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READING: Ezra 5-6 – Restoration of Temple Resumed, Decree of Darius, Dedication of Temple


“Now the prophets, Haggai and Zechariah, prophesied to the Jews in Judah and Jerusalem, in the name of the God of Israel who. Then Zerubbabel [the governor] and Joshua [the High Priest] set out to rebuild the house of God in Jerusalem; and the prophets of God, helped them.” (5:1-2) 

A beginning had been made twenty-one years before this but stopped when the Samaritans bribed people to file a claim against rebuilding this temple. The people quit building the Temple when this happened; they built their own houses. 

“In the second year of King Darius, in the sixth month, on the first day of the month, the word of the LORD came by the prophet Haggai to Zerubbabel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua, the high priest: Thus says the LORD of hosts: These people say the time has not yet come to rebuild the LORD’s house. But is it a time for you to live in paneled houses, while God’s house is ruined?” (Haggai 1:1-4) Haggai and Zechariah kept at it until the temple was completed on the third day of the twelfth month, in the sixth year of the reign of Darius. 

One reason the Temple was finished quickly was that Darius instructed the governor of the province Beyond the River to give the Jews money to build the Temple and all its supplies. When Darius looked in the records stored in Ecbatana, in Persia, he found the decree of Cyrus. Darius rubber-stamped Cyrus’ proclamation with his own decree and instructions to the Governor of the province Beyond the River, Tatenai. 

Tatenai followed the instructions of Darius to the letter, because Darius had added strict punishments for any who altered his decree: a beam would be pulled from his house, and he would be impaled on it, and he closed it with a prayer, “May the God who has established His name there overthrow any king or people that shall put forth a hand to destroy this house of God in Jerusalem.” Tatenai, the governor of the province west of the Euphrates River, and his associates diligently did what Darius ordered. 

Now it was time to celebrate. They celebrated the dedication of the Temple with sacrifices of 100 bulls, 200 rams, 400 lambs, and, for a sin offering for all Israel, 12 male goats, one for each tribe of Israel, proof the returned “children of the captivity” saw themselves as representatives of all Israel. 

Then in the following month, the first month of the Hebrew calendar they celebrated Passover on the 14th day of the month. Passover was the oldest festival of Israel, dating back to their deliverance from Egyptian slavery. This Passover was celebrated by those who returned from Exile and all who joined them and separated themselves from the pollutions of the nations to worship the LORD. 

A slow start, but a quicker ending when Israel’s prophets and Darius got involved. 

What lessons do we learn from these passages? 

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________

PRAY FOR YOURSELF 

Father, God, I pray that I may never have to go into exile, but if I do, keep me faithful to You. I wonder at times if I am in Exile and just drifting. It is times like that that I pray for you to light my fire again. This is my prayer, in the name of Jesus, AMEN! 

Holy Father my prayer for all who read this and for myself, is that we learn from the experience of Israel in their exile and return. According to Haggai, Israel did not fare so well when they quit construction on the Temple. (See Haggai 1:7-11). I offer this prayer for myself, and for all who read this, in the name of our Lord, Jesus, AMEN! 

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