Today: [Ezra Six] Prospering Through the Prophets. In this chapter we find that the prophets have encouraged the people to resume the building of the temple even though the king commanded them otherwise. The king searches the archives of previous kings’ commands and finds that the work should indeed continue. Those who were opposers were shut down and in fact even commanded to supply the builders till the work was done. The commentary of the chronicler is that the people “prospered through the prophesying of the prophets”. When we hear and heed the word of the Lord through the prophetic our lives are benefited and the purpose of God is accomplished.
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[Ezr 6:1-22 KJV] 1 Then Darius the king made a decree, and search was made in the house of the rolls, where the treasures were laid up in Babylon. 2 And there was found at Achmetha, in the palace that [is] in the province of the Medes, a roll, and therein [was] a record thus written: 3 In the first year of Cyrus the king [the same] Cyrus the king made a decree [concerning] the house of God at Jerusalem, Let the house be builded, the place where they offered sacrifices, and let the foundations thereof be strongly laid; the height thereof threescore cubits, [and] the breadth thereof threescore cubits; 4 [With] three rows of great stones, and a row of new timber: and let the expenses be given out of the king’s house: 5 And also let the golden and silver vessels of the house of God, which Nebuchadnezzar took forth out of the temple which [is] at Jerusalem, and brought unto Babylon, be restored, and brought again unto the temple which [is] at Jerusalem, [every one] to his place, and place [them] in the house of God. 6 Now [therefore], Tatnai, governor beyond the river, Shetharboznai, and your companions the Apharsachites, which [are] beyond the river, be ye far from thence: 7 Let the work of this house of God alone; let the governor of the Jews and the elders of the Jews build this house of God in his place. 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, and rams, and lambs, for the burnt offerings of the God of heaven, wheat, salt, wine, and oil, 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.
In the previous chapter we see that after commencing the restoration of the temple the Jews were halted through the accusations of Tatnai the governor of a nearby province. Tatnai had maligned the Jews before Darius the current king of Persia and Darius had ordered the cessation of construction in Jerusalem. In defiance of Darius’ decree the Jews continued building and were informed upon by Tatnai and his agents to Darius – hoping to bring the Jews’ work again to it’s halt. When commanded to stop a second time the Jews called upon Darius to search the archives of the Persians to find the decree of king Cyrus before him that the work should not cease. Darius in a remarkable show of restraint does not punish the Jews for their impudence but does in fact search out the decree of king Cyrus. Realizing that his decree was a contradiction to the edict of Cyrus – Darius reinstates the building permit of the Jews in Jerusalem. In addition to allowing the building to resume Darius realizes he has been manipulated by Tatnai and his cohorts and therefore commands that they supply the Jews building supplies, food stuffs, and sacrificial animals out of their own treasuries. Tatnai and his supporters were then specifically warned on pain of death not the interfere with the restoration in Jerusalem.
The king’s decree instructs Tatnai and his companions to be “far from thence” and to “let the work of this house of God alone…” There are several things we can learn from this. 1.) God will occupy your enemies elsewhere if you put your trust in Him. 2.) Darius didn’t simply tell Tatnai to leave the Jews alone. He told them to leave the “work of this house of God alone…” In other words when you seek first the kingdom God will defend you in the effort. What if you do not seek first the kingdom? When we live in self referral instead of God consciousness we open ourselves up to the interference of the enemy.
Remember that all of this victory came about after the decree to stop the work had been given. The people took their lives in their hands to defy the king. Sometimes to obey God you have to cut against the grain. You may be struggling in life and feel that you have been stymied and impeded. You may wonder why God has not intervened. The Jews in this chapter weren’t sitting around scratching their heads wondering what went wrong. They didn’t start questioning the prophets who had decreed that the house would be built. They took stock of their situation and enlarged their disobedience to the point of taking risks in order to obey God.
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 and people, 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. 13 Then Tatnai, governor on this side the river, Shetharboznai, and their companions, according to that which Darius the king had sent, so they did speedily. 14 And the elders of the Jews builded, and they prospered through the prophesying of Haggai the prophet and Zechariah the son of Iddo. And they builded, and finished [it], according to the commandment of the God of Israel, and according to the commandment of Cyrus, and Darius, and Artaxerxes king of Persia. 15 And this house was finished on the third day of the month Adar, which was in the sixth year of the reign of Darius the king. 16 And the children of Israel, the priests, and the Levites, and the rest of the children of the captivity, kept the dedication of this house of God with joy, 17 And offered at the dedication of this house of God an hundred bullocks, two hundred rams, four hundred lambs; and for a sin offering for all Israel, twelve he goats, according to the number of the tribes of Israel. 18 And they set the priests in their divisions, and the Levites in their courses, for the service of God, which [is] at Jerusalem; as it is written in the book of Moses. 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, did eat, 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.
Darius makes the decree that the restoration begin again. Further he commands that any contradiction to his instructions would be met with dire consequences. One important lesson to learn in life is not to interfere with the favor of God upon others. Someone may be doing something we don’t understand or agree with but we should let our tongue cleave to the roof of our mouth. Tatnai and his companions heard the sound of rejoicing when the work of God was going forward. They were offended and scandalized by the blessing of God and the favor of God upon the Jews. They could have left well enough alone but they decided to have an opinion. They couldn’t sleep well knowing that someone else was being blessed and it wasn’t them. They tried to impede the work before the king and wound up suffering unnecessarily under the reproof of the king’s edict. Rom. 14:4 tells us not to judge another man’s servant. That can be very difficult when others are being blessed and we are not – even though in our thinking our needs are much greater. Learn to be silent in times like this. Learn to thank God for His goodness even when you are not the beneficiary. When we resist and resent others that God is engaging with through His favor and indulgence we unnecessarily complicate our own lives because in setting ourselves against our fellows we have inadvertently set ourselves against God.
The last verse here says that God turned the heart of Darius to support the work of restoring the temple. How did God do this? 1.) By sending the prophets to encourage the people. 2.) The people acting upon the promise of God and continuing the work in spite of the prior decree of the king. In Luke 17:20 Jesus declares that the kingdom doesn’t come with observation. You must do something. God prospered the people through the prophesying of Haggai and Zecheriah. Have you ever asked God to prosper you? Do you believe it is God’s will to prosper you? God will prosper you through the prophets. If you have a leader who stands in opposition to the prophets then you have a leader who is in opposition to your prosperity. If you have a skeptical attitude toward the place of the prophetic in your life you are forsaking your own mercy. If you despise the prophetic you are despising your own blessing and birthright. When you cry out for blessing God will answer according to His sovereign process and in many cases that will include the disclosure of His words to you through the prophetic. We must not only hear those words but make decisions regarding what our actions will or won’t be based upon what God has said. Then and only then are the treasuries of God’s strategy activated in the situation and progress is made.
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