Tuesday, September 06, 2011

The help of enemies

TODAY'S SPECIAL: Ezra 6:1-22

TO CHEW ON: "And they kept the feast of Unleavened Bread seven days with joy, for the Lord had made them joyful and had turned the heart of the king of Assyria to them so that he aided them in the work of the house of God, the God of Israel." Ezra 6:22 TSV

"When a man's ways please the Lord, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him," says Proverbs 16:7.

Our reading today is an example of this. Through a decree of Darius king of Babylon, a search was made that turned up another decree issued by Cyrus years earlier. He had commanded that the Jerusalem temple be rebuilt. The cost of this rebuild was to be charged to his royal treasury and the gold and silver accessories (utensils and dishes) were to be restored and returned to the Jerusalem temple (Ezra 6:2-5).

In fact, an additional decree by Darius went on to command that certain provincial leaders "keep away" (Ezra 6:6) and refrain from hindering the project. Instead of causing problems they were to help by supplying tribute money and animals for the sacrifice. The penalty for altering Darius's decree was — well, barbaric (see Ezra 6:12).

When we are serving God, and life (circumstances, and people) comes against us in all kinds of opposition, we can take comfort from this example of God's sovereignty over even the highest rulers. I love the verse: "The king’s heart is like a stream of water directed by the Lord;
 he guides it wherever he pleases" - Proverbs 21:1 (NLT). There is no situation or person that God can't change or use to achieve His purposes.

PRAYER: Dear God, thank You for Your sovereignty over all mankind. Help me to be involved in Your purposes, living in sync with Your ways, and in a place where I can expect Your help. Amen.

MORE: The rebuilding of the temple
Gustave Doré's engraving "The Rebuilding of the Temple" gives us an idea of what a big, labor-intensive job this construction project must have been.



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