Transcript Rebuilding the Temple Part Two

Episode 006-

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The decree of Cyrus in 536 B.C. is recorded in Ezra 1:1-4  Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia that the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia that he made a proclamation throughout all of his kingdom.

Cyrus recognizing an Isaiah prophecy [Isaiah 44:28] as a personal directive began his degree with these words:

Ezra 1:1 The Lord God of heaven hath given me all the kingdoms of the earth and he hath charged me to build him in house in Jerusalem which is in Judah.

Cyrus continued:  who is there among you of all his people, his god be with him and then they would 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.

Now how do you suppose Cyrus knew that God had appointed him to do this thing?

Babylon had fallen in 539 B.C. and it was three years later that Cyrus declared himself king. During that time he must have conferred with Daniel.

At the decree of Cyrus 50,000 people from Benjamin, Judah, Levi and the priesthood traveled to Jerusalem and they were able to complete the altar before the fall Festivals in that year and they observed the fall Festivals.

Then they gathered materials and in the spring of the next year they laid the foundations of the temple, however the Samaritans, the Ammonites and the people from Gaza were not pleased.

When the Darius the Mede became king of the Achaemenid Empire he reorganized the kingdom and he established 120 provinces and over those officials were three presidents and he made Daniel chief of the three presidents.

This led to certain jealousies and there were political plots against Daniel and Daniel’s political enemies managed to contrive a stratagem in which to trap Darius within the system of his own laws and Darius was forced by his laws and because of a rash decree, to cast Daniel into a den of lions.

Remember that this Darius the Mede had been governor of the province of Babylon under king Cyrus and Cambyses since 538 B.C. and he was very close to Darius, and Daniel were well acquainted with one another and they were very fond of one another and excellent friends having been so for sixteen years.

So this Darius was loath to throw Daniel into the den of lions, yet he was required to do so because of the way the law was set up at that time.

The King had commanded that no person was to make a petition of any God for a month and Daniel openly defied the decree praying before an open window so the public and his rivals could see him; and the King had no choice except to fulfill his decree and cast Daniel into the den of lion.

Daniel tells us in Chapter 9 of his book that during the first year of Darius he fasted and prayed for three weeks for the rebuilding of the temple and the deliverance of Jerusalem.

Who knows whether his political rivals understood what he was doing and used God’s promise to Jeremiah that in 70 years the temple will be rebuilt? who knows whether Daniel’s rivals conspired to have the King make such a decree because they knew that Daniel would be fasting and praying and would therefore ignore the decree?

In this case fasting did not mean abstaining from all food and drink, it meant abstaining from all pleasant food and drink and subsisting on bread and water which Daniel did for three weeks.

Regardless of the exact nature and reasoning behind the political intrigue, the intriguers caused king Darius to issue the decree and the king was forced to throw Daniel into the den of lions.

The king hated to do this and he worked hard to try and save Daniel but he could not. 

Lets pick up the story here in Daniel 6:23 Daniel had just spent the night in the den of lions and the king was exceedingly glad for him when he saw that he had been delivered and was alive and commanded that they should take Daniel up out of the den.

Daniel was taken up out of the den and no manner of hurt or harm was found upon him because he believed in and in fact he obeyed his God.

Deeply impressed by God’s deliverance of Daniel who had already been the King’s favorite Darius made a decree to all the people in Babylon:

Daniel 6:25 then King Darius wrote unto all the people nations and languages that dwelt in all the earth that is within his realm peace be multiplied unto you.  I make a decree that in every Dominion of my kingdom, men tremble and fear before the God of Daniel for he is on the Living God and steadfast forever; and his kingdom will not be destroyed and his Dominion shall be even unto the end. He delivers and rescues on the earth and he makes signs and wonders in heaven and in the earth, who has delivered Daniel from the power of the lions.

The king also ordered that all the conspirators be cast into the lion’s den themselves and they were overcome and destroyed by the lions.

Daniel had been fasting and praying that the temple would be rebuilt and completed according to the 70 year prophecy given to Jeremiah, and after he had prayed and fasted God sent his angel who revealed to Daniel a new prophecy about the appearance of Messiah; but in addition to that God sent Haggai in Zechariah to encourage the Zerubbabel and Joshua and the people to resume rebuilding the temple. 

The people stood up and they began to build and the Samaritans were very upset and the Samaritans wrote letters to the King Darius and he ordered the construction work stopped.

As soon as the Persian governor of Palestine Tatnai, gave Zerubbabel the stop-work order he would have protested.  Then Tatnai the Persian governor of Palestine wrote to king Darius on behalf of Zerubbabel to say that Cyrus the Great had ordered the construction in the beginning.

God worked the whole situation out so miraculously because when Darius saw God had delivered Daniel from the Lions he was disposed to quickly act when he received a letter from the Persian governor Tatnai.

Tatnai wrote to King Darius saying, this is recorded in Ezra 5:17 if it seem good to the king let there be search made in the kings treasure house which is there at Babylon whether it be so that a decree was made by Cyrus the king to build this house of God at Jerusalem and let the king send his pleasure to us concerning this matter.

Darius then quickly ordered a search and the search was made and the original decree of Cyrus was found.

Then we find that Darius issued his own decree confirming the original decree of Cyrus and Darius ordered the construction resumed.

We find the decree of Darius in Ezra 6:1 Then Darius the king made a decree, and search was made in the house of the rolls, where the treasures were laid up in Babylon. 6:2 And there was found at Achmetha, in the palace that is in the province of the Medes, a roll, and therein was a record thus written:

6:3 In the first year of Cyrus the king the same Cyrus the king made a decree concerning the house of God at Jerusalem, Let the house be builded, the place where they offered sacrifices, and let the foundations thereof be strongly laid; the height thereof threescore cubits, and the breadth thereof threescore cubits; 6:4 With three rows of great stones, and a row of new timber: and let the expenses be given out of the king’s house:

6:5 And also let the golden and silver vessels of the house of God, which Nebuchadnezzar took forth out of the temple which is at Jerusalem, and brought unto Babylon, be restored, and brought again unto the temple which is at Jerusalem, every one to his place, and place them in the house of God.

6:6 Now therefore, Tatnai, governor beyond the river, Shetharboznai, and your companions the Apharsachites, which are beyond the river, be ye far from thence:

6:7 Let the work of this house of God alone; let the governor of the Jews and the elders of the Jews build this house of God in his place.  6:8 Moreover I make a decree what ye shall do to the elders of these Jews for the building of this house of God: that of the king’s goods, even of the tribute beyond the river, forthwith expenses be given unto these men, that they be not hindered.

6:9 And that which they have need of, both young bullocks, and rams, and lambs, for the burnt offerings of the God of heaven, wheat, salt, wine, and oil, according to the appointment of the priests which are at Jerusalem, let it be given them day by day without fail: 6:10 That they may offer sacrifices of sweet savours unto the God of heaven, and pray for the life of the king, and of his sons.

The king adds the pain of death for any disobedience.

6:11 Also I have made a decree, that whosoever shall alter this word, let timber be pulled down from his house, and being set up, let him be hanged thereon; and let his house be made a dunghill for this.

6:12 And the God that hath caused his name to dwell there destroy all kings and people, that shall put to their hand to alter and to destroy this house of God which is at Jerusalem. I Darius have made a decree; let it be done with speed.

The temple was completed in the twelfth biblical month {February/March] and the people kept the Passover the next month.

6:15 And this house was finished on the third day of the month Adar, which was in the sixth year (516 B.C.) of the reign of Darius the king.

 

In these things we see fulfilled God’s prophecy:

  • that Israel would go into captivity to the Assyrians
  • that Judah would go into captivity to Babylon 
  • that those Jews and Israelites who fled to Egypt would be destroyed there
  • that in the days of Nebuchadnezzar’s grandson the kingdom of Babylon would be transferred to the Medes and Persians
  • that after 70 years from the destruction of the temple, the temple would be rebuilt.

Friends there is a God, he keeps his Word and when he says something be sure that it will come to pass.

Let me go very briefly over a timeline of the building of the temple:

  • First the people went up to Jerusalem with Zerubbabel to build the temple according to the decree of Cyrus in 536 B.C.
  • Cyrus had appointed Shealtiel  which is the Persian name for Zerubbabel, governor of the Jews in Jerusalem and Judea this is in Ezra 5:16. 
  • Zerubbabel  and Joshua the high priest went with the people out of Babylon to Jerusalem and they built the altar in time to sacrifice during the Feast of the seventh month.
  • Then construction of the temple foundation began in the second year, little progress was made due to intense opposition from the local people especially the Samaritans and the lack of support they received.
  • Meanwhile in the first year of Darius, Daniel fasts and prays and is given the prophecy of Messiah and in that year he was also thrown into the lions den.
  • In the second year of Darius, Haggai and Zechariah began to prophesy and encourage the people at Jerusalem to rebuild the temple and the construction resumed.
  • This resumption of construction infuriated the Samaritans who immediately wrote a letter of protest to King Darius and he halted the construction based on the content of their letter.
  • The Persian governor Tatnai received the stop-work order and gave it to Zerubbabel and immediately [they must have agreed]; Tatnai  sent a letter to Darius asking him to search out whether the construction had originally been ordered by Cyrus the Great.
  • Darius keen for his friend Daniel and deeply impressed by Daniels deliverance from the lions immediately did a search and the decree of Cyrus was found.
  • Therefore Darius issued his own decree ordering an immediate resumption of construction and ordering all people to give every possible help and aid to further that construction.
  • The rebuilding of the temple was completed exactly 70 years after the temple was broken up and burned; fulfilling the Word of God by the Prophet Jeremiah.