The book of Ezra starts where 2 Chronicles left off. Cyrus, king of Persia fulfilled what God had spoken through Jeremiah. Verse 1 says, “…the Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, so that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom…”
I love verse 2. It says, “…the Lord God of heaven has commanded me to build Him a house at Jerusalem…” God commanded a pagan king to do His work. Amazing.
Cyrus asked God’s people, who were in captivity, who wanted to go up to Jerusalem and build the temple. Ezra 2:64 says, “The whole assembly together was forty-two thousand three hundred and sixty.”
I want to note two things: God used two pagan kings to motivate His people to do His work. He used Haggai’s prophecy to bring them out of their discouragement.
Ezra 3:8 says that they began and laid the foundation of the temple. In Ezra 4:4 the enemy swooped in and tried to discourage them. Verse 5 they hired counselors against them to frustrate their purpose all the days of Cyrus.
The enemy then opposed them through the next king. They set him up to believe their conspiracy through evil intent. Verse 21 says, “Now give the command to make these men cease….” Verse 23-24 says that they forced them to cease, and the work was discontinued until the second year of Darius.
Let me take you to Haggai 1. It says, “In the second year of King Darius…the word of the Lord came by Haggai…” As a result of his word, the Spirit of the Lord stirred up the people to resume the work of building the temple.
Ezra 5:5 says, “But the eye of their God was upon the elders of the Jews…” His eye is on us right now with our nations’ situation. They sent a letter to Darius. He made a diligent search and issued a decree. Ezra 6:7 says, “Let the work of this house of God alone…” Then he commanded the enemy to pay for it all from the king’s taxes! In verse 10 Darius asked them to pray for him and his sons!
After they finished the temple they celebrated with the passover. Verse 22 says, “…for the Lord made them joyful, and turned the heart of the king of Assyria toward them, to strengthen their hands in the work of the house of God, the God of Israel.”
When the enemy taunts you, do not give in to his tactic to discourage you from the work the Lord has called you to do. Discouragement stops our ears from hearing and our eyes from seeing. It blocks discernment. It causes spiritual lethargy. Haggai 1 is a great description of the fruit from discouragement.
We cannot allow the media to dictate to our ears and our eyes. We must keep our focus on Jesus alone. He used a donkey to speak to Balaam. He used two pagan kings to do His work. He can use our national crises to fulfill His desire for our nation.