COMEBACK FROM SETBACK
So our meddlesome neighbors have made a claim in the court of the king, and stopped the reconstruction of the temple. So the prince of this world has a season to hinder the kingdom, but no more. When God’s time is right he spoke to the prophets with new instructions.
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. At the same time came to them Tatnai, governor on this side the river, and Shetharboznai and their companions, and said thus unto them, Who hath commanded you to build this house, and to make up this wall? Then said we unto them after this manner, What are the names of the men that make this building? 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 5:1-5
God told the prophets to resume the work that the king had forbidden, so the obedient men began the work again. And their enemies began their work again too. I understand a neighbor tattled on my handyman for not having a building permit for my remodeling. The building inspector was not concerned about my little repairs, but he had to humor the whiners by stopping by the house. So here the Jews have to endure the opposition again, and the matter is again referred to the king.
The copy of the letter that Tatnai, governor on this side the river, and Shetharboznai and his companions the Apharsachites, which were on this side the river, sent unto Darius the king: They sent a letter unto him, wherein was written thus; Unto Darius the king, all peace. Be it known unto the king, that we went into the province of Judea, to the house of the great God, which is builded with great stones, and timber is laid in the walls, and this work goeth fast on, and prospereth in their hands. Then asked we those elders, and said unto them thus, Who commanded you to build this house, and to make up these walls? We asked their names also, to certify thee, that we might write the names of the men that were the chief of them. Ezra 5:6-10
So the letter begins with the discovery of work ongoing on the temple. This report indicates that they were taking names. Isn’t that always a bad sign? So they go on…
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. 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, the Chaldean, who destroyed this house, and carried the people away into Babylon. But in the first year of Cyrus the king of Babylon the same king Cyrus made a decree to build this house of God. And the vessels also of gold and silver 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, whom he had made governor; 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. 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. Ezra 5:11-16
So these builders admit to having angered God and being punished. But now they point out the decree of king Cyrus who had ordered them to be about this building. They report having started the work and admit that they have not finished their assignment.
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. Ezra 5:17
Now the Jews have a new court and a new judge. They also have a case based on precedent and a king’s authority. God has provided the conditions in his time, and faith opened the door to a new possibility. Everyone wants to have a snappy comeback, but none is greater than “it is written”. Let’s see where this takes them now.
If the news is all bad it opens the door to challenge God. We can find some bad news around us today, but are we any less prepared to trust God for our help? We are going to see where that will take us in our own time.