Wednesday after the Eighteenth Sunday after Trinity Sunday
Scripture: Ezra 5:1-17 (NKJV)
1 Then the prophet Haggai and Zechariah the son of Iddo, prophets, prophesied to the Jews who were in Judah and Jerusalem, in the name of the God of Israel, who was over them. 2 So Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel and Jeshua the son of Jozadak rose up and began to build the house of God which is in Jerusalem; and the prophets of God were with them, helping them.
3 At the same time Tattenai the governor of the region beyond the River and Shethar-Boznai and their companions came to them and spoke thus to them: “Who has commanded you to build this temple and finish this wall?” 4 Then, accordingly, we told them the names of the men who were constructing this building. 5 But the eye of their God was upon the elders of the Jews, so that they could not make them cease till a report could go to Darius. Then a written answer was returned concerning this matter. 6 This is a copy of the letter that Tattenai sent:
The governor of the region beyond the River, and Shethar-Boznai, and his companions, the Persians who were in the region beyond the River, to Darius the king.
7 They sent a letter to him, in which was written thus—
To Darius the king: All peace.
8 Let it be known to the king that we went into the province of Judea, to the temple of the great God, which is being built with heavy stones, and timber is being laid in the walls; and this work goes on diligently and prospers in their hands.
9 Then we asked those elders, and spoke thus to them: “Who commanded you to build this temple and to finish these walls?” 10 We also asked them their names to inform you, that we might write the names of the men who were chief among them.
11 And thus they returned us an answer, saying: “We are the servants of the God of heaven and earth, and we are rebuilding the temple that was built many years ago, which a great king of Israel built and completed. 12 But because our fathers provoked the God of heaven to wrath, He gave them into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, the Chaldean, who destroyed this temple and carried the people away to Babylon. 13 However, in the first year of Cyrus king of Babylon, King Cyrus issued a decree to build this house of God. 14 Also, the gold and silver articles of the house of God, which Nebuchadnezzar had taken from the temple that was in Jerusalem and carried into the temple of Babylon—those King Cyrus took from the temple of Babylon, and they were given to one named Sheshbazzar, whom he had made governor. 15 And he said to him, ‘Take these articles; go, carry them to the temple site that is in Jerusalem, and let the house of God be rebuilt on its former site.’ 16 Then the same Sheshbazzar came and laid the foundation of the house of God which is in Jerusalem; but from that time even until now it has been under construction, and it is not finished.”
17 Now therefore, if it seems good to the king, let a search be made in the king’s treasure house, which is there in Babylon, whether it is so that a decree was issued by King Cyrus to build this house of God at Jerusalem, and let the king send us his pleasure concerning this matter.
Yesterday, we heard Haggai’s message to the people of Israel to get back to work rebuilding the Temple. Now, did you notice? They didn’t wait for an “OK” from the king. They heard God’s Word and followed through with what He said. Then, when confronted about restarting the work of rebuilding the Temple, they answered with the truth of what had happened in the past, warts and all. They spoke about how the people of Israel had “provoked the God of heaven to wrath,” how “He gave them into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar,” and how, later, King Cyrus told them to rebuild the Temple.
They told the truth and and left the rest to God. Which begs the question: Why didn’t they do that in the first place? Maybe they should have. What if they would have? We know they could have.
The nagging “shoulda, woulda, couldas” plague all of us from time to time. We begin to wonder if things might have gone better had we done it a different way and our minds won’t let us rest. But after allowing us a while to linger in frustration, God comes with His message of peace. He once again shows us our real need, Jesus and His forgiveness. He leads us to commend all our troubles and frustrations to Him and His care, assuring us of His love. He fills us with a peace that surpasses all human understanding.
We pray: If thou but suffer God to guide thee
And hope in Him thro’ all thy ways,
He’ll give thee strength whate’er betide thee,
And bear thee thro’ evil days.
Who trusts in God unchanging love
Builds on the Rock that naught can move. Amen. (TLH 518, st. 1)