Return from Exile: Ezra 4-6 (5)
Pray Psalm 80.1-3.
Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel,
You who lead Joseph like a flock;
You who dwell between the cherubim, shine forth!
Before Ephraim, Benjamin, and Manasseh,
Stir up Your strength,
And come and save us!
Restore us, O God;
Cause Your face to shine,
And we shall be saved!
Sing Psalm 80 (various).
(St. Theodulph: All Glory, Laud, and Honor)
vv. 3, 7, 19
O God of grace, restore us, and shine on us Your face!
O save us, Lord, work for us; renew us by Your grace!
vv. 1, 2
Give ear, O gracious Savior, Who leads us as Your flock:
Stir up Your pow’r and favor, our King and Lord and Rock!
Read and meditate on Ezra 6.1-12.
1. What did King Darius discover?
2. What was his instruction to the Samaritans?
I’m pretty sure that the Samaritans were wishing they’d only encouraged Darius to look back to Artaxerxes.
Darius did as they suggested and found Cyrus’ original decree to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem (vv. 1-5). We sense a little irritation on Darius’ part as he instructed the Samaritans in what they were to do: Hands off! And to the people of God: Hands on! Get busy and finish this great work!
And Darius upped the ante in his response. Not only were the Samaritans to bug off, but they were to pay for the project out of their own tax base, and to do so “immediately”! (vv. 6-8) Further, they were to give the people of God “whatever they need” (vv. 9, 10) to resume their sacrifices “that they may offer sacrifices of sweet aroma to the God of heaven, and pray for the life of the king and his sons.”
Plots against God, His people, and His eternal plan have a way of blowing up in the plotters’ faces.
And more: “Also I issue a decree that whoever alters this edict, let a timber be pulled from his house and erected, and let him be hanged on it; and let his house be made a refuse heap because of this. And may the God who causes His name to dwell there destroy any king or people who put their hand to alter it, or to destroy this house of God which is in Jerusalem” (vv. 11, 12).
Treasures Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162
That was a really good start!
Now, we wait—for the fulfillment.
The royal denouement of history—the final resolution.
“But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God,
from that time waiting till His enemies are made His footstool” (Heb. 10.12, 13).
“Say to God, ‘How awesome are Your works! Through the greatness of Your power Your enemies
shall submit themselves to You’” (Ps. 66.3).
“The haters of the LORD would pretend submission to Him…” (Ps. 81.15).
“But You, LORD, are on high forevermore. For behold Your enemies, O LORD,
for behold, Your enemies shall perish; all the workers of iniquity shall be scattered” (Ps. 92.8, 9).
“Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power. For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be destroyed is death” (1 Cor. 15.24-26).
“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies…” (Ps. 23.5).
“And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight—if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard, which was preached to every creature under heaven…” (Col. 1.21-23).
Tattenai, Shethar-Boznai, and all their companions saw the crumbled mess of their wicked plot (Ezra 6.1-12).
We can rest assured that all God’s enemies will one day see the emptiness and foolishness of their plots against Him and His anointed (Ps. 2). They are in our Personal Mission Field, and they need Jesus (Prov. 24.11, 12). In the final act, there will only be two characters—His friends and His footstools.
“Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him,
even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn
because of Him. Even so, Amen.”
“I AM the Alpha and the Omega,
the Beginning and the End,
who is and who was and who is to come,
the Almighty” (Rev. 1.7, 8).
1. How is it clear that God ruled the heart of Darius?
2. Does God rule the hearts of kings and presidents today? How should knowing this encourage us?
3. Pray for all government officials, that they will fulfill their calling to be servants of God for good (Rom. 13.1-4). How might you encourage a government official today?
The Lord Jesus Christ continues to lay one stone upon another: let us assist the great design. Difficulties delay the progress of this sacred edifice. Yet let not opposition discourage us, for in due season it will be completed to his abundant praise. He shall bring forth the head-stone thereof with shoutings, crying, Grace, grace unto it. Matthew Henry (1662-1714), Commentary on Ezra 6.1-12
Pray Psalm 80.14-19.
Jesus is building His temple—us and our churches. Give thanks for His powerful working in your life. Ask Him to show you how you can realize more of the presence, promise, and power of His Kingdom rule today. Pray for your church to seek the Lord for revival.
Sing Psalm 80 (various).
(St. Theodulph: All Glory, Laud, and Honor)
vv. 8, 9
You set us free from sin, Lord, and planted us in grace.
We rooted in Your strong Word have spread from place to place.
vv. 10, 11
Our shadow covered mountains, our branches reached the sea;
Your grace flowed like a fountain of life, abundantly.
Now You in wrath have spoken and bruised Your chosen vine.
We languish, Lord, are broken by wrath, deserved, divine.
vv. 14, 15
Once more, Lord, hear our pleading: return and heal this vine!
Look down on us, so needy, and show Your love divine!
vv. 16, 17
Though we be burned and perish because of Your command,
Revive us, Lord, and cherish this son of Your right hand.
vv. 18, 19
Then let us not return to our sinful, selfish ways,
But call on You and learn to surround You with our praise.
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.