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Therefore we his servants will arise and build.




After 70 years of exile in Babylon, Cyrus the Persian conquered the region and permitted willing Israelites to return to their native land. He ordered the rebuilding of their Temple and provided the resources for it. All this was miraculous in fulfilment of the Prophecy of Jeremiah. [Nehemiah 25:11 -12, Ezra 1:3] Sheshbazzar started, Zerubbabel the Governor and Joshua the High Priest headed the Temple Team.


The project was started by the erection of the Temple Altar on its original foundation and the commencement of the required morning and evening sacrifices, The celebration of the Feast of Tabernacles, The new moon Festivals and all the appointed sacrifices of the YHWH with all their associated offerings as commanded by Moses the Man of God. The exiles were few and surrounded by enemies but they were committed.

After a very moving and joyous celebration when the foundations of the Temple were laid, the work was stopped. Their enemies had successfully petitioned the incoming Xerxes and the new King of Persia - Artaxerxes - to stop the project. It seemed that the Temple would not be rebuilt despite the uncommon favour from King Cyrus, their conviction that this was divinely orchestrated, and their willingness to work.

The project would remain at a standstill for 15 more years.


Had they imagined it all?

Had it been overzealous spirituality making more of the ordinary?

The timing seemed right but was the prophecy of Jeremiah ever going to be fulfilled in its fulness? Had they gotten it wrong?


They were human, and one can imagine these questions playing up in their minds.

But as the Psalmist said:

''Your word, Lord, is eternal;

it stands firm in the heavens.'' Psalm 119:89


They had to trust YHWH while they waited for him to move.

And how did he move eventually? By commanding them to continue the work and encouraging them through words spoken by his prophets. Here is His word:


"Then the angel who was speaking to me said, “Proclaim this word: This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘I am very jealous for Jerusalem and Zion,  and I am very angry with the nations that feel secure. I was only a little angry, but they went too far with the punishment.’

“Therefore this is what the Lord says: ‘I will return to Jerusalem with mercy, and there my house will be rebuilt. And the measuring line will be stretched out over Jerusalem,’ declares the Lord Almighty."

“Proclaim further: This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘My towns will again overflow with prosperity, and the Lord will again comfort Zion and choose Jerusalem.’”Zechariah 1:14- 17


And to the opposition, he said:


“What are you, mighty mountain? Before Zerubbabel you will become level ground. Then he will bring out the capstone to shouts of ‘God bless it! God bless it!’” Zechariah 4:7


To his temple-building Leader Zerubbabel, he said:

8''Then the word of the Lord came to me: 9 “The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this temple; his hands will also complete it. Then you will know that the Lord Almighty has sent me to you.


And to all onlookers, he said:


10 “Who dares despise the day of small things, since the seven eyes of the Lord that range throughout the earth will rejoice when they see the chosen capstone in the hand of Zerubbabel?”


And this was the response of the leaders and the people after the encouragement of their God from Haggai the prophet and Zechariah the prophet:


"Then Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel and Joshua son of Jozadak set to work to rebuild the house of God in Jerusalem. And the prophets of God were with them, supporting them.'' Ezra 5:2


God leads and orchestrates his people and work by his words. We as present day believers judge the words of prophets by the scriptures already given to us. Either way, when the word of God says GO, we go. Why? because we believe in his leadership and recognise his voice. This is how he led our spiritual ancestors and how he leads us today: i.e. by His Holy Spirit and Word.

The words spoken to Zerubbabel and Joshua the high priest are for us today.

Yes, the enemies are watching.

Yes, a few are mocking.

Yes, some are afraid.

Yes, the circumstances seem the same...

But God says resume the work!


The team resumed the work despite the opposition rising up once more to stop it. They continued in faith - doing their part of obedience to God's instruction to continue, as they waited for God to do his part.


Ezra 6 reveals God's mighty move. The opposition had gone back to petition the King Artaxerxes to make them stop but this was the outcome of their conspiracy:


 6Now then, Tattenai, governor of Trans-Euphrates, and Shethar-Bozenai and you other officials of that province, stay away from there. Do not interfere with the work on this temple of God. Let the governor of the Jews and the Jewish elders rebuild this house of God on its site.

Moreover, I hereby decree what you are to do for these elders of the Jews in the construction of this house of God:

Their expenses are to be fully paid out of the royal treasury, from the revenues of Trans-Euphrates, so that the work will not stop. Whatever is needed—young bulls, rams, male lambs for burnt offerings to the God of heaven, and wheat, salt, wine and olive oil, as requested by the priests in Jerusalem—must be given them daily without fail,


Not only did YHWH cause the empowerment of the work of the Temple, but he made sure the resources were once more provided for by their enemies and the foreign nation!

Furthermore, there was a mandate for severe punishment for all who would further try to stop the work.


11 Furthermore, I decree that if anyone defies this edict, a beam is to be pulled from their house and they are to be impaled on it. And for this crime their house is to be made a pile of rubble. 12 May God, who has caused his Name to dwell there, overthrow any king or people who lifts a hand to change this decree or to destroy this temple in Jerusalem.

I Darius have decreed it. Let it be carried out with diligence.


This is God's work and we his servants will do it.

 

‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord Almighty.'' Zechariah 4:6b


''Then answered I them, and said unto them, The God of heaven, he will prosper us; therefore we his servants will arise and build: but ye have no portion, nor right, nor memorial, in Jerusalem.'' Nehemiah 2:20 KJV


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