Ezra 5

It is a sign that God has mercy in store for a people when He raises up men of God among them to encourage and help them in His work. When we cannot do what we would in His service, we should take courage and do all we can.

1 Then the prophets, Haggai the prophet, and Zechariah the son of Iddo, prophesied unto the Jews that were in Judah and Jerusalem in the name of the God of Israel, even unto them.

2 Then rose up Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Jeshua the son of Jozadak, and began to build the house of God which is at Jerusalem: and with them were the prophets of God helping them.

3 ¶ At the same time came to them Tatnai, governor on this side the river, and Shethar-boznai, and their companions, and said thus unto them, Who hath commanded you to build this house, and to make up this wall?

4 Then said we unto them after this manner, What are the names of the men that make this building?

5 But the eye of their God was upon the elders of the Jews, that they could not cause them to cease, till the matter came to Darius: and then they returned answer by letter concerning this matter.

6 ¶ The copy of the letter that Tatnai, governor on this side the river, and Shethar-boznai, and his companions the Apharsachites, which were on this side the river, sent unto Darius the king:

7 They sent a letter unto him, wherein was written thus; Unto Darius the king, all peace.

8 Be it known unto the king, that we went into the province of Judea, to the house of the great God, which is builded with great stones, and timber is laid in the walls, and this work goeth fast on, and prospereth in their hands.

9 Then asked we those elders, and said unto them thus, Who commanded you to build this house, and to make up these walls?

10 We asked their names also, to certify thee, that we might write the names of the men that were the chief of them.

11 And thus they returned us answer, saying, We are the servants of the God of heaven and earth, and build the house that was builded these many years ago, which a great king of Israel builded and set up.

12 But after that our fathers had provoked the God of heaven unto wrath, he gave them into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, the Chaldean, who destroyed this house, and carried the people away into Babylon.

13 But in the first year of Cyrus the king of Babylon the same king Cyrus made a decree to build this house of God.

14 And the vessels also of gold and silver of the house of God, which Nebuchadnezzar took out of the temple that was in Jerusalem, and brought them into the temple of Babylon, those did Cyrus the king take out of the temple of Babylon, and they were delivered unto one, whose name was Sheshbazzar, whom he had made governor;

15 And said unto him, Take these vessels, go, carry them into the temple that is in Jerusalem, and let the house of God be builded in his place.

16 Then came the same Sheshbazzar, and laid the foundation of the house of God which is in Jerusalem: and since that time even until now hath it been in building, and yet it is not finished.

17 Now therefore, if it seem good to the king, let there be search made in the king’s treasure house, which is there at Babylon, whether it be so, that a decree was made of Cyrus the king to build this house of God at Jerusalem, and let the king send his pleasure to us concerning this matter.

Ezra 5 – The Mission of Haggai and Zechariah

   It is necessary to read the books of Haggai and Zechariah to see what difficulties the leaders of the people had to meet, and how much they needed the help of the prophets. At last matters were brought to an issue by the failure of the crops, which gave the prophets additional arguments. When God’s judgments are abroad in the earth, men learn righteousness. As soon as the rebuilding began after a lapse of fifteen years, another letter was sent to the metropolis for advice. Tatnai appears to have been incited by the Samaritans, and he made a visit of personal inspection. His account of the proceedings is very graphic. The eye of God is on those whose hearts are perfect towards Him, Ezra 5:5; II Chronicles 16:9; Psalm 33:18. It is very well to imitate these elders in giving an answer in meekness and fear, but not terrified by our adversaries, I Peter 3:12, 15. If God has clearly set us to do work for Him, let us go through with it in spite of all human opposition. Storms are the methods by which He reveals our weakness and His all-sufficiency. The walls of the spiritual temple are built “in troublous times” (Daniel 9:25), but the work goeth fast on. The rulers of this world cannot understand and gnash impotently with their teeth, God’s plan shall stand, though earth be in arms to resist it. —Through the Bible Day by Day

Ezra 5:5—The eye of their God was upon the elders of the Jews.

   It was a delightful thought amid obloquy and opposition, like that which the Jews were at this moment encountering, to know that God was watching them with jealous care. We are reminded of the words of the Psalmist (Psalm 34:15-16), quoted and authenticated by the Apostle Peter (1 Peter 3:12), “The eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil.” And he goes on to argue (1 Peter 3:13), “Who is he that will harm you, if ye be followers of that which is good?” The Jews certainly found it so; for the efforts of their enemies to induce them to desist from their work of temple-building were rendered nugatory and ineffectual by the special care exercised over them by their Almighty Friend.
   It may be that you will have to encounter hatred and opposition in doing God’s work; but be sure not to look at these things, but steadfastly to Jesus. Must you not watch the foe? No; you could not make a greater mistake. You must look away to the face of Jesus, and you will find that He, like a good shepherd, is looking carefully and lovingly down on you, and watching the stealthy movements of your foe. Even when we are not directly conscious of that watchful eye, it still follows us. He knoweth the way that you take; and He is acquainted with the varied circumstances of your life. He has pledged Himself to be with you forever; as Wordsworth once said of his beloved daughter Dora:–
       “Dear child, fair child, that walkest with me here,
          Though thou appear untouched by solemn thought,
       Thy nature is not therefore less divine;
          Thou liest in Abraham’s bosom all the year,
       Thou worshippest at the temple’s inner shrine,
          God being with thee when thou knowest not.” —Our Daily Homily

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6 ¶ The ________ of the letter that Tatnai, ________________ on this side the __________, and Shethar-boznai, and his ____________________ the Apharsachites, which were on this ________ the river, sent unto Darius the king:

7 They sent a ____________ unto him, wherein was ______________ thus; Unto Darius the king, all __________.

8 Be it __________ unto the king, that we went into the province of Judea, to the house of the __________ God, which is builded with great ____________, and ____________ is laid in the walls, and this ________ goeth fast on, and ____________________ in their hands.