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April 20, 2023 - Ezra 3-6

And, so, “when the seventh month came, and the children of Israel were in the towns, the people gathered as one man to Jerusalem” (3:1). They reestablished the priests. They rebuilt the altar and sacrificed on it. And they began to rebuild the temple, but with the foundation laid, the people became discouraged. Also, enemies opposed the building. And the Persian king even issued a decree that the work cease. But God raised up the prophets Haggai and Zechariah to encourage the people, and Darius instructed his governors, “Keep away. Let the work on this house of God alone" (6:7). Furthermore, Darius decreed, “And whatever is needed—bulls, rams, or sheep for burnt offerings to the God of heaven, wheat, salt, wine, or oil, as the priests at Jerusalem require—let that be given to them day by day without fail” (6:9). And by 516 B.C., the temple was completed. Wow! God not only provided the wherewithal, but also human players, and he turns kings to do his bidding. The people might well have sung something like:

Lord of hosts, To Thee we raise

Here a house of prayer and praise;

Thou Thy people’s hearts prepare

Here to meet for praise and prayer.

Let the living here be fed

With Thy Word, the heavenly bread;

Here reveal Thy mercy sure,

While the sun and moon endure.

Hallelujah!--earth and sky

To the joyful sound reply;

Hallelujah!--hence ascend

Prayer and praise till time shall end. -- James Montgomery (1830)

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