Original Entry Date 12/15/2012: In the Book of Ezra we read how God stirs the heart of Cyrus, King of Persia, to proclaim that there is only one Sovereign God.
It had been nearly 70 years since the Jews had been taken into captivity by the Babylonians. They had utterly destroyed all that was there, including the Temple of God.
God spoke to Cyrus, commanding him to send His people back to Jerusalem so they could begin to rebuild His House!
Pretty amazing! And that wasn’t all either: God commanded that the supplies for building be provided. King Cyrus made certain to include this in his proclamation sent throughout his kingdom.
He also returned the items Nebuchadnezzar stole from God’s Holy Temple.
2 Thus says Cyrus king of Persia:
All the kingdoms of the earth the Lord God of heaven has given me. And He has commanded me to build Him a [a]house at Jerusalem which is in Judah. 3 Who is among you of all His people? May his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem which is in Judah, and build the house of the Lord God of Israel (He is God), which is in Jerusalem. 4 And whoever is left in any place where he dwells, let the men of his place help him with silver and gold, with goods and livestock, besides the freewill offerings for the house of God which is in Jerusalem.Ezra 1:2-4 NKJV
7 King Cyrus also brought out the articles of the house of the Lord, which Nebuchadnezzar had taken from Jerusalem and put in the [d]temple of his gods; 8 and Cyrus king of Persia brought them out by the hand of Mithredath the treasurer, and counted them out to Sheshbazzar the prince of Judah. 9 This is the number of them: thirty gold platters, one thousand silver platters, twenty-nine knives, 10 thirty gold basins, four hundred and ten silver basins of a similar kind, and one thousand other articles. 11 All the articles of gold and silver were five thousand four hundred. All these Sheshbazzar took with the captives who were brought from Babylon to Jerusalem.Ezra 1:7-11NkJV
Fast forward to the Book of Nehemiah. At this point in time, the Israelites had sent two masses of people back to Jerusalem to begin the rebuilding process.
Some, were still in the exiled land, such as Nehemiah, who was set as the cupbearer for the King of Persia, Artaxerxes.
Have you ever noticed that whenever you are moving in and doing the Will of God, opposition arises? That is exactly what the Israelites faced as they moved forward with God’s Temple. Nehemiah was greatly troubled by this report:
…..I asked them concerning the Jews who had escaped, who had survived the captivity, and concerning Jerusalem. 3 And they said to me, “The survivors who are left from the captivity in the province are there in great distress and reproach. The wall of Jerusalem is also broken down, and its gates are burned with fire.”
4 So it was, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned for many days; I was fasting and praying before the God of heaven.
5 And I said: “I pray, Lord God of heaven, O great and awesome God, You who keep Your covenant and mercy with those who love [c]You and observe [d]Your commandments, 6 please let Your ear be attentive and Your eyes open, that You may hear the prayer of Your servant which I pray before You now, day and night, for the children of Israel Your servants, and confess the sins of the children of Israel which we have sinned against You. Both my father’s house and I have sinned. 7 We have acted very corruptly against You, and have not kept the commandments, the statutes, nor the ordinances which You commanded Your servant Moses. 8 Remember, I pray, the word that You commanded Your servant Moses, saying, ‘If you [e]are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the nations; 9 but if you return to Me, and keep My commandments and do them, though some of you were cast out to the farthest part of the heavens, yet I will gather them from there, and bring them to the place which I have chosen as a dwelling for My name.’ 10 Now these are Your servants and Your people, whom You have redeemed by Your great power, and by Your strong hand. 11 O Lord, I pray, please let Your ear be attentive to the prayer of Your servant, and to the prayer of Your servants who desire to fear Your name; and let Your servant prosper this day, I pray, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man.”
For I was the king’s cupbearer.Nehemiah 1:2-11 NKJV
—-quick note here but did anyone else think that the King in Nehemiah was the same King as in the Book of Ezra? Well, I wanted to make sure I was correct because, hey, two different names, Cyrus and Artaxerxes, go figure LOL.
One reason I thought it was the same king was because he too was similar in heart as Cyrus when Nehemiah requests to go back to Jerusalem. He even provided building materials, and documents to help Nehemiah pass through the land with no delay. These two accounts with those two kings are a definite example of how God works through who He chooses.
Nehemiah goes out in the night to examine the ruins of the Holy City of Jerusalem (its actually pretty interesting how he walks the property, if you’re interested take a gander at 2:11-16).
After he sees the terrible state Jerusalem is in Nehemiah, has no time to mess around:
17 Then I said to them, “You see the distress that we are in, how Jerusalem lies waste, and its gates are burned with fire. Come and let us build the wall of Jerusalem, that we may no longer be a reproach.” 18 And I told them of the hand of my God which had been good upon me, and also of the king’s words that he had spoken to me.Nehemiah 2:17-18 NKJV
Chapter 3 documents the building process un Nehemiah but as I said earlier, when we move for God the enemy tries to hinder that movement.
But it so happened, when Sanballat heard that we were rebuilding the wall, that he was furious and very indignant, and mocked the Jews. 2 And he spoke before his brethren and the army of Samaria, and said, “What are these feeble Jews doing? Will they fortify themselves? Will they offer sacrifices? Will they complete it in a day? Will they revive the stones from the heaps of rubbish—stones that are burned?”Nehemiah 4:1-2
6 So we built the wall, and the entire wall was joined together up to half its height, for the people had a mind to work.
7 Now it happened, when Sanballat, Tobiah, the Arabs, the Ammonites, and the Ashdodites heard that the walls of Jerusalem were being restored and the gaps were beginning to be closed, that they became very angry, 8 and all of them conspired together to come and attack Jerusalem and create confusion. 9 Nevertheless we made our prayer to our God, and because of them we set a watch against them day and night.
10 Then Judah said, “The strength of the laborers is failing, and there is so much rubbish that we are not able to build the wall.”
11 And our adversaries said, “They will neither know nor see anything, till we come into their midst and kill them and cause the work to cease.”
12 So it was, when the Jews who dwelt near them came, that they told us ten times, “From whatever place you turn, they will be upon us.”
13 Therefore I positioned men behind the lower parts of the wall, at the openings; and I set the people according to their families, with their swords, their spears, and their bows. 14 And I looked, and arose and said to the nobles, to the leaders, and to the rest of the people, “Do not be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, great and awesome, and fight for your brethren, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your houses.”
The GAPS of the wall were being filled. This is a reminder of the importance of standing in the gap for our fellow brothers and sisters in the Lord.
15 And it happened, when our enemies heard that it was known to us, and that God had brought their plot to nothing, that all of us returned to the wall, everyone to his work. 16 So it was, from that time on, that half of my servants worked at construction, while the other half held the spears, the shields, the bows, and wore armor; and the leaders [b]were behind all the house of Judah. 17 Those who built on the wall, and those who carried burdens, loaded themselves so that with one hand they worked at construction, and with the other held a weapon. 18 Every one of the builders had his sword girded at his side as he built. And the one who sounded the trumpet was beside me.Nehemiah 4:17-18 NKJV
This is how the Body of Christ should be today: Together, building the Kingdom of God while at the same time, and at all times ready to battle in times of attack.
One hand building (extending the Kingdom of God) and the other wielding the sword, which is the Word of God.