Ezra 5 & 6

Ezra 5

God raised up two prophets at this time: Haggai and Zechariah. These servants of God stood in the midst of confession and exhorted the remnant to consider their ways, to be strong and recommence the word.

Haggai dealt with the consciences of the people, his are cutting, stirring words. Consider your ways. You have sown much but reaped little. You earn wages but it is like putting your money in a bag with holes. Consider your ways. My judgment fell on you because you are dwelling in your own houses while mine is unfinished. I have withheld My blessing, the earth withholds its fruit.

Matthew 6:33 is valid in every generation.

Zechariah spoke more to the heart, encouraging them to endeavor, speaking of the glorious future.

Both lines of ministry were needed and it produced the desired results.

v. 2—There was an immediate awakening. The result was Spirit-filled ministry.

v. 3—Immediately the work was commenced and opposition began. “Who has commanded you to build this house, and to make up this wall?”

v. 4—The adversaries wanted to single out the leaders, but they were loyal to each other. Satan is always after the leaders.

v. 5—“The eye of the Lord was upon them.” Realizing this, these men could not be stopped from building. They realized God was with them.

v. 6-17—These contain the text of the letter from Tatnai to Darius. This letter is considerably fairer to the Jews than that of the Samaritans in the previous chapter.

v. 8—Note what he called the temple, “the house of the great God.” His report was factual, not fabricated like the Samaritans. The work goes on fast and prospers.

v. 9-10—Consider the courage and purpose of these men. They seem to be transformed. They had received a new vision. They had a mind to build. Who gave you permission to build this house? And walls? They also asked the names of the leaders to inform the king.

v. 11—These men evidently must have been put under considerable pressure. They affirmed that they had been given permission to build. They had the vessels of the temple to prove it. While the discussions were going on, the building never stopped.

They were inspired by the prophets—Isaiah 40:28-31. The persecutions of the early church could not deter them. So then Tatnai sent his letter to the king. Upon receipt of this letter Darius moved into action.

“All that is needed is faith that fears not the face of man.”

Ezra 6

Chapter 6 opens with the king making a search for the document granting permission to build.

It was not found in Babylon, but it was located in Achmetha, in the palace there. V. 2—The law of the Medes and Persians.

This document not only gave the authority to build, but also gave certain instructions how the temple was to be built—v. 4.

Expenses were to be paid out of the king’s revenue. The gold and silver vessels which Nebuchadnezzar had taken from the temple were to be restored—v. 5.

Having substantiated the decree to build, Darius sends forth his instructions or decree—v. 6.

v. 7-9—Leave them alone in their work. Let them build this house. Supply funds for the expenses that the work be not hindered. Give them animals for sacrifices, wheat, salt, oil also.

v. 10—The king requests prayer for himself and his sons.

v. 11—Anyone not abiding by these commandments was to suffer a humiliating death and his house was to be made a dunghill.

v. 12—Darius commanded these instructions to be initiated with all speed.

Furthermore, the king called upon God to destroy anyone, either ruler or individual, who shall put forth their hand to alter or destroy this house. “Whatsoever a man sows, that shall he also reap.”

This curse was fulfilled in three instances:

1. Antiochus Epiphanes desecrated the temple during the Maccabean period.

2. Herod the Great altered it with a view to glorifying himself.

3. The temple was destroyed by the Romans in A.D. 70. Later their own empire was destroyed.

Both Antiochus Epiphanes and Herod the Great were smitten with a sudden, awful disease.

No one can spurn the law of God without repercussion. No one can hinder the work of God without incurring serious consequences.

v. 13—Tatnia did speedily what the king commanded.

v. 14—The revival, interest and enthusiasm at this time were the result of the ministry of Haggai and Zechariah. Thank God for faithful ministers of the Word, the gifts to the Church, and gifts of the Spirit.

v. 15—The work was finished, the temple was built. It took 4.5 years to finish after the new start was made. The total time from start to finish was 22 years approximately.

v. 16-18—The house is dedicated with joy, but not with tears. The sacrifices offered seem a lot, but when compared with the sacrifices Solomon offered they are as nothing. Yet God accepted them. They brought offerings commensurate with their ability—1 Corinthians 16:2.

v. 19—They kept the Passover. This reminded them of salvation through the blood.

v. 20—The priests and Levites were pure, holy.

This is an example for all God’s servants in every age. If we expect God’s blessing then we must be clean, sanctified and cleansed by the washing of water by the Word—Ephesians 5:26.

1 John 1—Confession cleanses us from all unrighteousness.

v. 21—Not only did they purify themselves but they separated themselves from the worldly nations around. Those who were in this condition kept the Passover and ate the feast.

v. 22—During the seven days of the feast all leaven was cast out. This was strictly enforced and adhered to. This celebration typifies the holy life that ought to follow the receiving of Christ. 1 Corinthians 5:7-8. “Purge out the old leaven.”

The Lord made them joyful. He turned the heart of the king toward them. He strengthened their hands for the work of the Lord.