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A number of years have passed with no progress on the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem.  King Artaxerxes had stopped the progress as a result of lies and slander told to him about the Jews.  A new king was now in power.  King Darius had been reigning for just over a year when two prophets rose up and called the Jews to begin working again.

Haggai and Zechariah were God’s prophets.  They commanded the Jews to restart their project building God’s temple again saying, Then the word of the Lord came by the hand of Haggai the prophet, “Is it a time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, while this house lies in ruins? Now, therefore, thus says the Lord of hosts: Consider your ways. You have sown much, and harvested little. You eat, but you never have enough; you drink, but you never have your fill. You clothe yourselves, but no one is warm. And he who earns wages does so to put them into a bag with holes.” ~Haggai 1:3-6

Haggai tells the people that the reason their efforts are fruitless and their own plans amount to nothing is because they have neglected to build God’s house.  Haggai goes on to say that the reason all their hard work and labor has been destroyed by blight and hail and they have yielded nothing is because they offer God defiled offerings.  Therefore, he tells them to go, get building materials and begin working again.  Despite their troubles, God promises that now is the time for renewal.  Haggai encourages them saying, “…But from this day on I will bless you…” and “…for I have chosen you, declares the Lord of hosts.” ~Haggai 2:19, 23b

The prophet Zechariah goes into more detail about Jerusalem’s future.  I will be writing on the books of Haggai and Zechariah after I complete Ezra, but for now, let’s consider what God is saying to his people through these prophets.

God has delivered these people from oppression and exile and allowed them to come home and rebuild their lives.  They started off well building the foundation of the temple and got held up by the powers that be, slander, lies told about them, and their own lack of diligence in praying and petitioning for permission to continue God’s work.  Now, God is mercifully sending prophets to help and encourage their work for him.  They obey the word of the prophets and begin to work on the temple again.

How practical this passage is for us today.  How many times do we get caught up in building our own families, houses, plans, and little kingdoms for ourselves at the expense of building for God’s glory and his kingdom?

How quickly we get selfish, impede, and retard the spiritual growth of ourselves and those around us!  Haggai and Zechariah call us back to God with warning and encouragement.  How fortunate we are for the prophetic voices in our lives!  Lots of Christians today tend to deliberately forget that there are five offices listed in the Bible pertaining to the church: pastor, teacher, evangelist, apostle, and prophet, not just three.

Anyway, as the Jews got back to building, once again, their governors did not fail to notice.  Just like the previous governors, they inquired and sent notification to the king about their activity.  After all, this was part of their job.  Unlike previously, though, this time the governors did not misrepresent, malign, or slander the Jews when they sent word to the king.  They simply reported the building project and asked if the Jews had permission as they claimed to have been given by King Cyrus.

Interestingly, when they inquired of the Jews, the Jews told them the reason for their exile was God’s anger at their own faults and disobedience to him.  That was the truth and they took responsibility for their failures.  Funny, God’s people begin to get somewhere when they start with admitting their own faults and taking personal responsibility.

Remember, just like the last letter to the king from the governing authorities, these men were also Samaritans.  They claimed to worship the God of the Jews, but were not true Jews.  They worshiped many other gods but these particular governors proved to be much more honest and straightforward with their authority.  They took the names of the Jewish leaders and reported only the facts of what was taking place.  Nothing personal or untrue was said in their letter to King Darius.

In the next chapter, King Darius will reply as to whether the Jews have permission to build as they claim and we will see what happens as a result.

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