Decree of God of Israel and three kings of Persia
Week 19: 05/05/2023. Fri
This verse is one of the glorious peak of prophets' preaching—the mention of God of Israel and three (3) kings of Persia in one breadth.
Ezra 6:14 And the elders of the Jews built and prospered through the prophesying of Haggai the prophet and Zechariah the son of Iddo. They finished their building by decree of the God of Israel and by decree of Cyrus and Darius and Artaxerxes king of Persia; (ESV)
Ezra's writing causes us to ask, where else in other literature or history did the kings of superpowers of their time subsume their royal wills and decrees to the God of Israel? Indeed, as rare as eclipses in the sky, the Project of rebuilding of the Temple of the LORD in Jerusalem was accomplished by the alignment of various unique factors.
Firstly, the Temple rebuilding project was supported by and accomplished by prayer. Of all persons, Darius the Persian king had hoped that the people of The LORD "may offer pleasing sacrifices to the God of heaven and pray for the life of the king and his sons" (Ezra 6:10). A pagan hoped that the people of God would pray. How glorious this decree!
Would you say a short prayer right now that God's will be done in one aspect of life on earth. Jesus taught that prayers need not be too repetitive nor long nor showy, but prayers have to be sincere, the kind that springs out of a burning desire in your hearts for God's will to be done on earth as it is in heaven (where God does as He wills, without any disobedience from humans).
Secondly, the Temple project prospered "through the prophesying of Haggai the prophet and Zechariah the son of Iddo" (6:14). Because prophetic words go into the values and minds of listeners, affecting mankind more than food and diet, we see the importance and glorious preaching of the prophets of Israel, that spoke into the lives, hearts and minds of those first audience, even those alive today as you read and hear their words once again. Would the young among us be more influenced by God's Word than by cannabis? Huh?
Thirdly, the "elders of the Jews built and prospered" and "they finished their building" (6:14). The elders led the people to work hard for about 20 years since construction first began. How long is 20 years? About the same as S-Word EFC. Think about it. It is a short time for rebuilding such a big and difficult project over existing ruins. These ruins were not only the physical walls, but the disappointments about their past, the numbing hopelessness of being cast aside, the choking inability to forgive themselves over their past heinous crimes against The LORD, and the shame of having covenanted loudly with the LORD yet failed in ways that screamed even louder.
The Temple was completed in about 516 B.C., exactly 70 years after it destruction in 586 B.C. by the Babylonians. To rebuild something after 70 years of utter destruction was quite remarkable. That the long absent and forgotten rituals can be revived, when what was expected economically, socially and militarily was nothing but utter dissipation, destruction and disappearance.
Fourthly, the Temple was completed foremost "by decree of the God of Israel" (6:14). This was despite the verse continuing with "and by decree of Cyrus and Darius and Artaxerxes king of Persia". The decree of God will always come to pass whether or not it was accompanied by the decrees of other kings. As sure as when He decreed "let there be light, and there was light". This would be for his own glory when things come to pass. By aligning your personal ambition, weekly timetables, values and desires with God's will and decree, you would find great convergence between what you do which coincides with the history and destiny of the whole world, the universe and all of creation according to God's decree. As harmonious as today's verse, where the "decree of God" coincided with the decrees of three great Persian kings.
Avoid clashing with the LORD, the God who reigns over these big empires then, and now.