Ezra 5:1-17


Verse 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.

I.    The two prophets.

A.  There is strength in numbers.

1.   Lev. 26:8, And five of you shall chase an hundred, and an hundred of you shall put ten thousand to flight: and your enemies shall fall before you by the sword.

2.   Deut. 32:30, How should one chase a thousand, and two put ten thousand to flight, except their Rock had sold them, and the LORD had shut them up?

B.   Haggai prophesied about the "short term" results of rebuilding the temple.

C.   Zechariah prophesied about the "long term" results of rebuilding the temple.


II.   The prophecy came only to the Jews in Judah and Jerusalem.

A.  Those Jews that remained in Babylon did not receive this promise.

1.   This doesn't mean they aren't Jews, or that they are lost.

2.   It simply means they aren't included in the promises God gives to those who help in rebuilding the temple.

3.   This may seem unfair, because some of the Jews were not physically able (because of age) to return to Jerusalem.

4.   We must remember that everything God does is right.

B.   Apply this same principle to the church age.

1.   There are saved people in Lord's church and some saved people who are not members of the Lord's church.

2.   Those saved people in the Lord's church will receive more blessings than those not in the Lord's church.


Verse 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.

I.    Zerubbabel the Jeshua began to build the house of God after they heard the preaching of God's Word.

A.  Before they received an order from the king to begin rebuilding.

B.   While the order of Artaxerxes was still in effect for the building to cease.

C.   Artaxerxes was dead, so his order was pretty much forgotten.


II.   This is the way "politics" works.

A.  The enemies of the Jews tried to "grease the political machine" during the life of Cyrus so the Jews would stop building the temple, but were unable to stop the work.

1.   When Cyrus was dead they stepped up their political dirty work, finally succeeding in forcing the Jews to stop work on the temple.

2.   The Jews obeyed Artaxerxes command and stopped work until he died.

3.   Then, influenced by the preaching of Haggai and Zechariah, they started working again.

B.   It works just like this today.

1.   I heard some Missouri liberals on the radio the other day saying they couldn't get any of their liberal legislation (they were talking about abortion laws, and tighter restrictions on religious symbols, prayer, church day care centers, church schools, etc,) passed as long as we have the governor we have.

2.   They said they would have to wait until "their" candidate was in the governor's office, then they could get their kind of legislation passed.

3.   We, that believe in freedom of religion, are able, under this governor, to worship, religiously educate our children, and live in a God fearing state at this time.

4.   If the next governor doesn't believe in these things, then we will be oppressed and the liberals will have their freedoms.

5.   It's very important to pray that God give us the governor of His choice so we can have the freedom to worship Him.


III. How did the prophets help the people?

A.  They might have been laying bricks right beside them.

1.   This is a good and very necessary way to help.

2.   If this was the only way the prophets helped, the only people that would receive help from them was those people immediately around them.

3.   Those Jews that were working on other parts of the temple would receive no help at all from them.

B.   They might have encouraged them with good words.

1.   I believe this is really the way the prophets helped the people.

2.   All of the people would need much encouragement, which would come from the Word of God.

3.   The people would all receive encouragement from the prophets regardless of where they worked on the temple.


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

I.    Two things begin to happen when the prophets prophesied.

A.  The Jews began to build the temple again.

B.   The enemies of the Jews began to try to stop them again.

C.   It is very interesting to note that Satan doesn't do anything as long as God's people aren't doing anything.


II.   Different people oppose the Jews now.

A.  It is very likely that the former opposers are either dead or removed from office.

1.   If they are dead, then God has used that to remove them from office, so the Jews can continue on the temple work.

2.   Most likely they have been removed from office when Darius came to power, as this is the usual procedure.


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

I.    I really don't understand the "tense" of this verse.

A.  I don't know who "we" is.

1.   Some commentaries state that the word "we" should be "they" so it will fit correctly.

2.   Most commentaries didn't make a comment at all.

B.   It does seem to me, regardless of where everything else falls, that it is the enemies of Judah who try to get the names.


II.   Things are getting pretty tight when enemies want your name.

A.  Their intention is to turn the leaders in to the Persian authorities.

B.   This would cause a great deal of anxiety and fear in some people, but God must give grace.


Verse 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.

I.    Wasn't the eye of God upon the Jews when they quit building the temple?  Of course His eye was upon them.  Their eye wasn't on Him.


II.   The work didn't stop.

A.  The Jews were so intend on serving God, they continued building even though the letter was sent to Darius.

B.   They would build until Darius told them to quit.

1.   We ought to obey the laws of our land, for God has placed these people over us for our good and His glory.

2.   If a law is passed that is against our serving God, we have no obligation to obey that law.


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

I.    There are several differences between the letter written to King Darius by Tatnai, and the letter written to Artaxerxes by Rehum, which reveals differences in the people.

A.  Tatnai and his followers didn't ask to help the Jews.

1.   They didn't give any trouble.

2.   They really didn't have any opinion about the Jews religion.

3.   They just didn't want them to do anything that would harm the Persian Kingdom.

B.   They told the story from the Jews point of view.

1.   They told the conversation they had with the Jews.

2.   They were very honest about what to do.

3.   They didn't try to influence King Darius to do what they wanted him to do.

4.   In leaving everything up to Darius, they showed a much greater commitment to the Persian King than Rehum and his followers.

C.   The people we need to watch out for are those "« Christians"!

1.   They will do us much harm, for they try to work things the way they want them to turn out.

2.   The have very little regard for God's will and way, except as it aids them in pursuing their personal desires.


Verse 7,8, 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.

I.    The word "prospereth" is a positive word.


II.   The letter from Rehum showed no positive words about Jerusalem, the Jews, the temple, God, or anything else.


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

I.    When the Jews were asked who gave them permission to build this house, they told the entire story, not leaving out their rebellion against God and his subsequent judgment upon them.

A.  They admitted everything, laying no blame on God or Nebuchadnezzar.

B.   They didn't give undue credit to Cyrus for the building of the temple, stating facts as facts.


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

I.    It is very possible that the names of the leaders of Israel were included in this letter.

A.  We really have no way of knowing.

B.   It is important to note, however, that we ought not be ashamed to put our names to any document which states our service to God.

C.   The more we try to hide our true identity as children of God, the more confused we become and the more Satan will hurt us.


Verse 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.

I.    When people ask us what our names are, it is a good answer to say, we are the servants of the most high God.

A.  A lot of people are out to make a name for themselves, not to glorify God.

1.   Billy Graham has made a big name for himself and formed The Billy Graham Association.

2.   When he dies that organization will also die.

3.   The church of Jesus Christ was organized to give glory to God alone.

4.   When some important church members die, or the pastor dies, that church doesn't cease to exist.

B.   When angels were asked to identify themselves, they replied that their name didn't make any difference.

1.   The name of God made the difference.

2.   It really doesn't make any difference what our name is, although we consider our names to be very important.

3.   The new name we will receive from God in eternity is the name that really matters.


Verse 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.

I.    The Jews show complete honesty.

A.  They do not try to hid their sins or the sins of their fathers.

1.   They recognize their past sinfulness.

2.   They also recognize their past chastisement.

3.   They know chastisement is past, and it is time for the blessings of God upon them.

B.   It is good and right for us to admit our sinfulness before God and men.

1.   When we ask God to forgive us, He does.

2.   If we have chastisement coming, it is good to get it out of the way, so we can enjoy the blessings of God.


Verse 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.

I.    This is not the first year of Cyrus reign over Persia, but the first year of his reign over Israel.


II.   The Jews didn't make any claims that God laid on Cyrus heart to build the temple.

A.  This was the case, but it is not the Jews responsibility to tell it.

B.   When the records are checked, this fact will become known.


Verse 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;

I.    Sheshbazzar is evidently Zerubbabel.


II.   There will a need to explain how the Jews are in possession of the articles that were in Babylon.

A.  They didn't want to be called thieves, or unjust people.

1.   So they tell where all the gold and silver came from, and why they are in their possession, and who put them in their possession.

B.   It should be noted that honesty is always the best policy.  King Darius would find out the truth anyway.

1.   In the letter that came back from Darius, he made additional commands which gave the Jews even more possessions than they had before.

2.   If they had tried to cover up the gold and silver possessions, God might not have put on King Darius heart to give additional help.


Verse 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.

I.    "in his place", Cyrus instructed the Jews to build the house of God on its former foundation.

A.  This is exactly in accord with what the Jews would want to do anyway.

1.   God puts in every person the same desire.

2.   God doesn't tell me to do one thing, then tells you to do something that contradicts what He told me to do.


Verse 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.

I.    The Jews don't mention to Tatnai that the building of the temple was stopped during the reign of Artaxerxes.

A.  They are not hiding the facts.

B.   It is just that the cessation of building during the reign of Artaxerxes is not important.

1.   The original command of Cyrus was that the house of God be build.

C.   It is very interesting to note that King Darius (6:11) makes an additional decree that anybody that stops the building of the temple would have his own house torn down, a gallows build with the timber and the person hanged on the gallows.

1.   The land where his house was would be turned into a dunghill from that day forward.


Verse 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.

I.    The request was made for King Darius to search the records at Babylon.

A.  Probably, search was made there, but nothing seems to have been found.  Therefore search was probably made in other places.

B.   The record of King Cyrus decree was found in Achmetha, some 250 miles to the north east of Babylon.

C.   This shows us two things.

1.   If God puts something on the heart of the king, he will not rest until he comes to the end of the thing.

2.   God will always protect his people by preserving certain records.

a.   The Jews living at Jerusalem and building the temple cannot be charged with disobeying any kings command, for they are obeying.

b.   During World War II, many Jews were killed in the most inhuman ways.  Remarkably, there is much evidence of their deaths.  Movies, pictures, and lists of names (where they lived, died, and were buried) were kept by the Germans.  The purpose of keeping the records was to brag about their conquest of the Jews to the rest of the world.  Instead of being something to brag about, the records have become the very thing that condemns the enemies of the Jews, and vindicates the Jews in the eyes of the world.