Lord, no obstacle can stop You.
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
“Jesus wants me for a sunbeam” (Nellie Talbot)—not a doormat!
Opposition from the Jews’ enemies has halted work on rebuilding the temple. Now the work recommences under the prophetic ministries of Haggai and Zechariah, nearly 20 years later. Their preaching assuages Jewish fears and inspires fresh courage. Their message rekindles the zeal of the returned exiles’ leaders, reassuring them that this is a God-ordained endeavor. However, the regional governor Tattenai’s response threatens to mess up everything.
Tattenai’s unfavorable reaction has more to do with national security than with religious persecution. In most countries today, permits are required from local authorities before new building projects can be pursued. This ensures compliance with minimum health and safety standards. Such construction standards do not exist in Tattenai’s day. Rather, his question about the Jewish project’s authorization comes from his need to know that it is not the early signs of a local rebellion against the imperial order he represented. He was doing his duty!
How the Jews deal with this potential setback sets a shining example. They appeal to the empire’s highest authority, King Darius himself, acknowledging God’s involvement in their project, but also citing a previous king’s documented authorization for and collaboration with the enterprise. The present threat is real, but their reasonable and non-confrontational approach allows them to firmly state their case while remaining on the right side of the law. As such, their conduct is already compliant with a principle that would be established much later for Christians in the New Testament—submission to the ruling authorities (cf. Mark 12:13–17; Rom. 13:1–7; 1 Pet. 2:13–17). This does not mean we must always approve of our government’s actions, but it does urge us to be careful of how we speak of and respond to our rulers. And let us always take courage in this: God is sovereign over them all!
Do what “is good and pleases God our Savior” (1 Tim. 2:3) by praying now in line with the exhortation given in 1 Timothy 2:1,2!
Lord, give us the poise and savvy to deal with governmental opposition in such a way as to be effective and still please You.
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