THE STORY chapter # 19
(My home church is participating in the study of THE STORY – The Bible As One Continuing Story Of God And His People. Foreword by Max Lucado and Randy Frazee. Each week, my Thursday post focuses on our current study chapter.)
Approximately sixty-six years after the first exiles were forced to leave Jerusalem, God touched king Cyrus of Persia’s heart. Cyrus issued a decree stating ‘…he [God] has appointed me to build a temple for him at Jerusalem in Judah.”
Nearly 50,000 people journeyed back. Everyone whose heart God had moved – prepared to go build the temple. They donated gold, silver, livestock and gave freewill offerings. And king Cyrus returned the articles of the temple of the LORD, which Nebuchadnezzar had carried off.
The alter was built first, so they could offer morning and evening sacrifices, and celebrate their festivals. Then the foundation of the temple was laid. A celebration followed this accomplishment, with great shouts of praise to the LORD.
Things were going so well, until the enemies of Judah and Benjamin heard what was happening. The enemies bribed officials to work against the laborers. Then, work on the temple came to a stand still until the second year of the reign of Darius, king of Persia. For approximately ten years, the work temple area laid quiet. No hammers, no chisels, no shouts of joy.
But again, God spoke. Through the prophet Haggai, the word of the LORD came: Go up into the mountains and bring down timber and build my house, so that I may take pleasure in it and be honored,” says theLORD. Haggai 1:8
God continued sending many encouraging messages through Haggai.“I am with you.” declares the LORD. Haggai 1:3
God also sent many messages through the prophet Zechariah: This is what the LORD Almighty says: “Now hear these words, ‘Let your hands be strong so that the temple may be built.’ This is also what the prophets said who were present when the foundation was laid for the house of the LORD Almighty. Zechariah 8:9 So the people resumed work on the temple.
However, as work continued, so do the rise to stop it. Tattenai, governor of Trans-Euphrates, sent word to king Darius to have the royal archives searched to see if a decree to rebuild the temple was ever issued by king Cyrus.
The search was conducted and a straightforward decree was found. It stated: the temple should be rebuilt, the required dimensions, specific materials to use, all expenses are to be paid by the royal treasury, Nebuchadnezzar’s stolen articles are to be returned to the temple, and anyone who defies the edict will be impaled with a beam from their own house!
Enough said! The temple was completed, almost 70 years after its destruction, and the people of Israel dedicated the rebuilt house of God with joy!
THE STORY foreword by Max Lucado & Randy Frazee