Ezra - The Lord Made Them Joyful
Read Time: 6 Minutes
In the first four chapters of Ezra we read that they were building the temple but they let the inhabitants of the land stop their progress. They didn't rely on God to help them continue the work. King Cyrus of Persia allowed himself to be talked out of having it rebuilt and commanded the Judeans to stop. After the death of Cyrus and two years into Darius Hystaspis reign God inspired the prophets to tell the Judeans to resume building. The people believe now and we see that it is actually rebuilt.
When the people of the land complained again to Darius Hystaspis the king wanted to know who was building this temple:
:11 And thus they returned us answer, saying,
We are the servants of the God of heaven and earth,
and build the house that was builded these many years ago,
which a great king of Israel builded and set up.
:12 But after that our fathers had provoked the God of heaven unto wrath,
he gave them into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon,
who destroyed this house,
and carried the people away into Babylon.
[God's people had walked away from doing the will of God and no longer obeyed His
commandments and suffered the consequences of their unbelief]
:13 But in the first year of Cyrus the king of Babylon
the same king Cyrus
made a decree to build this house of God.
:14 And the vessels also of gold
of the house of God,
which Nebuchadnezzar took out of the temple that was in Jerusalem,
and brought them into the temple of Babylon,
those did Cyrus the king take out of the temple of Babylon,
and they were delivered unto one, whose name was Sheshbazzar, [Nehemiah]
whom he had made governor;
:15 And said unto him,
Take these vessels, go, carry them into the temple that is in Jerusalem,
and let the house of God be builded in his place.
:16 Then came the same Sheshbazzar,
and laid the foundation of the house of God
which is in Jerusalem:
and since that time even until now hath it been in building,
and yet it is not finished.
:17 Now therefore, if it seem good to the king,
let there be search made in the king's treasure house,
which is there at Babylon,
whether it be so,
that a decree was made of Cyrus the king to build this house of God at Jerusalem,
and let the king send his pleasure to us concerning this matter.
The result of this letter to Darius Hystaspis is wonderful. God is still working in the lives of the Persian kings. Darius Hystaspis searched the scrolls and found Cyrus' decree and told the Tatnai and Shethar-boznai (the trouble makers) to leave them alone and let them continue the work. Plus Darius Hystaspis goes even farther to say:
:8 Moreover I make a decree what ye shall do to the elders of these Jews
for the building of this house of God:
that of the king's goods, even of the tribute beyond the river,
forthwith expenses be given unto these men,
that they be not hindered.
:9 And that which they have need of,
both young bullocks,
for the burnt offerings of the God of heaven,
according to the appointment of the priests which are at Jerusalem,
let it be given them day by day without fail:
:10 That they may offer sacrifices of sweet savours unto the God of heaven,
and pray for the life of the king,
and of his sons.
:11 Also I have made a decree,
that whosoever shall alter this word,
let timber be pulled down from his house,
and being set up,
let him be hanged thereon;
and let his house be made a dunghill for this.
:12 And the God that hath caused his name to dwell there
destroy all kings
that shall put to their hand to alter and to destroy this house of God
which is at Jerusalem.
I Darius have made a decree;
let it be done with speed.
This is truly wonderful for God's people. Not only did Darius Hystaspis command the building be resumed but that the inhabitants of the land were to give them anything they needed. If anyone tries to alter the commandment of the king their houses will be destroyed and they will be hanged. In other words, stop messing around with God's kids and let them rebuild the temple and offer the sacrifices and pray for the king and his sons so that it may be well with King of Persia and his sons. Darius Hystaspis recognized the power of God. Daniel, Esther and Nehemiah's influence on Persia is still evident. The Persian Empire was huge and prospered when God's people were there and they obviously recognized it. They were willing to help the Children of Israel because they knew God would bless them.
It took four years for them to finish the temple and when they finished in the sixth year of Darius Hystaspis (6:16, 405 B.C.) they dedicated the temple and offered sacrifices (712 animals) and set up the priests for the service of God.
:19 And the children of the captivity kept the passover upon the fourteenth day of the first month.
:20 For the priests
and the Levites
were purified together,
all of them were pure,
and killed the passover for all the children of the captivity,
and for their brethren the priests,
and for themselves.
:21 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,
:22 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.
It was because of God that they had joy and rejoiced. Only God can give that kind of joy. We all can experience happiness at times and extreme excitement but only God can generate the kind of joy that dwells deeply in His people. Think of their circumstances. They had been spread throughout a vast empire, their lineages diluted and their homeland destroyed and occupied. Yet, God still pulled them back together when they believed in Him.