple, we need to keep walking the walk that God has laid out for us and trust Him to handle the opposition.
Moreover, I hereby decree what you are to do for these elders of the Jews in the construction of this house of God: the expenses of these men are to be fully paid out of the royal treasury, from the revenues of Trans-Euphrates, so that the work will not stop. Whatever is needed - young bulls, rams, male lambs for burnt offerings to the God of heaven, and wheat, salt, wine and oil, as requested by the priests in Jerusalem - must be given them daily without fail, so that they may offer sacrifices pleasing to the God of heaven and pray for the well-being of the king and his sons.
God not only handled the opposition but He also used the royal treasury to fund the work. We also see that the king provided the animals that were required for the sacrifices at the temple. He did this so that the priests would pray for him and his sons. This is what we commonly call "riding on someone's coattails" and there are many who try to do the same thing today. There are many today who try to buy the prayers and favor of God and there are many so called "pastors", "bishops", etc. who are willing to let them believe it so that they can line their own pockets. No amount of money or possessions can buy a personal relationship with God as it is only possible through Jesus Christ.
Furthermore, I decree that if anyone changes this edict, a beam is to be pulled from his house and he is to be lifted up and impaled on it. And for this crime his house is to be made a pile of rubble. May God, who has caused his Name to dwell there, overthrow any king or people who lifts a hand to change this decree or to destroy this temple in Jerusalem. I Darius have decreed it. Let it be carried out with diligence.
The king's order was to be irrevocable and the penalty for interfering with the construction was severe. The king also asked God to overthrow any people that destroys the temple. The temple was destroyed by an army led by Titus (the son of the Roman emperor Vespasian) in the year A.D. 70. Vespasian had been a general under Nero who was the previous emperor. King Darius' decree was implemented as we no longer see a Roman emperor today.
Then, because of the decree King Darius had sent, Tattenai, governor of Trans-Euphrates, and Shethar-Bozenai and their associates carried it out with diligence.
Although the politicians had started out as arrogant in their opposition, they now have changed their position. They are now following the instructions of the king and actually paying the salaries of the men that were rebuilding the temple. Today, many people (even Christian leaders) get hung up on politics and one party or another but, as we see here, most politicians are simply looking out for their own interests.
So the elders of the Jews continued to build and prosper under the preaching of Haggai the prophet and Zechariah, a descendant of Iddo. They finished building the temple according to the command of the God of Israel and the decrees of Cyrus, Darius and Artaxerxes, kings of Persia. The temple was completed on the third day of the month of Adar, in the sixth year of the reign of King Darius.
God spoke to His people through the prophets Haggai and Zechariah. The people obeyed the leading of God and finished the work on the temple. We notice that they prospered as they followed the leading of God and the same thing is true for us today. If we seek God's will and obey when He speaks to our hearts, we will prosper in what we do for the kingdom.
Then the people of Israel - The priests, the Levites and the rest of the exiles - celebrated the dedication of the house of God with joy. For the dedication of this house of God they offered a hundred bulls, two hundred rams, four hundred male lambs and, as a sin offering for all Israel, twelve male goats, one for each of the tribes of Israel.
After the work was completed, they had a dedication ceremony. It is interesting to note that the sacrifices that were offered were not the same as the ones that were offered at the dedication of Solomon's temple. There were less sacrifices as there was only the remnant of God's people back in Jerusalem. We also see that a goat was offered for each of the tribes of Israel. There are some who refer to some of the tribes of Israel as "lost" but, as we see here, all of the tribes had a remnant at the dedication. The goats were what is known as scapegoats as the sins of the tribes were to be put on the goats.
And they installed the priests in their divisions and the Levites in their groups for the service of God at Jerusalem, according to what is written in the Book of Moses.
With this new temple, the people had decided to turn back to the word of God. This included setting the proper people in place for the service in the temple.
On the fourteenth day of the first month, the exiles celebrated the Passover. The priests and Levites had purified themselves and were all ceremonially clean. The Levites slaughtered the Passover lamb for all the exiles, for their brothers the priests and for themselves. So the Israelites who had returned from the exile ate it, together with all who had separated themselves from the unclean practices of their Gentile neighbors in order to seek the Lord, the God of Israel. For seven days they celebrated with joy the Feast of Unleavened Bread, because the Lord had filled them with joy by changing the attitude of the king of Assyria, so that he assisted them in the work on the house of God, the God of Israel.
Now that the temple was restored, the people were able to celebrate the feasts of the Lord. They began with the Feast of Unleavened Bread (Passover) at its proper time. This was commanded by God after they left captivity in Egypt (see Exodus) as a reminder of the fact that God had delivered His people and spared their firstborn sons. This was the same feast that was happening when Jesus entered Jerusalem for the final time as our Passover lamb. Just as the king of Assyria had given the All Clear! signal to rebuild the temple, Jesus cleared the way for us to have a right relationship with God through His sacrifice.