Temple Work Resumed
5 When the prophets, Haggai the prophet and Zechariah the son of Iddo, prophesied to the Jews who were in Judah and Jerusalem in the name of the God of Israel, who was over them, 2 then Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel and Jeshua the son of Jozadak arose and began to rebuild the house of God which is in Jerusalem; and the prophets of God were with them supporting them.
3 At that time Tattenai, the governor of the province beyond the [a]River, and Shethar-bozenai and their colleagues came to them and spoke to them thus, “Who issued you a decree to rebuild this [b]temple and to finish this structure?” 4 Then we told them accordingly what the names of the men were who were reconstructing this building. 5 But the eye of their God was on the elders of the Jews, and they did not stop them until a report could come to Darius, and then a written reply be returned concerning it.
Adversaries Write to Darius
6 This is the copy of the letter which Tattenai, the governor of the province beyond the River, and Shethar-bozenai and his colleagues the officials, who were beyond the River, sent to Darius the king. 7 They sent a report to him in which it was written thus: “To Darius the king, all peace. 8 Let it be known to the king that we have gone to the province of Judah, to the house of the great God, which is being built with huge stones, and [c]beams are being laid in the walls; and this work is going on with great care and is succeeding in their hands. 9 Then we asked those elders and said to them thus, ‘Who issued you a decree to rebuild this temple and to finish this structure?’ 10 We also asked them their names so as to inform you, and that we might write down the names of the men who were at their head. 11 Thus they [d]answered us, saying, ‘We are the servants of the God of heaven and earth and are rebuilding the temple that was built many years ago, which a great king of Israel built and finished. 12 But because our fathers had provoked the God of heaven to wrath, He gave them into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, the Chaldean, who destroyed this temple and deported the people to Babylon. 13 However, in the first year of Cyrus king of Babylon, King Cyrus issued a decree to rebuild this house of God. 14 Also the gold and silver utensils of the house of God which Nebuchadnezzar had taken from the temple [e]in Jerusalem, and brought them to the temple of Babylon, these King Cyrus took from the temple of Babylon and they were given to one whose name was Sheshbazzar, whom he had appointed governor. 15 He said to him, “Take these utensils, go and deposit them in the temple [f]in Jerusalem and let the house of God be rebuilt in its place.” 16 Then that Sheshbazzar came and laid the foundations of the house of God [g]in Jerusalem; and from then until now it has been under construction and it is not yet completed.’ 17 “Now if it pleases the king, let a search be conducted in the king’s treasure house, which is there in Babylon, if it be that a decree was issued by King Cyrus to rebuild this house of God at Jerusalem; and let the king send to us his decision concerning this matter.”
I love the reply of the Jews who had resumed the rebuilding of the temple, and that those who challenged them recorded it faithfully, despite their opposition to the task. It does seem the new governors of that region were a little less antagonistic, since they let the work continue until they could consult with Darius.
At any rate, when the Jewish leaders were challenged as to why they had resumed the temple building, their first thought is, “We are the servants of the God of heaven and earth…” Though they knew Cyrus had given previous instruction to rebuild the temple, and that the pagan king Darius may not care about the one true God, they appeal to His authority first.
And so should we… While God tells us to obey the law of the land, it is only valid so long as it is in line with our devotion to God. For He is the ultimate authority on earth, and should be the primary (only) source of truth in our lives as well.
People will say a lot of things, and often misuse or abuse the law. Some will even try to twist God’s own words, but their words bely them when they question, “did God really say that?” The most depraved king of lies himself asked that question first, and anyone who would imitate that should give us pause.
Most certainly, we should not take as truth what any man (or woman) tells us of God without any validation. God’s word itself is our source, and if man’s words do not line up with that, then they are null and void. That means we must know God’s word, we must read it, study it, and store it in our hearts and minds. Then we not be lead astray nor distracted from what He has called us to do. We will be able to stand firm and say, “We are the servants of the God of heaven and earth…”