Ezra 6:1-12. The Temple Is Completed. 10-23-19 Devotional

Ezra 6:1-12. The Temple Is Completed. 10-23-19 Devotional

Ezra 6:1-22                     Kevin E. Jesmer

Key Verse: 6:10             10-23-19

that they may offer pleasing sacrifices to the God of heaven and pray for the life of the king and his sons.”

Dear Lord Father in heaven…thank you for your love and grace poured out on us. You give me strength to carry on and serve your will upon my life. Sometimes it is hard to move forward, but in your strength I move forward. Please reveal your grace to the people of this community. Help me to make meditating and writing about your word a daily part of my life. Help me to understand the main points of this passage. I pray in Christ’s name. Amen!

Part 1: The Decree of King Darius (1-12)

Verses 1-12, “Then Darius the king made a decree, and search was made in Babylonia, in the house of the archives where the documents were stored. 2 And in Ecbatana, the citadel that is in the province of Media, a scroll was found on which this was written: “A record. 3 In the first year of Cyrus the king, Cyrus the king issued a decree: Concerning the house of God at Jerusalem, let the house be rebuilt, the place where sacrifices were offered, and let its foundations be retained. Its height shall be sixty cubits and its breadth sixty cubits, 4 with three layers of great stones and one layer of timber. Let the cost be paid from the royal treasury. 5 And also let the gold and silver vessels of the house of God, which Nebuchadnezzar took out of the temple that is in Jerusalem and brought to Babylon, be restored and brought back to the temple that is in Jerusalem, each to its place. You shall put them in the house of God.”

6 “Now therefore, Tattenai, governor of the province Beyond the River, Shethar-bozenai, and your associates the governors who are in the province Beyond the River, keep away. 7 Let the work on this house of God alone. Let the governor of the Jews and the elders of the Jews rebuild this house of God on its site. 8 Moreover, I make a decree regarding what you shall do for these elders of the Jews for the rebuilding of this house of God. The cost is to be paid to these men in full and without delay from the royal revenue, the tribute of the province from Beyond the River. 9 And whatever is needed—bulls, rams, or sheep for burnt offerings to the God of heaven, wheat, salt, wine, or oil, as the priests at Jerusalem require—let that be given to them day by day without fail, 10 that they may offer pleasing sacrifices to the God of heaven and pray for the life of the king and his sons. 11 Also I make a decree that if anyone alters this edict, a beam shall be pulled out of his house, and he shall be impaled on it, and his house shall be made a dunghill. 12 May the God who has caused his name to dwell there overthrow any king or people who shall put out a hand to alter this, or to destroy this house of God that is in Jerusalem. I Darius make a decree; let it be done with all diligence.”

God answered his people’s prayer and moved the heart of King Darius. Look at verse 1-2, “Then Darius the king made a decree, and search was made in Babylonia, in the house of the archives where the documents were stored. 2 And in Ecbatana, the citadel that is in the province of Media, a scroll was found on which this was written: “A record.” It was the practice to record business transactions and historical data on clay and papyrus documents. Many of these were stored in huge libraries. He looked up the records and found that King Cyrus had indeed authorized the construction of the temple.

Based on Cyrus’ royal decree, King Darius told the district governor not to interfere with the building of the temple; rather, to assist in any way they could. He ordered that construction costs be paid from the royal treasury, and that animals for sacrifice also be provided. He requested prayer for himself and his sons. Verse 10 reads, “, that they may offer pleasing sacrifices to the God of heaven and pray for the life of the king and his sons.”

Here we see the sovereign hand of God, who was with his people. He led the officials to a small document in a pagan library. He moved their hearts to respect the legal clause therein. In this way God delivered his people from persecution and even helped to propel the work of building the temple forward. God is the ruler over all rulers. He can deliver his people in ways that we can never even imagine. We need to just stop and trust in his power and love, even in the face of opposition.

I need to trust that God can and will work, even in very unexpected ways. I have seen this happen in Canada. The region seems impervious in 2012. But God helped us to meet the right people. He opened doors. He even led us to a sister church in the North to work through. He even provided a band council resolution to build missionary housing in the heart of a First Nation community. He is opening doors and creating allies in the mission at every turn. If it is his will, nothing can stand in God’s way.

God has called us to build up the “walls” of the church. It seems like a daunting task. But it is not so daunting when we know how God works. He can work even among the pagans to bring forth his will. I trust the Lord and step out in faith.

Part 2: Two Joyful Celebrations (13-22)

Verses 13-22, “13 Then, according to the word sent by Darius the king, Tattenai, the governor of the province Beyond the River, Shethar-bozenai, and their associates did with all diligence what Darius the king had ordered. 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; 15 and this house was finished on the third day of the month of Adar, in the sixth year of the reign of Darius the king.

16 And the people of Israel, the priests and the Levites, and the rest of the returned exiles, celebrated the dedication of this house of God with joy. 17 They offered at the dedication of this house of God 100 bulls, 200 rams, 400 lambs, and as a sin offering for all Israel 12 male goats, according to the number of the tribes of Israel. 18 And they set the priests in their divisions and the Levites in their divisions, for the service of God at Jerusalem, as it is written in the Book of Moses.

19 On the fourteenth day of the first month, the returned exiles kept the Passover. 20 For the priests and the Levites had purified themselves together; all of them were clean. So they slaughtered the Passover lamb for all the returned exiles, for their fellow priests, and for themselves. 21 It was eaten by the people of Israel who had returned from exile, and also by everyone who had joined them and separated himself from the uncleanness of the peoples of the land to worship the Lord, the God of Israel. 22 And they kept the Feast of Unleavened Bread seven days with joy, for the Lord had made them joyful and had turned the heart of the king of Assyria to them, so that he aided them in the work of the house of God, the God of Israel.”

The people joyfully dedicated the temple. It represented God’s presence in their midst. They studied the Bible and established temple worship according to the word of God. Then, they joyfully celebrated the Passover, remembering God’s grace and his deliverance, and how he had worked to change the attitude of the king.

There was feasting and celebrating at the dedication of the temple. This celebration reminds us of the celebration of the temple in Solomon’s. But Solomon sacrifice 200 times more animals. (1 Kings 8:63. Life Application Study Bible). The servants of the temple were divided up to provide service there. This is reminiscent of Moses’ dividing leaders to serve the great number of people.

The Passover celebration was an annual celebration commemorating Israel’s deliverance from Egypt. (Ex 12:1-30). The deliverance from Egypt was a joyful event. The people were freed from slavery and were able to start their own nation dedicated to the Lord God Almighty. It was definitely a reason to celebrate.

God’s presence among his people brings joy. When God is with is our hearts are unburdened by his grace. We experience his grace. We are reminded of his grace. There is great joy to be had in this.

     God brings deep spiritual joy to those who are engaged in his work, and serving him according to Gods word. There is something to be said about the joy of Koinonia. Koinonia is uniquely, Christian fellowship. There is no other joy like this in the world. It is more joy than a 7 day all-expense paid trip to Disney World. It is generated by God himself, among his people who are living according to his word. We can taste this joy as we serve Jesus through the church. We can taste this joy when we serve alongside other Christians in a Gospel mission. We can taste this joy when we witness the life transforming work of the Spirit in believer’s hearts and lives. It is a joy that the world cannot give and cannot understand and cannot take away. I thank God for blessing me with such joy. May all members of our congregation and the missionaries up north be filled with his joy.

I learn also that this joy is intimately linked to a study of the word of God. People can try on their own to generate joy in their lives without God’s word. But that is like trying to throw a dart at a dart board blindfolded. We need to let Jesus, with his word and spirit guide our hearts into his presence. He will guide our hearts into his joy. I pray for making a daily meditation on God’s word my daily practice.

Prayer: “Lord, thank you for opening a way for your people when they do your work by faith. Help us to rejoice in your presence.”

One Word: God’s presence brings joy.

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