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The Scriptorium

God, not Man

Whom we must obey. Ezra 5.1-5

Return from Exile: Ezra 4-6 (3)

Pray Psalm 12.6, 7.
The words of the LORD are pure words,
Like silver tried in a furnace of earth,
Purified seven times.
You shall keep them, O LORD,
You shall preserve them from this generation forever.

Sing Psalm 12.6, 7.
(Hamburg: When I Survey the Wondrous Cross)
Your words are pure and proven true, like silver seven times refined.
You will preserve Your Word ever new, and keep the heart to You inclined.

Read and meditate on Ezra 5.1-5.

What happened after Haggai and Zechariah arrived?

How did the Samaritans react?

Do you suppose Peter had this passage in mind when he told the religious leaders of his day that he must obey God rather than man? (Acts 5.29)

Today’s reading brings us up to where we stopped with the prophets Haggai and Zechariah. We saw how God sent them to revive the people and renew the work they had begun on the temple. Haggai exposed their self-interested complacency and Zechariah reminded them of God’s promise, despite small beginnings, to give His people a glorious future and a hope.

So the Persian king had written a letter empowering his Samaritan lackeys to stop the work God had assigned His people. How did God respond? He spoke His Word into the situation through the prophets Haggai and Zechariah, and faithful leaders—the high priest Jeshua and the governor Zerubbabel—moved the people to take up the work again (vv. 1, 2).

The Samaritans demanded to know who was building this temple and the wall (which was not yet under construction, but the Samaritans could see where this was heading). So the elders replied by reciting the names of all those who were working on the project (vv. 3, 4). The elders were either being disingenuous or they feared the Samaritans too much to answer, “The LORD.” By now Artaxerxes was dead and Darius was on the throne, so a new search would be required, and the work stoppage order would have to be renewed.

But God had other plans.

Treasures Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162
Discouragement comes in many forms and quantities. But it always comes, like clockwork.
We can either stop the building, or we can rise up and begin to work (Ezra 5.2). Our choice.
We can either be defeated or victorious. We can either trust God, cry out to be filled with His Holy empowering Spirit, or we can deflate and give up. Today, I’m leaning toward the latter. But I must not.
Because I know that “the eye of our God” (Ezra 5.5) is upon me, and He would prefer a better response.

So, walk with me through God’s holy Word and find encouragement with me:

“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil,
to give you a future and a hope” (Jer. 29.11).
“For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls” (Heb. 12.3).
“This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope.
Through the LORD’s mercies we are not consumed, because
His compassions fail not. They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness” (Lam. 3.21-23).
“Whom have I in heaven but You? And there is none upon earth that I desire besides You.
My flesh and my heart fail; but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever” (Ps. 73.25, 26).
“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I AM gentle and lowly in heart,
and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden in light” (Matt. 11.28-30).
“As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love” (Jn. 15.9).
“I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Gal. 2.20).
“Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that His hour had come
that He should depart from this world to the Father,
having loved His own who were in the world,
He loved them to the end” (Jn. 13.1).

“But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you…” (Acts 1.8).
“Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me?
Hope in God; for I shall yet praise Him, the help of my countenance and my God” (Ps. 43.5).

God, not man, will be victorious. No matter what it looks like today.
“Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!” (Mk. 9.24).
Rise up and build! 

For reflection
1. In what ways are you tempted to obey men rather than God?

2. What can you do to keep God’s faithfulness in mind throughout the day? Why is it important you do so?

3. Whom will you encourage today to rest in the promises and faithfulness of God?

However the work may seem to be hindered, yet the Lord Jesus Christ is carrying it on, his people are growing unto a holy temple in the Lord, for a habitation of God through the Spirit. Matthew Henry (1662-1714), Commentary on Ezra 5.3-16

Pray Psalm 12.1-5.
Give thanks to God for His Word. Call on Him to move His people to greater faithfulness in spreading the Word of the Gospel throughout the world.

Sing Psalm 12.1-5.
(Hamburg: When I Survey the Wondrous Cross)
Help, Lord! The godly cease to be; they who believe in Christ are few.
Falsely the wicked confidently flatter, deceive, and mock Your truth.

Stop, Lord, the lips that utter lies, all those who speak with boasting tongue!
See how Your holy Word they despise, while their own praises they have sung.

Rise up, O Lord, and rescue all Your precious children sore distressed.
Save those who faithfully on You call; grant them deliv’rance, peace, and rest.

T. M. and Susie Moore

Two books can help us understand our own captivity and lead us to seek revival and renewal in the Lord. The Church Captive asks us to consider the ways the Church today has become captive to the world. And Revived! can help us find the way to renewal. Learn more and order your free copies by clicking here and here.

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Except as indicated, all Scriptures are taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. For sources of all quotations, see the weekly PDF of this study. All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (Williston: Waxed Tablet Publications, 2006), available free by clicking here.


T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
Books by T. M. Moore

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