Oppositions & Obstacles 4 – God Is With Us
Updated: Mar 13, 2020
Chan Gin Kai
The Temple reconstruction had stopped and God sent two prophets, Haggai and Zechariah to get the Jews to start building again.
Then Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, Joshua son of Jozadak, the high priest, and the whole remnant of the people obeyed the voice of the Lord their God and the message of the prophet Haggai, because the Lord their God had sent him. And the people feared the Lord. Then Haggai, the Lord’s messenger, gave this message of the Lord to the people: “I am with you,” declares the Lord. So the Lord stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and the spirit of Joshua son of Jozadak, the high priest, and the spirit of the whole remnant of the people. They came and began to work on the house of the Lord Almighty, their God, on the twenty-fourth day of the sixth month. (Haggai 1:12-15)
After Haggai’s rebuke, the people repented, and God assured the people that He was with them. This inspired the people to start building the Temple again.
And of course opposition started again too.
At that time Tattenai, governor of Trans-Euphrates, and Shethar-Bozenai and their associates went to them and asked, “Who authorized you to rebuild this temple and to finish it?” They also asked, “What are the names of those who are constructing this building?” But the eye of their God was watching overthe elders of the Jews, and they were not stopped until a report could go to Darius and his written reply be received. (Ezra 5:3-5)
This time, it was Tattenai, the governor of the region of Trans-Euphrates, which Judea was a part of. He questioned who gave them the authority to start the Temple reconstruction. He then sent a report to King Darius to find out if his predecessor, King Cyrus, had indeed allowed the Jews to do so.
Tattenai was fair in the letter he wrote. Unlike the later opposers who wrote to the later kings (Xerxes and Artaxerxes) to stop the Jews from rebuilding the city walls, Tattenai did not fabricate lies about the Jews. Perhaps he could have been a fair guy, but I believe it was because God promised He was with the Jews.
It would have taken a few months for the letter to reach Darius, a few more months for Darius to search the royal archives, and then another few months for Darius’ reply to reach them. But because God was watching over His people, they were not stopped from rebuilding in the meantime.
King Darius then issued an order, and they searched in the archives stored in the treasury at Babylon. A scroll was found in the citadel of Ecbatana in the province of Media, and this was written on it:” (Ezra 6:1-2)
Darius ordered for a search in the archives of Babylon, and they couldn’t find the decree of Cyrus. Instead, it was finally found in a different city, Ecbatana, more than 600km away. It was the custom of the Persian kings to winter in Babylon and go to Susa or Ecbatana in the summer.
After failing to find Cyrus’ decree in Babylon, it would have been easy for Darius to simply write back to Tattenai and say that there was no such decree. There was no need for them to do such a thorough search in multiple cities hundreds of kilometres apart. Again, God must have moved His hand here, to make sure that Cyrus’ decree was found.
Darius’ reply to Tattenai certainly showed God’s power at work! He instructed Tattenai, “Do not interfere with the work on this temple of God.” (Ezra 6:7a) He also ordered that the builders’ “expenses are to be fully paid out of the royal treasury, from the revenues of Trans-Euphrates, so that the work will not stop.” (Ezra 6:8b). Ironically, this was money out of Tattenai’s budget for his province. He tried to stop the Jews, and now he had to fund their Temple reconstruction instead.
Darius’ command strongly favoured the Jews, “Whatever is needed – young bulls, rams, male lambs for burnt offerings to the God of heaven, and wheat, salt, wine and olive oil, as requested by the priests in Jerusalem – must be given them daily without fail, so that they may offer sacrifices pleasing to the God of heaven and pray for the well-being of the king and his sons.” (Ezra 6:9-10)
Darius ended off with a threat to make sure Tattenai wouldn’t dare to oppose the rebuilding of the Temple again, “Furthermore, I decree that if anyone defies this edict, a beam is to be pulled from their house and they are to be impaled on it. And for this crime their house is to be made a pile of rubble.” (Ezra 6:11)
God had promised His people through Haggai, “I am with you”, and true to His words, He moved His hands powerfully to help them. God has promised that He is with us too.
With God beside us, we need fear no opposers. No power on earth or the spiritual realms can defeat us when God moves His powerful hands. Let’s stand firm in our trust in God, for our victory is assured.
If God is for us, who can be against us? (Romans 8:31b)
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Chan Gin Kai
Gin Kai is a film producer who believes in the power of media to inspire positive changes. He has spearheaded disaster relief and capacity building projects in impoverished communities across Asia. In church, he serves as a mentor to young professionals in the EDGE Ministry. He describes himself as "just a sinner who wants to get right with God". Gin Kai joined the Central Christian Church in 1988.