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Read Ezra 5

Tattenai’s Letter to Darius

Now Haggai the prophet and Zechariah the prophet, a descendant of Iddo, prophesied to the Jews in Judah and Jerusalem in the name of the God of Israel, who was over them. 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.

At that time Tattenai, governor of Trans-Euphrates, and Shethar-Bozenai and their associates went to them and asked, “Who authorized you to rebuild this temple and to finish it?” They also asked, “What are the names of those who are constructing this building?” But the eye of their God was watching over the elders of the Jews, and they were not stopped until a report could go to Darius and his written reply be received.

This is a copy of the letter that Tattenai, governor of Trans-Euphrates, and Shethar-Bozenai and their associates, the officials of Trans-Euphrates, sent to King Darius. The report they sent him read as follows:

To King Darius:

Cordial greetings.

The king should know that we went to the district of Judah, to the temple of the great God. The people are building it with large stones and placing the timbers in the walls. The work is being carried on with diligence and is making rapid progress under their direction.

We questioned the elders and asked them, “Who authorized you to rebuild this temple and to finish it?” 10 We also asked them their names, so that we could write down the names of their leaders for your information.

11 This is the answer they gave us:

“We are the servants of the God of heaven and earth, and we are rebuilding the temple that was built many years ago, one that a great king of Israel built and finished. 12 But because our ancestors angered the God of heaven, he gave them into the hands of Nebuchadnezzar the Chaldean, king of Babylon, who destroyed this temple and deported the people to Babylon.

13 “However, in the first year of Cyrus king of Babylon, King Cyrus issued a decree to rebuild this house of God. 14 He even removed from the temple of Babylon the gold and silver articles of the house of God, which Nebuchadnezzar had taken from the temple in Jerusalem and brought to the temple in Babylon. Then King Cyrus gave them to a man named Sheshbazzar, whom he had appointed governor, 15 and he told him, ‘Take these articles and go and deposit them in the temple in Jerusalem. And rebuild the house of God on its site.’

16 “So this Sheshbazzar came and laid the foundations of the house of God in Jerusalem. From that day to the present it has been under construction but is not yet finished.”

17 Now if it pleases the king, let a search be made in the royal archives of Babylon to see if King Cyrus did in fact issue a decree to rebuild this house of God in Jerusalem. Then let the king send us his decision in this matter.

Go Deeper

In order to better understand this chapter, we need to first remember how the previous chapter ended. King Artaxerxes had just ordered the people of God to stop rebuilding the temple, and, for about 10 years, the project had come to a “standstill” (v. 24). However, chapter 5 begins with a brand new hope for the rebuilding efforts. Haggai and Zechariah have prophesied to the Jewish people and encouraged them to restart on the mission of building the temple. But once the project begins again, the project once more runs into opposition from the governing authorities. This external threat is a discouraging reminder of what kept the temple from being built in the first place. This obstruction effort is an essential lesson for the people of God. As we seek to faithfully follow God, we should not expect to live our lives unopposed by the enemy.  When God calls on His people to complete a task, we should expect Satan to do whatever he can to keep the task from reaching its fulfillment. 

In Ezra, the opposition comes in the form of the ruling government. But even those leaders who stood in authority weren’t the ones in ultimate control.  While the governor tried to shut the project down, the eye of their God was watching over the elders of the Jews, and they were not stopped” (v. 5). Upon receiving push back, the Jewish people could have easily put down their tools just as they did 10 years before. However, this time they decide to continue, in courageous faith, with their mission. 

An essential lesson from this chapter that can impact our lives today is that resistance doesn’t mean something is wrong. If it feels difficult to obediently follow Jesus, remember that it should be expected more than it should be surprising. While Jesus promised that His burden is easy, He also asks us to pick up our cross each day. Even though we may encounter external or internal opposition to following God, we have the assurance that the eyes of God are watching over us. Today, we have an opportunity similar to that of the Jewish people: In the face of resistance, we don’t need to put faithfulness on pause. Instead, we can double down on obedience and choose to follow God even when it’s difficult.  

Why do you think the Jewish people were willing to continue working on this mission in the face of resilience? 

Questions

  1. What most sticks out to you in the letter to King Darius? 
  2. Where do you feel like you are receiving resistance in your attempt to follow God? 
  3. What can you do to make sure you don’t give up in the face of such resistance? 

Did You Know?

Both prophets listed in verse 1 (Haggai and Zechariah) have written books of the Bible. To read more about their life and message, check out the books titled with their names! 

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7 thoughts on “Ezra 5”

  1. Sharon Shashidharan

    Today’s reading helped me. When they were asked why they were building the temple, the people spoke honestly, that’s something that I can’t overlook. The Jews also provided detailed information so that it could be cross checked. This is not man’s doing or wisdom, it’s God guidance. Thank you for this Bible plan. I knew Bible was accurate, but yet I’m amazed when I read Ezra. The letters, the details 👌

  2. What most stood out to me was the reply the Jews gave to governing officials when asked why they were rebuilding the temple:
    -They made it clear who they were and who God was, servants of the God of heaven and earth.
    -The owned their part in the destruction of the 1st temple as their fathers had angered the God of heaven through disobedience, resulting in the destruction of the temple and their captivity.
    -They knew and presented factual information regarding King Cyrus and his decree to rebuild the temple on its original site.
    I sensed a humble yet confident stand they took in the face of resistance, leaving the results to God.
    What a model for us to follow! Let’s know Whose we are, own our part, & be diligent to hide God’s word in our hearts. 2 Timothy 4:2 says “Proclaim the message, persist in it whether it is convenient or not, rebuke, correct, and encourage with great patience and teaching.”

  3. I rejoice!
    And the Lord speaks to me in Ezra 5, in words that resonate in my heart and soul.
    With an infants understanding of His word, I often struggle with what He is telling me, especially in the OT.
    But today!
    We are the temple. Our bodies. Even mine. The world is full of resistance to building the temple for Gods glory. That resistance is shapeshifting and comes in many forms.
    Father, today I seek innumerable opportunities to rebuild your temple, in me, to your glory, and the benefit of your kingdom.
    Without question I have taken part in the destruction of the kingdom and the temple, much to His displeasure. Today, through conscious effort, we will continue the good work to repair said destruction.
    As I work to rebuild what He has given me, I pray, even in some small way, I be given an opportunity to reflect Your mercy to those I encounter.
    Thank you Father for a strong word that speaks true. May my cup be full and spill over to your glory!

  4. Honestly, the letter written sounds a lot like the world we live in today. We are trying to rebuild in America what we once had, and now to be a follower of Jesus is questioned big time. But our God will always prevail. <3

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