Wednesday, January 27, 2016

political frustration

Then the people of the land discouraged the people of Judah and made them afraid to build and bribed counselors against them to frustrate their purpose, all the days of Cyrus king of Persia, even until the reign of Darius king of Persia.
Ezra 4:4-5

This opposition raised by "the people of the land" over the rebuilding of the temple by the Jewish exiles who returned to Jerusalem seriously impeded the work for years and years. Their complaints and political stall tactics dramatically slowed, then eventually stopped all the work through three different Persian administrations.

The work began under Cyrus, but it stalled by the time Artaxerxes is king in Persia, as the enemies of the work manage to convince the king in Babylon to order all work to cease on the temple, using political "force and power" (see Ezra 4:23) to achieve their shutdown. It is a discouraging time for Judah. They want to obey God first, but the government has been turned against them. So they start again at gaining the favor of the king.

But it is under a third ruler, Darius who is now king of Persia, that the Jews turn the government support back in favor of rebuilding the temple. The leaders of the temple project petition Darius to search the royal archive for their original charter issued by Cyrus. Once Darius ascertains these facts, the full support of the Persian empire supports a massive rebuilding effort. In fact, the support of the government for the temple rebuilding project is stronger than ever and the work speeds along. It took years of patient work in the bureaucracy, but God used His people to move the political machine to accomplish His purposes. Human frustrations never frustrate God!

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