Ezra 5 Commentary
Two prominent post-exile prophets, Haggai and Zechariah step up to encourage the reconstruction effort. The two prophetic books bearing their names have details on their respective work. It is the function of the pulpit to encourage the saints to provide a suitable dwelling place for their God. And here the remnant desperately needed this ministry as they faced organized opposition from highly placed enemies.
From the short but very powerful Book of Haggai, we learn about other important enemies of the construction work: personal projects and discouragement. The need to construct personal homes distracted people away from concentrating on providing the LORD a suitable dwelling place. The thought that I must be comfortable before I serve the LORD is very real for all mortals.
Discouragement came from the thought that the temple wasn’t the big project that the people had dreamed of. It is to this kind of thought that Haggai would declare: “the glory of this present house will be greater than the glory of the former house,” says the Lord Almighty. “And in this place, I will grant peace,” declares the Lord Almighty. How the saint treats the small tasks from the LORD says everything about their love for the LORD.
According to Zechariah, discouragement also came from slow progress. People may have looked at the opposition and considered themselves too insufficient to carry on with the work. It is in these times that the prophet Zechariah declared: “Who dares despise the day of small things.” And concerning the thought of self-unworthiness the prophet would declare: “Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord Almighty.”
This chapter is focused on organized and high-level opposition from the ruling authorities. It reminds the saint of the current happenings in the world today. In many places, saints have to provide a legal basis for worshipping the LORD. Laws and regulations are in place to restrict the true worship of the LORD, while at the same time actively encouraging immorality.
So we see Tettenai, the governor of Trans-Euphrates, write to the emperor with the sole purpose of stopping the work on the temple of the LORD. Emperor Darius responds to Tettenai’s letter but the response is not exactly what Tettenai had expected. The next chapter is focused on the emperor’s response but that is for tomorrow.
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