1 Then the prophets, Haggai the prophet, and Zechariah the son of Iddo, prophesied to the Jews that were in Judah and Jerusalem in the name of the God of Israel, even to them. 2 Then Zerubbabel, the son of Shealtiel, rose up, 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.
- Prophesying was speaking God’s word to the people.
- God spoke through men because His people were afraid to listen directly to Him.
- Hearing God’s word inspires and empowers us to do God’s will.
- It is the highest honor in creation that God wants to dwell with us.
- Exodus 20:19 And they said to Moses, You speak with us, and we will hear: but do not let God speak with us, lest we die.
3 At the same time Tatnai came to them, governor on this side the river, and Shethar-boznai, and their companions, and said this to them, Who has commanded you to build this house, and to finish this wall? 4 Then we told them the names of the men that were building the building.
- Building the temple at Jerusalem is a portrayal of building God’s house in our heart.
- God’s house in our heart is built with His Word.
- If we do not know His word, to that extent we do not know Him because He has revealed Himself to us in His word.
- When we decide to learn God’s word there will be opposition.
God’s eye was on them to enable them
5 But the eye of their God was on the elders of the Jews, so that they could not cause them to stop, until the matter came to Darius: and then they returned answer by letter concerning this matter. 6 The copy of the letter that Tatnai, governor on this side the river, and Shethar-boznai, and his companions the Apharsachites, which were on this side the river, sent to Darius the king: 7 They sent a letter to him in which this was written; To Darius the king, all peace. 8 Be it known to the king, that we went into the province of Judea, to the house of the great God, which is built with great stones, and timber is laid in the walls, and this work goes fast, and prospers in their hands.
- ‘great stones’ are equal to the great truths of scripture that build a house for God in our hearts.
- Romans 8:31 If God be for us, who can be against us?
9 Then we asked those elders and said this to them, Who commanded you to build this house, and to finish these walls? 10 We also asked their names, to inform you, so that we might write the names of the men that were the their leaders. 11 And they returned to us this answer saying, We are the servants of the God of heaven and earth, and build the house that was built many years ago, which a great king of Israel built and set up. 12 But after our fathers had provoked the God of heaven to wrath, he gave them into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, the Chaldean, who destroyed this house, and carried the people away to Babylon.
- The God of heaven is provoked to wrath by idols and disobedience because they cause suffering and ruin.
- God allowed His people to be taken captive by a heathen kings so they would return to Him.
- Idolatry leads to eternal death. God died to give us life.
- Deuteronomy 30:2-3 return to the Lord your God and obey His voice then the Lord will have compassion on you and gather you from all the nations.
- John 10:28 I give to them eternal life; and they will never perish, neither will any man pluck them out of my hand.
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 also, the articles of gold and silver of the house of God that Nebuchadnezzar took out of the temple that was in Jerusalem, and brought them to the temple of Babylon, those, Cyrus the king took out of the temple of Babylon, and they were delivered to one, whose name was Sheshbazzar, whom he had made governor; 15 And said to him, Take these articles, go, carry them to the temple that is in Jerusalem, and let the house of God be built in its place. 16 Then the same Sheshbazzar came and laid the foundation of the house of God which is in Jerusalem: and since that time even until now it has been being built, and still it is not finished. 17 Now therefore, if it seems good to the king, let a search be made in the king’s treasure house, which is there at Babylon, whether it be so, that a decree was made by Cyrus the king to build this house of God at Jerusalem, and let the king send his pleasure to us concerning this matter.
- Ephesians 3:17 That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love…
- John 14:23 Jesus answered and said to him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come to him, and make our abode with him.
The God of heaven does for us beyond what we ask
1 Then Darius the king made a decree, and search was made in the archives where the treasures were laid up in Babylon. 2 And at Ecbatana, in the palace that is in the province of the Medes, a scroll was found, in which this record was written: 3 In the first year of Cyrus the king, this same Cyrus the king made a decree concerning the house of God at Jerusalem, Let the house be built, the place where they offered sacrifices, and let its foundations be strongly laid; its height 90 feet, and width 90 feet; 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:
- In Ezra 5 the Jews resumed building God’s house in Jerusalem.
- The opposition tried to stop them by sending a letter to the king over the land asking that he search for the edict that authorized the rebuilding.
- We build a house for God in our souls with His truth.
- The New Testament calls it edification.
- John 17:17…Your word is truth.
5 Also let the golden and silver articles of the house of God, which Nebuchadnezzar took out of the temple that is at Jerusalem, and brought to Babylon, be restored, and returned to the temple that is at Jerusalem, every one to its place, and place them in the house of God. 6 Now therefore, Tatnai, governor beyond the river, Shethar-boznai, and your companions the Apharsachites, who are beyond the river, keep far away from there: 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 decree what you are to do to the elders of these Jews for the building of this house of God: that from the king’s goods, from the tax beyond the river, the exact expense be given to these men, so that they are not hindered/made to stop.
- They just wanted to continue the work.
- Now the king is paying for it all and supporting the workers from his own tax money.
- What are the chances of this happening?
- Ephesians 3:20 Now to him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that work in us,
9 And what they need, both young bulls, 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 that are at Jerusalem, let it be given them day by day without fail: 10 That they may offer sacrifices of rest to the God of heaven, and pray for the life of the king, and of his sons. 11 Also I have made a decree, that whoever will alter this word, let timber be pulled down from his house, and being set up, let him be hanged on it; and let his house be made a dunghill for this. 12 And the God that has caused his name to dwell there destroy all kings and people that put to their hand to alter and to destroy this house of God that is at Jerusalem. I Darius have made a decree; let it be done with speed. 13 Then Tatnai, governor on this side the river, Shethar-boznai, and their companions, quickly did according to what Darius the king had sent.
- Romans 8:31? If God be for us, who can be against us?
14 And the elders of the Jews built, and they prospered through the prophesying of Haggai the prophet and Zechariah the son of Iddo. They built, and finished it, according to the commandment of the God of Israel, and according to the decree of Cyrus, and Darius, and Artaxerxes king of Persia.
- God’s word enabled them to prosper in the work.
- Prophesying was speaking God’s word.
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, priests, the Levites, and the rest of the children of the captivity, dedicated this house of God with joy, 17 And offered at the dedication of this house of God a hundred bulls, two hundred rams, and four hundred lambs; and for a sin offering for all Israel, twelve he goats, according to the number of the tribes of Israel.
- The house and everything in it told of the Lord and His death for our sins.
- Every sacrifice was a picture of Christ dying for our sins.
- Each one was God saying, This is how much I love you.
- John 1:29 The next day John saw Jesus coming to him, and said, Behold the Lamb of God, which takes away the sin of the world.
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 on 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 brothers the priests, and for themselves.
- John 15:3 Now you are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.
- Revelation 1:6 And has made us kings and priests to God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
God makes joyful
21 And the children of Israel, that returned out of captivity, and all that had separated themselves to them from the filthiness of the heathen of the land, to seek the LORD God of Israel, ate, 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 to them, to strengthen their hands in the work of the house of God, the God of Israel.
- Psalm 16:11 You will show me the path of life: in your presence is fullness of joy; at your right hand there are pleasures for evermore.
1 Now after these things, in the reign of Artaxerxes king of Persia, Ezra, the son of Seraiah, son of Azariah, son of Hilkiah, 2 son of Shallum, son of Zadok, son of Ahitub, 3 son of Amariah, son of Azariah, son of Meraioth, 4 son of Zerahiah, son of Uzzi, son of Bukki, 5 son of Abishua, son of Phinehas, son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron, the chief priest: 6 This Ezra went up from Babylon; he was a ready scribe in the law of Moses, which the LORD God of Israel had given: and the king granted him all his request, according to the hand of the LORD his God on him.
- ‘A ready scribe in the law of Moses’ tells us that Ezra knew the law of God.
- His job was to prepare manuscripts.
- This was a precise art. The paper or animal skins had to be carefully prepared. The ink had to be mixed, the quills plucked from the geese or bird, dried, and sharpened. Often the animals were raised to prepare the vellum (paper made of skins).
- The task of copying the manuscripts was exacting. Any blotch of ink on a page would render it useless. If there were more than three imperfections on a page, such as a tiny ink spot or a line just a bit too long, then that page was thrown away and the scribe started over.
- For this reason the manuscripts that our Bible was
taken from are far more accurate then any other writings that come to us from the ancient world.
7 In the seventh year of Artaxerxes the king, some of the children of Israel went up to Jerusalem, some of the priests, the Levites, the singers, the door/gatekeepers, and the Nethinims. 8 He came to Jerusalem in the fifth month, which was in the seventh year of the king. 9 On the first day of the first month he began the journey from Babylon, and on the first day of the fifth month he arrived at Jerusalem, according to the good hand of his God on him.
10 For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the law of the LORD, to do it, and to teach in Israel (God’s) statutes and judgments.
- Matthew 4:4 But he answered and said, It is written, Man will not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.
- Matthew 28:18 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, All power is given to me in heaven and in earth. 19 You go therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, behold, I am with you always, even to the end of the world. Amen.
11 Now this is the copy of the letter that the king Artaxerxes gave to Ezra the priest, the scribe, a scribe of the words of the commandments of the LORD, and of his statutes to Israel. 12 Artaxerxes, king of kings, to Ezra the priest, a scribe of the law of the God of heaven, perfect peace, and at such a time. 13 I make a decree that all of the people of Israel, and of his priests and Levites in my realm, who are minded of their own freewill to go up to Jerusalem, go with you. 14 For you are sent by the king, and of his seven counselors, to inquire concerning Judah and Jerusalem, according to the law of your God that is in you hand;
- Kings do not usually set free those under them. They live by the revenue that people produce.
- Freedom usually has to be won on the battlefield.
- Pharaoh of the Exodus would not release God’s people even with the most unusual and dire persuasions ever known to man.
- Our God is the God of heaven; He is the God of miracles.
- Peace comes from Him.
- Isaiah 26:3 You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You: because he trusts in You.
- Isaiah 57:21 There is no peace, says my God, to the wicked.
15 And to carry the silver and gold, which the king and his counselors have freely offered to the God of Israel, whose dwelling place is in Jerusalem, 16 And all the silver and gold that you can find in all the province of Babylon, with the freewill offering of the people, and of the priests, offered willingly for the house of their God which is in Jerusalem:
- Not only did the king and his counselors send offerings to God with Ezra, they sent with him all the silver and gold they could find in Babylon.
- It is the highest honor in the universe that God dwells with us.
- Ephesians3:17 That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; 19 And to know the love of Christ, which passes knowledge, that you might be filled with all the fullness of God.
17 That you may buy quickly with this money bulls, rams, and lambs, with their food offerings and their drink offerings, and offer them on the altar of the house of your God that is in Jerusalem. 18 And whatever seems right to you, and to your brothers, to do with the rest of the silver and the gold, do that according to the will of your God.
- These offerings showed God’s love for man through Christ’s death for our sins.
- John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in him not perish, but have everlasting life.
19 The articles also that are given to you for the service of the house of your God, deliver those before the God of Jerusalem. 20 And whatever more is needed for the house of your God that you have occasion to bestow, bestow it out of the king’s treasure house. 21 And I, even I Artaxerxes the king, make a decree to all the treasurers which are beyond the river, that whatever Ezra the priest, the scribe of the law of the God of heaven, requires of you, do it quickly, 22 Up to a hundred talents of silver, a hundred measures of wheat, a hundred baths of wine, a hundred baths of oil, and salt without stipulation. 23 Whatsoever is commanded by the God of heaven, let it be diligently done for the house of the God of heaven: why should there be wrath against the realm of the king and his sons? 24 We also inform you that it is not lawful to impose toll, tribute, or custom on any of the priests and Levites, singers, doorkeepers, Nethinims, or ministers of this house of God.
- The king declared a tax-exempt status for all these servants at the house of God.
- The great provision that the king made was for the worship services and feeding the workers.
- Matthew 12:50 For whoever does the will of my Father which is in heaven the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.
25 And you, Ezra, by the wisdom of your God that is in your hand, set magistrates and judges, who may judge all the people that are beyond the river, all such as know the laws of your God; and you teach them that do not know them. 26 And whoever will not do the law of your God, and the law of the king, let judgment be executed quickly on him, whether it be death, or banishment, or confiscation of goods, or imprisonment.
- Artaxerxes established national policy and rulership according to God’s law.
- Matthew 28:20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the world. Amen.
God put all this on the king’s heart
27 Blessed be the LORD God of our fathers who put such a thing as this in the king’s heart, to beautify the house of the LORD which is in Jerusalem: 28 And has extended mercy to me before the king, his counselors, and before all the king’s mighty princes. And I was strengthened as the hand of the LORD my God was on me, and I gathered together out of Israel leading men to go up with me.
- God gave mercy to Ezra before the king.
- God strengthened him.
- God provides everything that is needed for what He requires.
- Philippians 4:19 But my God will supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.
SUMMARY: Ezra 5-7
- The LORD's eye was on His people to enable them to work
- He does for us beyond what we ask
- He makes joyful
- He put all these things on the kings heart