2002-07-09 - Building Eternally
Ezra 6:9 And whatever is needed, both young bulls, rams, and lambs for a burnt offering to the God of heaven, and wheat, salt, wine, and anointing oil, as the priests in Jerusalem request, it is to be given to them daily without fail.
The above verse, in itself, may seem to be unremarkable, but when we examine it in the context of the passage in which it is found it becomes amazingly profound. I have been reading Ezra as part of my devotional times this past week and I found this passage to be quite remarkable. I will give a quick summary so we can get the context of the verse before we examine it and apply it to our hearts.
Cyrus, king of Persia, decrees that the Temple should be rebuilt in Jerusalem. The work is begun. Darius becomes king of Persia and Tattenai, and Shethar-bozenai (Ezra 5:6), who are against the reconstruction of the Temple of God write Darius and inform him about what is going on. They expect him to put an immediate stop to the work. Darius searches the archives and finds the decree of Cyrus to rebuild the Temple.
Darius writes those back who are against the building of the Temple, and not only tells them to leave the workers alone, but demands that the very ones who are against this effort and trying to put a stop to it, do everything in their power to support the effort. Darius tells them, "Whatever they need to advance the work, you are to give it to them daily." Darius even backs up his decree with the pronouncement that to not support the needs of those building the Temple will be punishable by death (Ezra 6:11).
Clearly this is not what those who wrote Darius expected. Their goal was to thwart the progress of the work of God in building the Temple and it backfired on them miserably. Not only did they find themselves having to let the work of God proceed, but even more, they were now required to support this work on pain of death. They learned the hard way what David said in Psalm 24:1, "The earth is the Lord's, and all it contains, the world, and those who dwell in it." See also Exodus 9:29, where Moses says the same thing.
Besides learning here that God's plans are past frustrating there are at least two other things we can glean from this passage. One is that we don't want to be found on the wrong side of the plan of God, and the second is the positive of the first, which is that we do want to be found serving God within His will.
God's plan to rebuild the Temple was never in jeopardy. It may have looked like it for a while because the letter Tattenai and the other officials sent was very critical of the loyalty and faithfulness of the Israelites to those who had ruled them in the past. But God's plans are never in jeopardy. "By me kings reign, and rulers decree justice," Proverbs 8:15. Tattenai and his cohorts learned this lesson the hard way. We need to seek to learn from them and not repeat the mistakes they made.
We know what it is to follow God and what it is to go against His will in many areas of our lives. We know these things if we are students of His Word, the Bible. If we ignore the Bible we are without excuse and may sadly find ourselves to be fighting against God and His will. This is to always be on the losing side. And while it is often fun to root for the underdog, to fight against God is not to side with the underdog. Rather it is to join the side that already lost. The battle is long over. We have the great privilege, however, of contributing to God's work in this world and being used of Him for the building of His Kingdom. Let us seek to do all we can to support the progress of the work of God as He advances His cause and Kingdom in this world.
Soli Deo Gloria,