Sabbatical 2017

Sabbatical 2017
Mill stream in Quimperle, France

Friday, September 16, 2016

CHronological Reading Plan for Sep 17, Ezra 4-6, Psalm 137

Today's readings are Ezra 4-6, Psalm 137. Tomorrow's are Hag 1-2.

As work on the Temple continues, some neighbors in Samaria, enemies of Judah, try to join the effort. The Samaritans, at this point, are actually a mixture of pagan settlers, brought there by the Assyrians (2 Kings 17:24-41). Judah does not trust them nor are they truly followers of God. Judah wisely sends them away.  The Samaritans appeal to the King Artaxerxes, accusing the Jews of being a rebellious people, telling him only part of the story. The king, only hearing one side of the story, orders a halt to the work. The king makes the mistake of not being patient enough to get all the facts about an issue before reacting.

Two prophets, Haggai and Zechariah implore upon the king for work to resume. The governor over the area,Tattenai, a friend to the Jews, writes to new King Darius, asking him to search the archives to find the original decree that permitted the rebuilding of the temple and get the whole story. He does and, not only allows the work to resume but blesses it in a mighty way. 


The Temple is completed in 515 BC. It is dedicated. The Levites and priests are re-installed and worship resumes. The former exiles give thanks to God for changing the heart of the Assyrian king, which was now under the control of the Persian empire. God has caused the history of empires to change, all for the sake of His name, His reputation and His promises. We've watched Assyria invade Israel, then Babylon overtake Assyria, then the Persians conquer Babylon. God orchestrated it all to refine His children and return them to their homes.

Ezra is yet another example of God's sovereign rule over all nations and all leaders. This is a good lesson for us to keep in mind when we allow ourselves to engage in political debates and discussions. God not only removes kings and sets them up (Dan 2:21) but He changes their hearts to suit His own purposes.

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