Ezra’s account of how the 2nd temple was built in Jerusalem reveals several aspects of God’s character. The Lord worked specifically through three pagan kings to cause them to show favor toward the people of Israel to return to their homeland and rebuild the temple. He first stirred up Cyrus to decree that Yahweh was the God of heaven and earth, who actually declared in Ezra 1:2:
“Thus says Cyrus king of Persia: The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth, and he has charged me to build him a house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah.”
How astounding! This pagan king knew that God had given him the task of building the temple.
Upon opposition from the enemies of God and Israel, Darius was the next king for Yahweh to move in favor of His people. The Lord’s hand was so strong upon this man that he even decreed a curse upon any who would attempt to thwart the rebuilding effort, as we see in Ezra 6:11-12:
“Also I make a decree that if anyone alters this edict, a beam shall be pulled out of his house, and he shall be impaled on it, and his house shall be made a dunghill. May the God who has caused his name to dwell there overthrow any king or people who shall put out a hand to alter this, or to destroy this house of God that is in Jerusalem. I Darius make a decree; let it be done with all diligence.”
When the opposition received this edict, the text in Ezra 6:13 tells us that they “did with all diligence what Darius the king had ordered.”
Despite not agreeing whatsoever with the effort, the enemy knew the consequences of disobeying the king.
Subsequently, God caused King Artaxerxes to give favor to Ezra because, as Ezra 7:9-10 says:
“… for the good hand of his God was on him. For Ezra had set his heart to study the Law of the Lord, and to do it and to teach his statutes and rules in Israel.”
This sequence of favor by the ruling sovereigns over Persia (which had defeated Babylon and was the next great empire) proves the validity of Scripture. Consider what Psalm 21:1 says:
“The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord; he turns it wherever he will.”
Even a king who doesn’t know God will do what He intends when He desires it to be done.
We also learn the truth behind Psalm 121:4:
“Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.”
God is always watching out for Israel, in that He will ensure that His will is done. This is why Ezra, the man of God, was able to say in Ezra 8:31:
“… The hand of our God was on us, and he delivered us from the hand of the enemy and from ambushes by the way.”
Ezra’s heart was toward Yahweh. His intent was to serve Him faithfully, obediently, and well. Because this was God’s will, and what Ezra desired in rebuilding the temple was in his heart from the Lord, He oversaw the entire process and shone His favor upon it.
Throughout Scripture we see many instances where this is not the case. The people of Israel turn away from God and earn His wrath. It ends up being a pretty simple truth: Obey God to do what pleases Him, and He blesses. Disobey the Lord, and He punishes.
This brings us to the current events of the latest political maneuverings in Israel. The nation has gone through four rounds of elections with no single party or candidate able to form a majority government. Because so many in Israel’s political system have hated Benjamin Netanyahu for years, several opposition parties from across Israel’s political spectrum have cobbled together a coalition government. This government is a many-headed hydra with leaders from the left and right, as well as with an Arab party for the first time in Israeli political history.
According to journalist Caroline Glick, the intentions of this mishmash of interests have not been communicated to the Jews in Israel:
Basically, they have to sign this government into existence before the people can learn what it intends to do. Where have we heard of that kind of thing before? Ah, yes, it was for the 2017 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, in which Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House of Representatives, said, “We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it — away from the fog of the controversy.” Indeed, history certainly repeats itself. However, the Muslim leader has told his supporters in Arabic what they received for his being part of this unity government that ousted Netanyahu. It appears there will be a forward effort to divide the land once more in accord with the two-state solution process that President Trump halted.
This will not go well. This contrived government will likely not last; the loyalties of the parties are too diverse. If for some reason it stays together and doesn’t require a fifth round of elections, this also will bring something bad upon the land. Never forget what God said in Genesis 12:3:
“I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
Any attempt to divide Israel brings this curse by God Himself. He will not allow this to happen without serious consequences. It goes back to Psalm 121:4:
“Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.”
God is watching over the Promised Land. It is His. No earthly powers or agreements will prevail against His will.
In all likelihood this current government, in one form or another, will weaken Israel. This enfeebled nation will not even be able to respond when the time of Ezekiel’s War arrives (Ezekiel 38-39 – War of Gog of Magog). The enemies that come against Israel, however, won’t be fighting what they believe is an easy target. They will come up against the God who never slumbers nor sleeps, whose mighty hand is upon the land.
At that time, Yahweh will win a great victory, and all the world will see that He is God and that His Word is true.
Gary W. Ritter is a lay pastor, Bible teacher, and prolific author. His Whirlwind Series comprises three books: Sow the Wind, Reap the Whirlwind, and There Is A Time. These books are contained in the collected volume of the Whirlwind Omnibus. Gary has been given the Christian Redemptive Fiction award for three novels: The Tattooed Cat, Alien Revelation, and for his collaboration with Terry James in writing The Minion Protocols, the third book in James’ Second Coming Chronicles. Earlier this year Gary released a four-volume set of Awaken Bible Study Notes that comment verse-by-verse through Scripture from a Biblical prophetic lens. He is currently working on a sequel to Alien Revelation and is writing a daily commentary on his reading through the Bible in a year.
The intent in all Gary’s writings is to bring a strong Christian witness to what people read. You can reach him at his website: www.GaryRitter.com or his Facebook Author page: https://www.facebook.com/gritter3390. You can also see his video Bible teachings on his Gary Ritter YouTube channel – look for the fish symbol.