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Thursday, January 7, 2021

Inspired by . . . Rebuilding

"Blessed be the LORD God of our fathers, which hath put such a thing as this in the king's heart, to beautify the house of the LORD which is in Jerusalem:" (Ezr 7:27)

The account in the book of Ezra of the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem is really quite remarkable. It begins with a decree by King Cyrus of Persia, releasing the captives that his ancestor, King Nebuchadnezzar had taken into exile seventy years before. Not only does King Cyrus release these valuable slaves to return to Jerusalem, but he also decrees that their neighbors should pay their way with silver, gold, livestock, and voluntary offerings! Even more, the king returned all the vessels of the house of the Lord that King Nebuchadnezzar had stolen. Quite a bounty!

If all of this sounds vaguely familiar, you may be remembering the exodus from Egypt. I wonder if the clan fathers of Judah and Benjamin cast a wary eye over their shoulders as they left Babylon for Jerusalem?

Unlike Pharoh, King Cyrus kept his word, and Ezra 3 records for us the great rejoicing that occurred as the first foundations of the Lord's house were laid!

However, despite the support of King Cyrus the returning Jews still faced opposition. Ezra 4 describes the hostility of those who acted against them. The people of the land even bribed officials at court to act against them. This went on throughout the reign of King Cyrus.

Just as soon as a new king came to power those who were hostile to the Jews sent a letter to King Cambyses containing half-truths about what was happening in Jerusalem. In response to this letter, the king immediately ordered a stop to the rebuilding.

Can you imagine the despair and disappointment? For fifteen long years, the Jews mourned over a partially built temple. 

Perhaps we can imagine the Israelites frustration. Their desire to do something, anything, to somehow force the hand of the king in their favor. After all, what act could be more in line with God's will than the rebuilding of the temple? The act of restoring of the sacrificial system and Passover celebration? Still, the Jews understood that these things must be done in God's timing and in God's way. They had just experienced seventy years in captivity because they had put their ways above God's ways. Then, in the proper time, God moved the heart of a new king, King Darius, to allow the rebuilding to continue.

Now, finally, God was moving! The temple was being restored! As you might imagine, the celebration of the re-dedication of the house of the Lord was done with great rejoicing!

Little did they know that they were on the cusp of 400 years of silence.

When God spoke again it wasn't to the heart of a king or the mind of a prophet. It was through an angel to a teenage girl. She had been waiting and all of Israel with her, for a Savior. 

But Jesus didn't come storming the gates and over-throwing governments. He came to conquer sin in the hearts of men and women. To raise a royal priesthood. An army of spirit-filled believers who live their lives in such a way that others take notice, and are drawn to the heart of God. 

And so we build His kingdom. Not an earthly kingdom but a heavenly one. An eternal kingdom.

It's heartbreaking and frustrating to watch the current events play out in our world today. And I'm not suggesting for a moment that we shouldn't care about them. But we need to hold loosely to things of this world. We need to wait, and read (His word), and pray.

We need to seek FIRST the kingdom of heaven. If we do that, God will take care of the rest. 
But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you." (Mat 6:33)


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If you read something here that inspired you, I’d love to hear about it. Please know I appreciate every comment! Thanks so much for stopping by! Blessings, June