Ezra 5 – February 6
Welcome to our studies in Ezra and Nehemiah! These books will shine the light on God being in control of our world, moving us to do His work. Join our study by following along with the reading plan then reflecting and journaling on each day’s reading to humble yourself before Him and listen. Below is the NIV version of today’s reading followed by a SOAP journal note from one of our study leaders. If you’re wondering what SOAP is…it’s a method of Bible study that focuses on applying scripture to our every days. Read more about it on our website.
Ezra 5 – Tattenai’s Letter to Darius
5 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. 2 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.
3 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?” 4 They[a] also asked, “What are the names of those who are constructing this building?” 5 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.
6 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. 7 The report they sent him read as follows:
To King Darius: Cordial greetings. 8 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. 9 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.
STOP and GO | Becky Newman
The Hand of God is all over this! When He motions GO, they go; when He motions STOP, they stop, no matter pagan or faithful Jew. My Bible notes referred me to Haggai 1:7-11 and 2:15-19 for why Haggai and Zechariah were sent to prophecy to the faithful remnant (vs. 1). Yes, King Artaxerxes had stopped the work on the temple (chapter 4), but there’s a new king now, and they don’t seem to communicate their policies very well to one another, so a new king is a new opportunity. But, the faithful remnant had grown comfortable not working on the temple as they rebuilt their homes and careers instead. The prophets were sent to reignite their GO and re-focus them on God’s work. Perhaps they needed this STOP as a time of rest, to come back stronger in the next GO.
God has a reason for every STOP and every GO. God uses opposition to grow me stronger. Looking back for an example You brought me through — how about that time when my faith was stagnant though I was heavily involved in church? You stopped that! And You forced me into a 6-month period of rest from ministry, begrudgingly on my part. During this time, You grew my personal relationship with You so I could come back stronger, re-energized and re-focused for the new work You have for me. Wow, You are good! Perhaps the next time You STOP me, I will stop more willingly, knowing You have good things planned in the next GO.
Thank You, God, for a clear illustration of the work You are doing in me for the good of Your work. Help me to STOP and GO along with Your will and not take matters into my own hands. Your Way is always better!
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