Majestic God, bend down Your ear and hear my prayer today.
Read 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:
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[b] 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[c] 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.
a Ezra 5:4 See Septuagint; Aramaic We.
b Ezra 5:14 Or palace
c Ezra 5:14 Or palace
New International Version (NIV)
Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica
Reflect“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Prov. 9:10). Consider the power, the majesty, the glory of God.
Sixteen years went by after opposition halted construction and the Jews who had come back to Israel settled into life back home, albeit still under the rule of the Persian kings and their representatives. And then two prophets speak the Word of God to the Jews about restarting work: “Is it a time for you yourselves to be living in your paneled houses, while this house remains a ruin?” (Hag. 1:4). These prophets were under God (Ezra 5:1) and so the people got to work, without the necessary bureaucratic green light. They answered to their ultimate authority—the Lord.
Western culture in the 21st century is very uneasy about the whole concept of authority. We conceive of ourselves as autonomous individuals, masters of our own destinies. And yet Christian discipleship involves conscious, deliberate, continuous acts of submission to God, to our church leaders, within our marriages, and to the laws of our countries (when they don’t conflict with God’s law). We need to search our hearts and be honest about whom we answer to.
Is there an area in your life in which rightful obedience to authority would cost you personally? Will you make the choice to walk in obedience to God today?
Holy Spirit, teach me about godly submission and soften my heart to Your Word.