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Ezra 5

Verses 1-2


It’s one thing to be in the right position, it’s another thing to be in the right condition. The remnant is in the right place, where the Name dwells. But they have come into a state where they are easily discouraged and stop building the temple. In such a situation, the solution is not to give up everything and return to where they came from. The solution is to listen to the Word of God and trust in God to send the appropriate service.

It often happens that people see certain truths and seek grace to walk in them. Over time, the first freshness disappears and there comes a period of laxity and indifference. The love of the many cools and the dew of youth disappears. What then? Return to what they once left for Christ’s sake? No! What must be done is to call to God in that position that there may be revival and blessing through the service of the Spirit.

The Building of the Temple Resumed

The effects of the first revival have largely disappeared. Those who have experienced a revival need a new revival. It is easier to gain a victory than to take advantage of it. We can conquer in battle, but we can perish as a result of victory. God gives precious encouragement to the children of Israel from a different direction. Though the people are also subject to the nations, God always remains sovereign. His Word is always of absolute authority to His people if He deigns to speak to them.

Haggai and Zechariah are sent to His people and prophesy in the midst of the people (Ezra 5:1). These messages from God are particularly valuable, as His Word always is. Although this does not change the position of the people in relation to the nations, it is nevertheless a striking proof that God is interested in His people. It shows that whatever their difficulties may be the God of Israel is exalted above all that has power to oppress the children of Israel. God intervenes, not through an act of power by King Darius, but through the word of prophecy. The power of His Spirit works through the prophets to awaken the conscience of the people.

Prophets are used by God when His people are in a bad condition and the responsible leaders fail. Haggai (meaning “the festive one”) and Zechariah (meaning “ Yahweh remembers”) reveal the condition of the people. Haggai does not speak about the external difficulties, but about the condition of the people. He speaks more to the conscience. Zechariah speaks more to the heart of the people. The service of Zechariah is generally appreciated more than that of Haggai, but both are necessary.

The prophets not only stir up the work, but continue to support and encourage the workers with their words (Ezra 5:2). As a result of the God-given service of the Spirit, first of all the spirit of the leaders of the people is awakened. They set a good example. The prophets will have proposed to the workers the future glory of the house, the establishment of the Messianic kingdom and the blessing for the people. Returning to the Lord gives strength for the work and confidence that God will overcome difficulties for them.

Verses 3-5

Again Resistance

As soon as the people become active again before the LORD, and the building of his house is taken up again, the enemies also come again (Ezra 5:3-Numbers :). We don’t hear from them when Israel is busy with their own houses. Because there is faith again, they dare to build again, although there is a prohibition (Ezra 5:5). The result of this faith is that the intervention of their enemies even leads to a commandment in favor of them.

Verses 6-17

Letter to Darius About the Rebuilding

The letter sent by the enemies gives an honest account of the work and differs from the letter in the previous chapter. The letter begins by naming the senders (Ezra 5:6) and the addressee (Ezra 5:7). The first communication is a testimony to the diligence and devotion of the builders (Ezra 5:8). The world sees how the believers are busy for the dwelling place of God, the church. When they see that they are committed to it, they are impressed by it. They see the zeal and prosperity.

Then the senders mention what they have asked the builders and why (Ezra 5:9-2 Samuel :). The answer of the builders to their interrogators is also shown. That answer is a beautiful testimony of who they are: “Servants of the God of heaven and earth” (Ezra 5:11). It is a testimony of His supreme authority. He is not a local deity. They are in connection with the God on whom all creation depends. That consciousness ensures that they are without fear of humans.

They also honestly acknowledge that they are now in the power of the nations because of their unfaithfulness and the wrath of God (Ezra 5:12). That unfaithfulness is also the cause of God’s surrender of His house to destruction by Nebuchadnezzar. Further they answer that they are rebuilding the house of the LORD which is called “this house” (Ezra 5:12-1 Chronicles :). It is the same house as the one that “a great king” (Ezra 5:11), that is Solomon, built. It is no other house. We too may rebuild it and are encouraged to do so.

The builders also appeal to the command of Cyrus (Ezra 5:13). Here Cyrus is called “the king of Babylon”, because Babylon was conquered by him. From there the Jews also left for Jerusalem. At their departure, Cyrus also took all the utensils that Nebuchadnezzar brought from Jerusalem to Babylon from the temple in Babylon and gave them to the Jews (Ezra 5:14) to be placed back in God’s temple (Ezra 5:15).

After that they talk about the foundation of the temple and that they have built the temple “from then until now” and that the building of the house of God has not yet been completed (Ezra 5:16). They don’t talk about their slackening in the building so that the temple hasn’t been worked on for twenty years. The delay is a matter between them and their God.

The senders conclude their letter with a request to Darius to investigate whether there really was a decree by Cyrus to “rebuild this house of God at Jerusalem” (Ezra 5:17). They also indicate the ‘place of search’, which is “in the king’s treasure house, which is there in Babylon”. They conclude their letter with the request that the king have his decision sent to them as a result of the search.

Bibliographical Information
de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op Ezra 5". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". 'Stichting Titus' / 'Stichting Uitgeverij Daniël', Zwolle, Nederland. 2021.