MAY 20

Chapters 4 and 5 describe two other key events in the history of the remnant of Israel. In chapters 1 and 2 the work of the Lord was progressing well. But now Satan steps in.

In chapter 4 we find the remnant resisting the enemy. Satan never wants the work of the Lord to prosper. Christ is always the builder, and Satan always tries to destroy. We now see Satan's hand as he seeks to oppose and hinder the work. For nearly fifteen years the work on the Temple ceased. However, in chapter 5, the work is resumed. Actually, there is about a fifteen-year span of time between chapters 4 and 5, and it is not until the Word of God is proclaimed by the two prophets, Haggai and Zechariah, that the work on the Temple begins again. Notice carefully that it was the Word of God that began the work (Ezra 1:1); now it is the Word of God which encourages the workers to ultimately finish the work (chapter 6:14). From 520 to 515 b.c., the people labored feverishly and finished the Temple. What was the secret of the victory of completing the Temple? I sincerely believe it was the preaching of God's Word. For no work can stand, apart from the Word of God.

Chapter 6 records the completion of the Temple. The Jews joyfully dedicated the house of the Lord, even though the building was not as grand and glorious as Solomon's Temple. They kept the Passover and the Feast of the Unleavened Bread. God had answered prayer. The nation had its Temple again.

In verse 10 of chapter 7 we read, "For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the law of the Lord, and to do it, and to teach in Israel statutes and judgments." We find the secret of Israel's success in this verse. Ezra was successful in his undertaking, for he believed, "If God be for us, who can be against us?" Not only was he a godly man, but he was aware that the Lord must work in the hearts of men before anything real can happen. He acknowledged that God had moved upon the king's heart to effect the rebuilding of the Temple. He knew the meaning of Proverbs 21:1: "The king's heart is in the hand of the Lord..." God is able to change the affairs of mankind through the believing prayer of one saint!

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