This fifth chapter of Ezra needs to be read with the first chapter of Haggai. When you put the two together you get a more complete picture of what was happening. We also get some of the questions about where God was and what the people were doing in these 16 years of cessation of the building of the temple.
In Ezra 5:1-2 we see that the prophets Haggai and Zechariah prophesied to the Jews in Judah and Jerusalem in the name of the God of Israel who was over them. We see them start to rebuild again. The prophets were with them helping them. You can assume by the renewed building effort that it was the subject of the prophecy from God that Haggai and Zechariah told them. When you read Haggai 1 you get a more detailed account than Ezra gave. Let’s take a look at some of those details:
- Verse 2, “This is what the LORD Almighty says: ‘These people say, ‘The time has not yet come for the Lord’s house to be built.”
- Verses 3 & 4, “Then the word of the LORD came through the prophet Haggai: ‘Is it a time for you yourselves to be living in your paneled houses, while this house remains a ruin?”
- Verses 5 & 6, “Now this is what the LORD Almighty says: ‘Give careful thought to your ways. You have planted much, but have harvested little. You eat, but never have enough. You drink but never have your fill. You put on clothes, but are not warm. You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it.”
- Verses 7-11, “This is what the LORD Almighty says: ‘Give careful thought to your ways. Go up into the mountains and bring down timber and build the house, so that I may take pleasure in it and be honored,” says the LORD. ‘You expected much, but see, it turned out to be little. What you brought home, I blew away. Why?’ declares the LORD Almighty. ‘Because of my house, which remains a ruin, because of you the heavens have withheld their dew and the earth its crops. I called for a drought on the fields and whatever the ground produces, on men and cattle and on the labor of your hands.”
Wow! Talk about leaving some major details out of the picture! Ezra really was a bit sketchy wasn’t he? Of course he was a leader of these people that the Lord addressed through Haggai. He was one of the ones going about their lives ignoring what God had called them to do. God made it very clear that He never intended for them to stop building on the temple, regardless of the opposition and the King’s instructions for them to stop. I had wondered when I read the end of Ezra 4 what the people were doing and where they were spiritually. I think God’s conversation with Haggai tells us volumes about the people but also about our God.
The people obviously gave up too soon. They believed the opposition was stronger than their God. They didn’t trust what God had promised through all generations that He would be with them wherever they went. Much of what the LORD Almighty said to them was about them putting themselves before Him. They used the opposition as an excuse to blame it on Him saying it just must not be His time for the temple to be rebuilt. It is much about their not being satisfied and wanting more. It talks about their being happy in their homes while His house remained in ruins. We also see He is a God who expects us to honor Him and obey what He calls us to do. His love is deeper and wider and higher than we can comprehend but He will not be mocked or treated as second to anything. I like that! I don’t have a wimpy God who allows Himself or those He loves to be mistreated. He is a Holy God, High and lifted up and though He is our Abba (daddy) Father He is the LORD God Almighty who was and is and is to come!
I am so glad to get a clearer picture of what was going on than Ezra gave us in chapter 5. We will continue on next time but I want to think about all of this for a bit. God called them to “Give careful thought” to their ways and I need to do the same. I need to pray and ask Him to reveal where I put myself first over Him in my life. I need to see if I have flippantly said, “It must not be God’s timing,” to anything that He has called me to do but a little opposition came in and I gave up.
I hope you will read Ezra 5 with Haggai 1 and let me know what God tells you about who He is. I know He has so much to tell us and I want to continue to grow in knowing God. Blessings to each of you! May our God shine His face upon you and all you love and reveal Himself in unexpected ways to you each and every day! Blessings!