Ezra 5: Lessons from the Temple Rebuilding for How to Respond to Adversity and Jesus’ Calling

Introduction: The devil had succeeded in delaying the rebuilding of the Temple for 16 years. The Jews sadly gave up in response to these difficulties. God responded by raising up prophets to encourage and rebuke the Jews. Today, the devil will also create difficulties in the hope that you will give up on serving Jesus. From the Jews’ response to the prophets, Jesus reveals seven lessons for responding to His calling to serve Him. These include: (1) faith, (2) obedience, (3) perseverance, (4) Spirit-led courage, (5) confession of sin, (6) gratitude, and (7) evangelism.

First, after the Jews gave up on their attempts to serve and build the Temple, God sent the prophets Haggai and Zechariah to encourage and exhort the Jews to hear God’s calling to service Him. Jesus also calls upon every person to have faith in His call to service. Second, the leaders Zerubbabel and Jeshua responded to these callings by leading the Jews to resume their Temple rebuilding. Jesus also calls every believer to obey His calling and faithfully serve Him. Third, when the Jews faced renewed opposition, the leaders and the Jews persisted in their faith. Jesus also calls upon believers to persevere in their faith. Fourth, after hearing God’s Word through the prophets, the Jews boldly proclaimed to be acting on God’s behalf in response to the charges leveled against them Jesus also gives believers Spirit-led courage to serve Him. Fifth, the Jews confessed that God allowed the first Temple to be destroyed because of their sins. Jesus also calls every believer to humbly confess their sins. Sixth, the Jews were honored to serve the Creator of the universe, who proclaimed in advance that he would use King Cyrus II 150 years before his birth to free the Jews. Jesus also calls believers to serve Him with reverent gratitude. Finally, the Jews invited King Darius I to read King Cyrus II’s proclamation, which revealed Yahweh as the sovereign God. Jesus also calls upon believers to share their faith with others.

1. Faith: Jesus Calls Upon Every Believer to Have Faith in His Call to Serve Him. Ezra 5:1.

  • God’s prophets called upon the Jews to have faith and resume the Temple building. After a 16-year delay in the Temple rebuilding, God raised up the prophets Haggai and Zechariah to encourage, exhort and rebuke the Jews into resuming the Temple building: “1 When the prophets, Haggai the prophet and Zechariah the son of Iddo, prophesied to the Jews who were in Judah and Jerusalem in the name of the God of Israel, who was over them,” (Ezra 5:1). The prophet Haggai began to preach during the second year of King Darius II’s reign, circa 520 B.C. (Hag. 1:1, 13; 2:3-5). The prophet Zechariah also began to preach that same year (Zech. 1:1). They urged the Jews and their leaders Zerubbabel and Jeshua, to “take courage” and finish God’s calling to rebuild the Temple (Hag. 2:4). The Temple rebuilding began again that year in response to their preaching.

  • The Jews gave into Satan’s efforts to give up on their work for God. During the reign of Cyrus II, the Temple opponents acting under Satan’s influence caused the Jews to become “discouraged” “and frightened.” (Ezra 4:4). The opponents also bribed officials to thwart their efforts (Ezra 4:5). During the reign of King Ahasuerus, aka Xerxes I, they made accusations against the Jews (Ezra 4:6). During the reign of Artaxerxes I, they united in a conspiracy against the Jews (Ezra 4:7-10). As part of their conspiracy, they used lies and half-truths to convince King Artaxerxes I to stop the Temple rebuilding (Ezra 4:11-16). King Artaxerxes I believed these lies and responded by issuing a decree to stop all Temple work (Ezra 4:17-22). With his decree, the opponents then used Persian soldiers to stop all rebuilding work (Ezra 4:23-24). Thus, from at least 536 B.C. until 520 B.C., all work on the Temple ceased. God responded by sending His prophets.

Haggai and Zechariah encouraged Zerubbabel to finish building the Temple1

  • The prophet Haggai rebuked the Jews for confusing Satan’s efforts with God’s will. Through the prophet Haggai, God rebuked those who used the devil’s opposition to allege that it must it must have been God’s will to delay the Temple rebuilding process: “2 Thus says the LORD of hosts, ‘This people says, ‘The time has not come, even the time for the house of the LORD to be rebuilt.’’ 3 Then the word of the LORD came by Haggai the prophet, saying, ‘4 Is it time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses while this house lies desolate?’ 5Now therefore, thus says the LORD of hosts, ‘Consider your ways! ‘6 You have sown much, but harvest little; you eat, but there is not enough to be satisfied; you drink, but there is not enough to become drunk; you put on clothing, but no one is warm enough; and he who earns, earns wages to put into a purse with holes. 7 Thus says the LORD of hosts, ‘Consider your ways! 8’Go up to the mountains, bring wood and rebuild the temple, that I may be pleased with it and be glorified,’’’ says the LORD.’” (Hagg. 1:2-6). God does sometimes call upon believers to be patient. Yet, in this case, He announced that it was His will to have the Jews return and rebuild the Temple (Ezra 1:1-4). Thus, they did not need to question if this was God’s will. They gave up because their faith had failed them. This made their other acts of piety worthless before God: “And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.” (Heb. 11:6). You should not follow the Jews’ mistake by letting your circumstances cause you to doubt God’s will. Instead, to discern His will, you must read His Word and pray (Ps. 119:105; Jam. 1:5). Are you regularly reading God’s Word and praying for His guidance?

  • The prophet Zechariah rebuked the Jews for their disobedient hearts. Through the prophet Zechariah, God revealed that His focus was not on the need for a Temple. “Thus says the LORD, ‘Heaven is My throne and the earth is My footstool. Where then is a house you could build for Me? And where is a place that I may rest?” (Is. 66:1). God’s real concern was that they had not learned from their forefathers the consequences of their disobedience: “Therefore say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts, ‘Return to Me,’’ declares the Lord of hosts, ‘that I may return to you,’ says the Lord of hosts. ‘Do not be like your fathers, to whom the former prophets proclaimed, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts, ‘Return now from your evil ways and from your evil deeds.’’ But they did not listen or give heed to Me,’ declares the Lord. ‘Your fathers, where are they? And the prophets, do they live forever?’” (Zech. 1:3-5). As one commentator observes: “Haggai’s prophecy was a more direct encouragement to get busy on the work of building the temple; Zechariah’s prophecy was more directed to the spiritual condition of the returned exiles. . . . If all we had was Haggai to go by, we might conclude that all God was really interested in was the temple. Zechariah gives the rest of the story, and shows how God is interested in lives, not only buildings.” (David Guzik on Ezra 5).2

  • God has called each person to serve as co-builders of His Church. The Temple foreshadowed Jesus (Jo. 2:20-21). The rebuilding of the Temple therefore foreshowed the building of His Church. Today, He seeks believers to co-build His Church: “For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building.” (1 Cor. 3:9). Like the Jews who were called to rebuild His Temple, every believer has been called to serve Jesus: “Like every spiritual advance, from Abraham’s to the mission expansion in Acts, the venture began with a word from the Lord.” (D. Kidner, Ezra and Nehemiah: An Introduction and Commentary. TOTC. Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 1979, p. 53). Being a spectator is not a spiritual gift. Have you accepted Jesus’ calling to serve?

  • Jesus loves you and also called you while you were still a sinner. Just like these Jews, Jesus also loves you and called you while you were still a sinner: “For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. . . . But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Ro. 5:6, 8). Like these Jews, you are called upon to accept and confirm God’s calling in your life: “Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble;” (2 Pet. 1:10). “knowing, brethren beloved by God, His choice of you;” (1 Thess. 1:4). Have you fully responded to His calling in your life? Or, are you clinging to your old life?

2. Obedience: Jesus Calls Every Believer to Obey and Faithfully Serve Him. Ezra 5:2.

  • The Jewish leaders responded to God’s calling in faith to resume the Temple building. God’s Word convicted and encouraged the Jews to have the faith to resume their work: “then Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel and Jeshua the son of Jozadak arose and began to rebuild the house of God which is in Jerusalem; and the prophets of God were with them supporting them.” (Ezra 5:2). Zerubbabel and Jeshua had the initial wisdom to reject the help of the deceitful local Samaritans, who sought to ensure that the future Temple included both pagan and Jewish worship (Ezra 4:1-3). Yet, they faded from any significant leadership role when the Jews began to experience fear, discouragement, lies and the oppression of leaders who opposed God’s will. If leaders today fail to step forward in faith to protect their flocks from Satan’s attacks, they should not be surprised when their flock turns from serving God. Thus, selecting Spirit-led leaders is important.

  • Faith without works is dead. If the Jews had not responded to the encouragement and rebuke of the prophets, the Temple would never have been built. Satan would have won the battle. If Jews had ignored God’s calling, their faith would also have been dead: “Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself.” (Ja. 2:17). If someone were to examine your works for Jesus, would they proclaim that your faith is alive and well?

  • God’s Word – the antidote to fear and lacking faith. God’s Word through the prophets was all that the Jews needed to snap out of their fear. Even the leaders needed to be rebuked and encouraged with God’s Word. Where do you find your faith when, like the Jews, it is lacking and you feel afraid? “[F]aith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.” (Ro. 10:17). The next time you fear, recite God’s promises: “Do not fear for I am with you; do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand . . . Do not fear, I will help you.” (Is. 41:10, 13). “For I know the plans I have for you . . . plans for welfare and not calamity to give you a future and a hope.” (Jer. 29:11). Faith is like a muscle, it will either be built up or atrophy depending upon whether you read the Word. Are you regularly reading the Word to build up your faith?

  • Jesus is not your Lord if you refuse to do what He says. The Jews believed that they were faithful for returning to Jerusalem. Yet, they were still disobedient. A believer may proclaim Jesus as Lord. Yet, Jesus is not your Lord if you disobey Him: “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter.” (Matt. 7:21). “Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?” (Lk. 6:46). “But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves.” (Jam. 1:22). “Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock.” (Matt. 7:24). “Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand.” (Matt. 7:26). Is your faith evidenced through obedience to Jesus’ Word?

3. Perseverance: Jesus Calls Upon Every Believer to Persevere in Their Faith. Ezra 5:3-5.

  • The devil stirred up new attempts to delay the Temple, but God kept the process going. As soon as rebuilding began, the devil stirred up a Persian governor to make inquiries and potentially stop the building process. Yet, because the Jews persevered in faith for God in response to His prophets, He ensured that the building process continued: “At that time Tattenai, the governor of the province beyond the River, and Shethar-bozenai and their colleagues came to them and spoke to them thus, ‘Who issued you a decree to rebuild this temple and to finish this structure?’ Then we told them accordingly what the names of the men were who were reconstructing this building. But the eye of their God was on the elders of the Jews, and they did not stop them until a report could come to Darius, and then a written reply be returned concerning it.” (Ezra 5:3-5). Tattenai was the Persian governor responsible for the territory west of the “River”. This referenced the Persian territory from the Euphrates River to the Mediterranean Sea. Shethar-boznai, his assistant, and his colleagues most likely acted in response to new complaints from the elders in Samaria and other Jewish opponents. Yet, unlike other leaders, Tattenai made inquiries without a hatred toward the Jews. Thus, God influenced him to allow the building to continue while he sent an official inquiry to King Darius I.

The Persian governor Tattenai attempted to stop the renewed Temple building3

  • God watches over His people and supports those who do His work. When the elders stood up in faith, “the eye of their God was on” them, and the Persian official “not stop them” while he prepared an official inquiry for King Darius (Ezra 5:5). The “eye of the LORD” is an expression that refers to both God’s omnipresence and His willingness to help those who step out in faith to serve Him: “For the eyes of the LORD move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His . . .” (2 Chr. 16:9(a)). “Behold, the eye of the LORD is on those who fear Him, on those who hope for His lovingkindness,” (Ps. 33:18). “The eyes of the LORD are toward the righteous and His ears are open to their cry.” (Ps. 34:15; 1 Pet. 3:12). “The eyes of the LORD are in every place, watching the evil and the good.” (Prov. 15:3). If you are serving God faithfully, He sees you and will support your efforts.

  • Let God use your trials to build up the perseverance of your faith. God tested the Jews with these trials so that they would learn to place their faith in Him. Your trials should also produce perseverance and endurance: “And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance;” (Ro. 5:3). “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.” (Jam. 1:2-3). Paul faced a harder trial when he faced death in Asia. But he advised that God put him through trials so that he would rely upon Him and not his own strength: “For we do not want you to be unaware, brethren, of our affliction which came to us in Asia, that we were burdened excessively, beyond our strength, so that we despaired even of life; indeed, we had the sentence of death within ourselves so that we would not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead; . . . He on whom we have set our hope. And He will yet deliver us,” (2 Cor. 1:8-10). Are you turning to Jesus to build up your faith so that you can persevere in the face of trials?

4. Spirit-led Courage: Jesus Gives Believers Spirit-led Courage to Serve. Ezra 5:6-11.

  • The Jews boldly claimed to act on God's behalf to Tattenai. Having learned from the prophets’ rebuke, the Jews boldly proclaimed to be acting on God’s behalf in response to the charges leveled against them: “This is the copy of the letter which Tattenai, the governor of the province beyond the River, and Shethar-bozenai and his colleagues the officials, who were beyond the River, sent to Darius the king. They sent a report to him in which it was written thus: ‘To Darius the king, all peace. Let it be known to the king that we have gone to the province of Judah, to the house of the great God, which is being built with huge stones, and beams are being laid in the walls; and this work is going on with great care and is succeeding in their hands. Then we asked those elders and said to them thus, ‘Who issued you a decree to rebuild this temple and to finish this structure?’ 10 We also asked them their names so as to inform you, and that we might write down the names of the men who were at their head. 11 Thus they answered us, saying, ‘We are the servants of the God of heaven and earth and are rebuilding the temple that was built many years ago, which a great king of Israel built and finished.’’” (Ezra 5:6-11). The Jews saw themselves as God’s servants in restoring the Temple at its holy location. At this same place, Abraham offered his son Isaac as a sacrifice (Heb. 11:17-19). At this same place, an angel ordered David to build an altar to atone for the Jews’ sins (2 Sam. 24:16-18). Between 966 and 969 B.C., Solomon built the first Temple (1 Kgs. 5-7). During the Temple dedication, God’s Shekinah glory filled the Temple (2 Chr. 7:1). Near this same place, Jesus would also be sacrificed for our sins (Jo. 3:16).

  • Be bold in your witness for Jesus. The “huge stones, and beams” (Ezra 5:8) likely fueled suspicion and allegations that the Jews were building a fortress to be used against the Persians. Even though they faced possible retribution, the Jews freely disclosed their names to Tattenai (Ezra 5:4). They also did not hide their faith in Yahweh when this Persian would have believed his own gods to be superior (Ezra 5:11). A more political approach would have at least paid lip service to the Persian gods. One commentator observes that Tattenai was impressed with the Jews’ integrity, candor, and the boldness of their faith: “The Jews gave good testimony. They did not hide their allegiance to God. Here the Jews saw themselves as continuing something that was done nearly five hundred years before by King Solomon.” (Mervin Breneman, The New American Commentary, Vol. 10, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther (B&H Publishing Group 1993) p. 111).

  • When you put your faith in Jesus, He will give you His strength and courage to face evil. When you step out in faith to serve Jesus, He can also give you the strength and courage to face ridicule: “For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline.” (2 Tim. 1:7). “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” (Phil. 4:13). “And looking at them Jesus said to them, ‘With people this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”’ (Matt. 19:26; Mk. 10:27; Lk. 18:27). If you are mocked for following God’s Word, are you praying for Jesus’ strength to ignore these attacks?

5. Confession of Sin: Jesus Calls Every Believer to Humbly Confess Their Sins. Ezra 5:12.

  • The Jews confessed their sin. As a sign of their humility and their spiritual growth, the Jews confessed their sins and their responsibility for the prior Temple’s destruction: “12 But because our fathers had provoked the God of heaven to wrath, He gave them into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, the Chaldean, who destroyed this temple and deported the people to Babylon.” (Ezra 5:12). The Jews who first settled in the Promised Land assumed that God would never let an enemy defeat them and destroy their kingdom. But they ignored God’s many warnings that rebellion would lead to exile.

The Jews confessed and accepted God’s prior judgment4

  • The Jews finally confessed their prior sins. As part of God’s judgment upon the people of Judah, He allowed Nebuchadnezzar II to burn Jerusalem, including God’s Temple (2 Kgs. 25:8-12; 2 Chr. 36:17-19; Jer. 39:1-10; 52:1-23). This purified the Temple from the false worship that had gone on within it. It also fulfilled a prophesy that His house would be burned (1 Kgs. 9:7-8). Nebuchadnezzar II also looted whatever treasures he could find in the Temple and Judah (2 Kgs. 24:13-14). The Jews’ exile fulfilled multiple prophesies that Moses gave to the Jews before they ever entered the Promised Land (Dt. 28:64; 4:27-28; 29:28; 32:26; Lev. 26:33). To warn the people and to give them an another opportunity to repent, the prophet Jeremiah also warned that the Babylonians would soon send the people of Judah into exile (Jer. 5:19; 17:4; 13:19; 20:4; 42:18; 50:17; Ezek. 12:3; 22:15; Neh. 1:8). But the Jews ignored these multiple specific warnings and opportunities to repent. The Jews’ 70-year exile was based upon the exact number of Sabbaths (once every seven years) that the Jews failed to observe in the Promised Land (Ex. 23:10-11; Lev. 26:34-35; Jer. 25:11-13; 29:10). God tested the Jews to expose their sins: “for God has come in order to test you, and in order that the fear of Him may remain with you, so that you may not sin.” (Ex. 20:20(b); Dt. 8:2). One would have assumed that the Jews would have confessed their sins as they were carried off into exile. But they didn’t. Or, one might have assumed that they would have confessed their sins while being forced to live as slaves in exile. Yet, the Jews again failed to confess their sins. The Jews sadly failed to confess their complete responsibility for the destruction of the Temple and their exile until the rebuilding process stopped.

  • God’s Word convicts of sin. Zechariah’s rebuke caused the Jews to finally repent: “Then they repented and said, ‘As the Lord of hosts purposed to do to us in accordance with our ways and our deeds, so He has dealt with us.”’ (Zech. 1:6). God’s Word is able to pierce the heart and convict a person of their sins. “For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” (Heb. 4:12). ‘“Is not My word like fire?’ declares the LORD, ‘and like a hammer which shatters a rock?”’ (Jer. 23:29). “Therefore I have hewn them in pieces by the prophets; I have slain them by the words of My mouth; and the judgments on you are like the light that goes forth.” (Hos. 6:5). The Holy Spirit then convicts the person of their sins: “And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment;” (Jo. 16:8). Like the Jews, Jesus calls you to repent of your sins.

  • If a nation repents and turns back to God, He will deliver it. Jesus began His ministry with a call to repentance: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matt. 3:2). God promises to deliver any nation trapped in its sins if it repents: “and My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” (2 Chr. 7:14). It is the role of the Church to pray and be His salt and light in leading the nation to repent. Is your church fasting and praying for your nation to repent?

6. Gratitude: Jesus Calls Believers to Serve Him with Reverent Gratitude. Ezra 5:13-16.

  • The Jews proclaimed God’s sovereignty in using King Cyrus II. Although the devil had tried to stop the Temple rebuilding, the Jews pointed out that God had used King Cyrus II to order the Temple rebuilding and to return the gold items still in his possession. They were grateful to serve the Creator of the universe, who is sovereign over everyone: “13 However, in the first year of Cyrus king of Babylon, King Cyrus issued a decree to rebuild this house of God. 14 Also the gold and silver utensils of the house of God which Nebuchadnezzar had taken from the temple in Jerusalem, and brought them to the temple of Babylon, these King Cyrus took from the temple of Babylon and they were given to one whose name was Sheshbazzar, whom he had appointed governor. 15 He said to him, ‘Take these utensils, go and deposit them in the temple in Jerusalem and let the house of God be rebuilt in its place.’ 16 Then that Sheshbazzar came and laid the foundations of the house of God in Jerusalem; and from then until now it has been under construction and it is not yet completed.’” (Ezra 5:13-16). The Persians controlled the Temple gold that Nebuchadnezzar II had seized from the Jews (2 Chr. 36:17-19). This gold would have been extremely valuable for the Persian empire. But King Cyrus II was moved by God’s prophecies identifying him as His servant before his birth (Is. 45:1; 44:28-45:4). Thus, he confessed God’s sovereignty (Ezra 1:2). He further ordered the return of the gold items from the Temple to assist in the rebuilding (Ezra 1:7-11). The Jews were confident that King Darius I would agree that King Cyrus II would not have allowed the Jews to leave with the valuable captured Temple gold without his official consent.

  • Serve with gratitude because Jesus selected you to serve Him. Although the Jews’ words to Tattenai were not a formal song of praise, their words had the same effect. Like the Jews who rebuilt the Temple, you are called upon to show gratitude and reverence for the chance to serve the Creator of heaven and Earth, the source of your eternal life: “But we should always give thanks to God for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth.” (2 Thess. 2:13). “in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thess. 5:18). “always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father;” (Eph. 5:20). Are you honored that the Creator of the universe has called you to serve Him? Are you praising His mighty power before non-believers? Or, does service feel like a burden to you?

7. Evangelism: Jesus Calls Upon Believers to Share Their Faith With Others. Ezra 5:17.

  • The Jews invite King Darius I to test their claims. Because the Jews acted in faith, they exhorted King Darius I, through Tattenai, to verify that their words were true: “17 Now if it pleases the king, let a search be conducted in the king’s treasure house, which is there in Babylon, if it be that a decree was issued by King Cyrus to rebuild this house of God at Jerusalem; and let the king send to us his decision concerning this matter.’” (Ezra 5:17). In 538 B.C., King Cyrus II issued this decree (Ezra 1:1-2; 5:13-17). His decree is also recorded in Chronicles (2 Chr. 36:22-23). It is further recorded in Persian records. In 522 B.C., Darius I (“the Great”) (522—486 B.C.), took control over the Persian Empire after a usurper named Gaumata briefly took control over the throne. God then softened Darius I’s heart, and he allowed the Temple construction to resume (Ezra 6). The Jews knew the law of the Persians. Once a king had issued a decree, they could not revoke it: “Now, O king, establish the injunction and sign the document so that it may not be changed, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which may not be revoked.” (Dan. 6:8; 6:12; Esther 1:19; 8:8). Thus, it was unlawful for King Artaxerxes I to issue a decree to stop all Temple work (Ezra 4:17-22). It was also unlawful for the Persian soldiers to use that decree to stop all Temple rebuilding work (Ezra 4:23-24).

  • The Jews forced Darius I to read Cyrus II’s declarations about Yahweh. While God allowed the Jews to experience delays to cause them to draw closer to Him in their faith, the delay served an additional purpose. It forced King Darius I to read Cryus II’s proclamation that Yahweh was God: “‘Thus says Cyrus king of Persia, ‘The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth and He has appointed me to build Him a house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah.”’ (Ezra 1:2). Darius I might have wondered why he would use such words when he followed Persian gods. More importantly, he would have wondered why Cryus II would give the Jews the Persians’ gold. He would have likely learned that the prophet Isaiah foretold of Cyrus II’s victory over Babylon approximately 150 years before he was even born (Is. 45:1; 44:28-45:4). God’s power is sharper than a two-edged sword (Heb. 4:12). We know that this impacted Darius I because he quickly ordered the Temple to be finished (Ezra 6:1-8).

  • God also wants you to publicly confess your faith in Jesus. Like the Jews, God also wants you to publicly confess your faith and agreement to follow Jesus (Ro. 10:8-9). If you confess Jesus to be Lord and Savior before others, Jesus in turn will confess you in heaven (Lk. 12:8; Matt. 10:32). What are you saying about Jesus to others?

  • Like the Jews, be a light to non-believers around you. Some mistakenly believe that the call to evangelism began in the New Testament. Yet, God originally called upon the Jews to be His light to the gentile nations around them: “He says, ‘It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to restore the preserved ones of Israel; I will also make You a light of the nations so that My salvation may reach to the end of the earth.”’ (Is. 49:6). “For so the Lord has commanded us, ‘I have placed you as a light for the gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the end of the Earth.’” (Acts 13:47). The Jews showed His love by sharing God’s Word. Jesus is the “true light” (Jo. 1:9). He is also the Light of the World (Jo. 8:12). Like the Jews, are you sharing Jesus’ true light to non-believers around you? (Matt. 28:16-20).