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Bible Commentaries

F. B. Hole's Old and New Testament Commentary
Ezra 5

 

 

Verses 1-17

IN CONSIDERING THE first four chapters we noted six things that marked the revival granted to the Jews, as recorded by Ezra. Let us briefly recapitulate them. There was: —

1. A return to God's original centre.

2. No claim to powers they had forfeited by previous failure.

3. A spirit of devotedness and self-sacrifice.

4. Obedience to the word of God.

5. A position of separation from the surrounding world, and consequently,

6. Opposition from the world.

We now begin to read chapter 5, and at once there meets us a seventh feature, which completes the picture immediately before us. The work on the house of God having ceased, because of the contrary edict from the Persian usurper, God's Word was found in power amongst them, through the two prophets, Haggai and Zechariah. The result of this prophetic ministry was that once more the Jews began to build the house, in spite of the contrary edict.

We have the words of these two prophets preserved for us in the books that bear their names, and if we now glance for a moment at these two prophecies, we may readily perceive their general drift or scope.

Haggai's message was a very plain word of rebuke, of instruction, of encouragement. They had stopped building the house and were engaged in building nice houses for themselves all too willingly. He told them to recommence work on the house of God, and encouraged them by predictions of future glory, though warning them that they must not imagine that anything they did was perfect. The searching eye of God could perceive uncleanness in all the works of their hands.

Zechariah's message also encouraged but had in it more of visions and symbolic instruction. He foretold the advent of the Messiah, though He would be sold for thirty pieces of silver and rejected, and the sword of Jehovah would awake against Him, so that His hand might turn in blessing upon the 'little ones', who would be marked by deep repentance. Nevertheless the Messiah would return in glory as being Jehovah Himself, and Jerusalem would ultimately become Holiness unto Jehovah.

Immediately the building of the house recommenced the adversaries were up in arms. Behind these human adversaries lay the great adversary, who does not mind God's people 'feathering their own nests', but opposes all that is for God. We may wonder perhaps that the prophets incited the people to disobey the edict against the building of the house, but God knew that the usurper being dispossessed and a king of the ancient dynasty being on the throne, the way would be clear. The Darius of verse Ezra 5:6 who was mentioned in verse Ezra 5:5 of the previous chapter. was now on the throne; and just as Artaxerxes, or Smerdis, being a usurper, was inclined to reverse the edicts of his predecessors, the new king, of the ancient line, was inclined to confirm them, and reverse the decrees of the usurper.

Hence, when fresh complaint was sent up to Darius against the Jews, now again working on the temple, he caused search to be made in the records to discover the truth of the matter. This we see in the opening verse of chapter 6, but we shall do well to take note of the ground taken by the leaders of the Jews, when confronted again by their adversaries, as recorded in the latter part of chapter 5.

Their opponents put on record that when challenged their answer was twofold; both religious and political; and they put the religious reason in the first place, saying, 'We are the servants of the God of heaven and earth', and are building under His command. In the second place they quoted the original authorization they had received from Cyrus.

Their position was indeed a strong one. Centuries later Peter and the other apostles were challenged by the Jewish council in the effort to stop them preaching the risen Christ, and thus working in the spiritual building, that started on the day when the Spirit was poured forth, as narrated in Acts 2:1-47. Their answer was, 'We ought to obey God rather than men' (Acts 5:29); and so they continued to preach the Gospel in spite of the prohibition issued by: the religious authorities. Here, however, the verdict of Darius was entirely favourable. He cancelled the adverse command and confirmed the original edict of Cyrus. Thus God caused the wrath of men to praise Him, and fulfil His word.

 


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Bibliography Information
Hole, Frank Binford. "Commentary on Ezra 5:4". "F. B. Hole's Old and New Testament Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/fbh/ezra-5.html. 1947.

Lectionary Calendar
Wednesday, December 11th, 2019
the Second Week of Advent
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