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Ezra 1:1

“Now in the first year of Cyrus, king of Persia, that the word of Yehovah, by the mouth of the prophet Jeremiah might be fulfilled, Yehovah stirred up the Spirit of Cyrus, king of Persia, that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom and in writing said;”

The events of time are all interrelated; not one event happens isolated from those things which preceded it or independent from those which should follow. Everything is built, line upon line and precept upon precept, to shew forth the magnificent unity of the purpose of God’s eternal will, who has created all things for His pleasure and who causes all things to come to pass for His Beloved.

The military endeavours of Darius the Median coincided with the drunken revelry of Belshazzar, king of the Chaldeans, on the self-same day in which Yehovah God revealed the debauchery of the king and the limitations of his life by the figure of a man’s hand writing upon the wall. This epiphany quickly sobered the king as he called for his wise men, astrologers, soothsayers and magicians to interpret the writing. The meaning was hidden from these men of higher learning but unto the child of the captivity, the Lord made known the words.

The words indicated that the pride of the king and his ways had been weighed in the balance of God’s righteousness and were found wanting. God had indeed raised this man to the throne and endowed him with all the necessary ingredients to make him the king God intended him to be yet nothing he could do could possibly measure up to the perfect standard of the holiness of God. Thus being a child of Adam and dead in trespasses and sin, a child of the Devil whose word he performed and the instrument of Yehovah God, this king was placed in the exact conditions which enabled the promotion of Daniel to the chief of all understandings and the third ruler in all the land only moments before his kingdom was overthrown and he was killed.

There was another set up of God, to rule in this empire named Cyrus, whose reign was established years before Darius but was to coincide with him in the ruling over the land of the Chaldeans. Darius was the ‘lord’ or master of the land while Cyrus was the one unto who was committed the ‘possession of the furnace’. This is the one whose hand was held by Yehovah for the subduing of the nations for the Lord God Omnipotent had made the crooked ways straight before him and gave him the “hidden riches of the secret places, that you may know that I am Yehovah which called you by your name, the God of Israel” (Is. 45:1ff).

This man was made a fierce and successful king for the sake of Jacob, the elect servant of God, and, even though Cyrus did not know Yehovah God, yet his actions were so ordered to fulfill His will upon the earth for the good of the Beloved. His heart, as any other who is ordained of old to sit in the position of authority, lives and moves at the direction of the Sovereign God and though he may rant and rave, be successful in military campaigns or diplomatic strategy; be the salvation of the land, a raving lunatic or a tyrannical dictator yet; “the king’s heart is in the hand of Yehovah: as the rivers of water, He turns it withersoever He wills” (Pro. 21:1).

The actions of this man were foretold of old as the Lord sent His messengers to the nation of Judah who, after witnessing the spiritual decadence and adultery of her sister Israel had done more treacherously in profaning the name of the Lord and the pollution of His inheritance. The nation as a whole was shown by the handwriting of ordinances that they could neither keep the law nor find any forgiveness in their attempts to be righteous before the Holy God. Yet, though they made alliances with the people of the land, altered the types and foreshadows to make them more palatable to the natural ways of man and followed after the gods of the land, burning incense to the idols and pouring out drink offerings to the queen of heaven and her authorial maidens, the long-suffering of God was set to suffer that angry wave to come so far but no further.

He divided the kingdom into two portions and manifested the sin of the ‘contention of the people’ (Jeroboam) through the belief in a lie so that the northern nation of Israel would stand as the testimony to the ways of man. False temples, false priests and false rituals and traditions were accepted by the people, who called themselves by the name of Yehovah, as they “changed the truth of God into a lie and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed forever, Amen” (Rms. 1:25). These followed the ways of the sons of the dust “feeding on the wind and following after the east wind, daily increasing in lies and desolations, making covenants with the Assyrians and oil is carried into Egypt” (Hos 12:1). Thus the northern tribes were delivered into the hands of the Assyrians ad the nation was destroyed.

The nation of Judah saw all these things and not one of their natural hearts were not moved to repentance. They devised more treacherous ways to pollute the land and blaspheme the name of their God, but God did not leave them without a witness. He raised up several children of grace to the throne over the people and led them into social and religious reforms which were accompanied by brief times of peace. One such man was Hezekiah, the ‘strength of Yehovah’, against whom the Lord sent His servants from Assyria (see Is. 10:5) to weaken the hands of the people and defile the name of Yehovah. The strength of Yehovah, however, could not be moved for even the gates of hell cannot prevail against Him and when He delivered Jerusalem from these blasphemers, Hezekiah was brought down with a sickness.

This sickness was not unto death and after the Lord had humbled His servant, He sent His messenger Isaiah to confirm the Lord of Hosts to His chosen vessel. But this recovery was for the purpose of the entertaining of an emissary from Babylon whom Hezekiah received: and shewed them all the precious things, the silver, the gold, the spices, the precious ointment and all the house of armour and all that was found in the treasure; there was nothing in his house or in all his dominion that Hezekiah did not shew them (II Kings 20:13). Such actions were rightly rebuked by Isaiah and Hezekiah was told of the hand of the Lord upon him and his house for his actions, but, this was ordained of the Lord for good.

“Also Cyrus, the king, brought forth the vessels of the house of the Lord which Nebuchadnezzar had brought forth out of Jerusalem and had put into the house of his gods” (Ezra 1:7)

God had the treasures of Jerusalem removed by King Nebuchadnezzar in his conquest of Judah and the destruction of Jerusalem and for over one hundred and sixty years He kept them safe in the treasuries of the evil Babylonian empire. He kept the eyes of man from seeing the precious things of value sitting in the house of their gods and, causing the Babylonian empire to be prosperous in their military campaigns and social programs, He removed the need for these things. This vast wealth of precious value was taken from the Kingdom of Judah who, as the account shows, would have spent it in attempting to bribe the world leaders to find favour and protection from the invaders; thus this treasure would have been as scattered in the world as the people were. But according to the wisdom of God, which is consummate to His will, it was preserved by being hidden in plain sight waiting the appointed time when God would call them forth for the facilitating of His promise in testimony to His sovereign way.

The event in question was yet another type of the coming of Messiah which was still over five hundred years in the future. God placed the right man upon the throne who is the keeper of the furnace of the appointed affliction of the Lord’s people. He ignorantly protects the flame by supplying the fuel as the people lived in servitude for seventy years. God then moves upon him, without a social uprising and contrary to what could be called good business, turning his heart toward His people. Yehovah causes the king to be altruistic toward the captivity that resided in his domain, for indeed they did not deserve any favour, and to proclaim throughout his kingdom the emancipation of these captives.

These men and women served as tributary and indentured labour in his land and there is no natural reason that should demand that he not only set them free but empowered them to go forth to do this work. There was also nothing for these people to return to since not only had the city and Temple walls been torn down by the invading army but all that remained had been burnt with fire (II Kings 25:9). Yet, this heathen king, which the scriptures give us not testimony of being a child of grace, had a visit and a word from the King of the Universe instructing him to give leave to His people to do His work; Cyrus heard the voice, he listened to the words and he obeyed the unseen God!

“The whole congregation together was forty two thousand, three hundred and sixty”

The same Spirit of Almighty God which had stirred the heart of Cyrus stirred the hearts of His people to do the work He required. This inspiration was not for all the people and there was no recruitment procedure needed for when Cyrus called for the workmen, all with whom Yehovah God was with came forth to build the house of Yehovah God in Judah. There were some for whom this work was not intended and for whatever reason, these were not given the heart to return, but still the hand of God was not silent in the matter. He moved some of these who remained to give liberally of their own silver and gold with goods and beasts, beside the freewill offering for the house of God in Jerusalem (1:4).

Herein is the evidence that the work which Yehovah God has ordained to be completed are precisely calculated and brought to pass by the great King over all the earth without the initiative or inventions of man. Adam is most certainly an intricate part of the events of time and space upon this earth but it is the hand of the Almighty that rules and commands over everything. Now with the king properly moved into believing that he was building the house for Yehovah God and the work force amply supplied and enabled, the keeper of the furnace, wherein the flame was protected, brought forth the treasures of Judah by the hand of ‘the genius of the sun’ (Mith-re-dath) and delivers them to the ‘worshipper of the fire’, Shesh-bazzar, who indeed is Zerbu-babel.

This man was raised up by the hand of God to be over the people as they returned to the land to rebuild the Temple. The confusion of Babylon had finished the course set for it as the Sabbath of years for the land was now completed (II Chr. 36:21). With all preparations finished and everything in the land set to receive these people, in the fullness of time, Zerub-babel came forth with the ‘salvation’ and ‘comfort’ of the ‘ruling of Yehovah’ as a ‘little man’ lacking the ‘eloquence of speech’ but having ‘compassion’ for ‘my body’ ‘in affliction’ being the only one, ordained of God, to bring forth the headstone, crying “Grace, grace unto Him” (Zech. 4:7).

There is no praise to a son of Adam here anymore than praise is due unto the keeper of the furnace for his obedience to the unknown God. These men stand as the representation of the coming of Messiah who is the Anointed Salvation of Yehovah before whom every knee bows proclaiming that He alone is the Lord and Master of the universe. He alone came forth in the fullness of time out of the mess of confusion by mixing which is the result when man does that which is good in his sight, to manifest the comfort of Yehovah for the people of His body. This He did of His own accord, for there is none that can move Him or compel Him into an action, when He made Himself of no reputation and took on the form of a servant in the likeness of sinful flesh. He did not come with the fanfare of pageantry and though He spoke the truth in wisdom and grace, yet the natural man questioned, “How does this man know letters, having never learned” (John 7:15).

He came in the lowliness of the Elect Servant as the Son of God to do the will of the Father and being anointed by the Spirit, being the fullness of the Godhead in corporeal form, He fulfilled the Law of God in complete righteousness for His name’s sake. He laid the cornerstone of His called out assembly without the assistance of the abilities of man or his advice and raised up His people to build in His Temple (Zech. 6:15). Thus the building of Yehovah, being His Bride, His Body and His church for there is no difference, is “built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself the chief corner, in whom all the building fitly framed together grows unto an holy temple of the Lord, in whom you also are built together for an habitation of God through the Spirit” (Eph. 2:20f).

Time is the parameter of events upon the stage whereon the work of God, which He finished before time began, is manifested. He established a time for every purpose under heaven and nothing falls short of the appointed time or exceeds the limitations set by His eternal decree. Man is an integral part of this on-going demonstration of the sovereignty of God over all things as the time of his habitation and his order in the ancestry of the sons of man is fixed and cannot be altered; his steps have been ordered from old, his passions and desires, being limited and corrupt, are made to conform with the prescribed operation of the will of God and none can stay His hand. The wrath of man praises God, his hands serve Him in complete all that he does and his heart is deceived, being lifted up in pride, to esteem himself more highly than he ought. The works of his hands, being ordained a necessary part of the progression of time, are worthless before God yet they feed the flame of the furnace and his mind is filled with the cares of this world and the protection of his life. This contradiction of the nature of man against the nature of the Spirit is the warfare of the children of hope

“Now when the adversaries of Judah and Benjamin heard that the children of the captivity were building the Temple of Yehovah of Israel, they came to Zerub-babel and to the chief of the fathers and said unto them, Let us build with you, for we seek your God as do you and we sacrifice unto Him since the days of Esarhaddon, king of Assur, which brought us up hither” (4:1)

As the Lord enabled these children of the captivity to return unto the land of their nativity to rebuild His Temple, so also He raised up the adversary. This was a select group of people who had a most interesting history which begins in Abraham. The ten northern tribes, being sons of Jacob, were persuaded by false news and delivered unto the desires of their hearts to establish the nation of Israel under Jeroboam. The people were given an heart to welcome the division, accept the new foreign policies of the king and to enjoy the false religion set up in contention. Everything concerning the nation of Israel was abominable before Yehovah and so He sent His prophets, rising up early and going, to call the people to repentance. The same God did not grant this repentance, which the prophet proclaimed was completely of His doing, saying, “Turn me Lord and I shall be turned” (Jer. 31:18), instead He made the heart of the people as adamant stone and took them into destruction at the hand of the Assyrians. The people were taken from the land and the land was occupied by the men from Babylon, Cuthan, Ava, and Hamath and from Sepharvaim which knew not Yehovah God or His ways. When the Lord sent lions among them and killed many, these people cried unto the king to return the people of the land so that they could teach the proper way to worship the God of the land. Those whom Jeroboam had made priest, not of the tribe of Levi, who did not possess the hand-writing of ordinances and who did not follow the sacrifices and rituals of the Temple, were returned into the land and remained the constant enemies of the children of Judah and Benjamin.

The history of this people normally gives opportunity for a depiction of the people of the world but they are not generally referred to as the earthen vessels wherein the eternal seed of the sons of God dwell. This is the common avenue for the doctrine of Adam, find a people, identify them as evil and judge yourself according to all that they do, showing yourself more worthy of God’s love and attention. This is how the Pharisee prayed in the Temple yet he was not justified before God as the lowly publican was who knew he was a sinner. The adversary of the Lord is the beast of the field which is man. The earthen shell wherein the seed has been planted, being afore prepared unto this glory by the shed blood of the Lamb, is revealed to be the inveterate foe of the child of promise as the time of habitation progresses.

The law of the members, which is unto self-preservation and aggrandizement continues to fashion the aprons of fig leaves that Adam did in the garden hoping each time to stand before the Lord and receive His approval; but the works of the hand of man are so polluted that everything they touch is immediately contaminated. His mind is so limited that he cannot know the works which God has completed from the beginning and his heart is so deceitful that he is assured that God will accept him. This is diametrically opposed to the Law of the mind wherein the children of the King delight in His perfect Law.

“...You have nothing to do with us to build an house unto our God but we ourselves together will  build unto Yehovah God of Israel as king Cyrus the king of Persia has commanded us” (4:3)

The natural man is full of the labours of this world. He enjoys the labours he has been assigned and is prevented by design from seeking higher and nobler endeavours. Thus he thrives in the environment which calls for as his assistant in other labours, being a cunning hunter and a man of the field, and praises himself for his abilities and fortitude in the work. His fellow prisoners of the dust laud his thriftiness and his ability to work as the tangible evidences are compiled yet the natural man is not suited for the work of the Kingdom of God. He cannot hear the word of God for his ears are closed by nature and because the Word of God is not intended for him to hear. The hearing of the Word of God is given unto the children of the King for where the Word of the King is, there is power; “let he that has ears to hear”.

The building of the Temple was indeed a good work yet that building, along with the walls of the city, was once again destroyed for it is temporal and cannot endure. The walls of the city that has the foundation, whose builder and maker is God, are the Salvation of Yehovah. This is eternal city that can never be affected by the actions of the creature or touched by the world but as the children of Zion walk in the tabernacles of this dwelling, they are grieved by the weakness and corruption of the creature of the land. Neither Zerub-babel nor Jeshua called upon the people to take up arms and combat the adversaries who had hired counsellors against them and had petitioned the man whom God had raised up to give the initial decree. These whom God raised up for the comfort and protection of His people made intercession as only a Father can for His beloved children.

The truth of the matter concerning the building of the Temple was revealed in the time appointed and the people were exonerated as the Lord had intended. Trials and tribulations came and weakened the hands of the people but they could never stop the work which God has already completed. The trying of the people was to prove the faith that dwelt within wherein they trusted in the Almighty God to deliver and protect as His hand pressed hard upon them. This pressing caused the labours of this world to seem insurmountable, yet by the grace of God, being sufficient to the task, each labour is completed to the praise of the Master Builder.

“I know that, whatsoever God does it shall be forever; nothing can be put to it nor anything taken away from it, and God does it that man should fear before Him. That which has been is now and that which is to be has already been and God requires that which is past” (Ecc. 3:15)

Your servant in Christ,
(Elder) Chet Dirkes
June 24, 2018