"Now the prophets, Haggai and Zechariah the son of Iddo, prophesied to the Jews who were in Judah and Jerusalem, in the name of the God of Israel who was over them. Then Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel and Jeshua the son of Jozadak arose and began to rebuild the house of God that is in Jerusalem, and the prophets of God were with them, supporting them." Ezra 5:1-2 Nebuchadnezzar had looted Jerusalem and taken the holy vessels out of the Temple to put them in the treasury of the idols he worshiped in Babylon. Seventy years, Belshazzar, a descendant of his, used those same vessels to mockingly toast his idols at a drunken party in Babylon. Suddenly a hand appeared and wrote a message on the wall opposite the King’s table, telling him he had “been weighed in the balance and found wanting,” and that his kingdom would end immediately. That very night the Persian army entered and overthrew Babylon and killed Belshazzar. Cyrus, the Persian king, immediately issued a decree to allow the Jews to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the temple. He returned those same holy vessels to be replaced where they belonged. The first wave of returning exiles went, carrying those vessels with great joy, to begin the rebuilding. But once there, they ran into opposition and got discouraged. Their enemies got a new king to issue a cease-and-desist-order to stop the building, and the Jews got busy - each one building his own house. The Temple’s foundations had been laid and a makeshift altar set up, but for the next fourteen years nothing more was done. Now the time was right and two prophets, Haggai and Zechariah, were sent to encourage the people to finish the work. The people responded, the governor, Zerubbabel, and the High priest, Joshua, got on board as well. In less than a month, the work began again. The opposition was still there, but God overrode it with new legal decrees from Babylon and nothing would stop the project now. In God’s time, His work will go forward. Opposition will always be there; the world will always resist God’s Word and His Kingdom. But in those times when prayer, the proclamation of God’s Word, and open, believing hearts on the part of His people come together by His sovereign design, nothing can stop us. Lord, give us one of those moments. The opposition to Your Word is fierce in our time. Hatred and disdain for Your Kingdom are openly and proudly proclaimed, Christians are discouraged and feeling overwhelmed, but You are still the King of kings and Lord of lords. Give us preachers who are faithful, hearts that respond in humble faith, and authorities who seek to please You. Let Your Kingdom come, in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Pastor Dan Giles