Repairing the Place of Protection, Rebuilding the Place of Worship

Today’s selected reading is found in the Old Testament prophetic book of Zechariah which describes how the word of the LORD came to him in the second year of Darius the Mede. More specifically, today’s passage is found in the first six chapters of this prophetic book. AND THERE WERE TWO MORE PROPHETIC VOICES! ISAIAH, HOSEA, AMOS, MICAH DURING THE DAYS OF JOTHAM, AHAZ AND HEZEKIAH! ISAIAH, HOSEA AND AMOS DURING THE DAYS OF UZZIAH! ZEPHANIAH AND JEREMIAH DURING THE DAYS OF JOSIAH! HAGGAI AND ZECHARIAH DURING THE DAYS OF ZERUBBABEL THE GOVERNOR AND JOSHUA THE HIGH PRIEST! ”The Lord hath been sore displeased with your fathers. Therefore say thou unto them, Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Turn ye unto me, saith the LORD of hosts, and I will turn unto you, saith the LORD of hosts. Be ye not as your fathers, unto whom the former prophets have cried, saying, Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Turn ye now from your evil ways, and from your evil doings: but they did not hear, nor hearken unto me, saith the LORD” (Zechariah 1:2-4). “Your fathers, where are they? And the prophets, do they live for ever? But my words and my statutes, which I commanded my servants the prophets, did they not take hold of your fathers? And they returned and said, Like as the LORD of hosts thought to do unto us, according to our ways, and according to our doings, so hath he dealt with us” (Zechariah 1:5-6). PROPHETIC VOICES DURING DAYS OF RESTORATION! PROPHETIC VOICES DURING DAYS OF REBUILDING! PROPHETIC VOICES DURING DAYS OF RETURNING! PROPHETIC VOICES RAISED UP IN THE MIDST OF WORK! PROPHETIC VOICES TO ENCOURAGE THE WORK! “These are they whom the LORD hath sent to walk to and fro through the earth. And they answered the angel of the LORD that stood among the myrtle trees, and said, We have walkd to and fro though the earth, and, behold, all the earth sitteth still, and is at rest. Then the angel of the LORD answered and said, O LORD of hosts, how long wilt thou not have mercy on Jerusalem and on the cities of Judah, against which thou hast had indignation these threescore and ten years? And the LORD answered the angel that talked with me with good words and comfortable words” (Zechariah 1:10-13).

            “Thus saith the LORD of hosts; I am jealous for Jerusalem and for Zion with a great jealousy. And I am very sore displeased with the heathen that are at ease: For I was but a little displeased, and they helped forward the affliction. Therefore thus saith the LORD: I am returned to Jerusalem with mercies: My house shall be built in it, saith the LORD of hosts, and a line shall be stretched forth upon Jerusalem. Cry yet, saying, Thus saith the LORD of hosts; my cities through prosperity shall yet be spread abroad; and the LORD shall yet comfort Zion, and shall yet choose Jerusalem” (Zechariah 1:14-17).

            “These are the horns which have scattered Judah, Israel, and Jerusalem” (Zechariah 1:19).

            “These are the horns which have scattered Judah, so that no man did lift up his head: but these are come to fray them, to cast out the horns of the Gentiles, which lifted up their horn over the land of Judah to scatter it” (Zechariah 1:21).

            “Jerusalem shall be inhabited as towns without walls for the multitude of men and cattle therein: For I, saith the LORD, will be unto her a wall of fire round about, and will be the glory in the midst of her” (Zechariah 2:4-5).

            “Ho, ho, come forth, and flee from the land of the north, saith the LORD: For I have spread you abroad as the four winds of the heaven, saith the LORD. Delivery thyself, O Zion, that dwellest with the daughter of Babylon. For thus saith the LORD of hosts; After the glory hath he sent me unto the nations which spoiled you: For he that toucheth you toucheth the apple of his eye. For, behold, I will shake mine hand upon them, and they shall be a spoil to their servants: and ye shall know that the LORD of hosts hath sent me” (Zechariah 2:6-9).

            “Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion: For, lo, I come, and I will dwell in the midst of thee, saith the LORD. And many nations shall be joined to the LORD in that day, and shall be my people: and I will dwell in the midst of thee, and thou shalt know that the LORD of hosts hath sent me unto thee. And the LORD shall inherit Judah his portion in the holy land, and shall choose Jerusalem again. Be silent, O all flesh, before the LORD: For he is raised up out of his holy habitation” (Zechariah 2:10-13).

            “And he shewed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to resist him. And the LORD said unto Satan, The LORD rebuke thee, O Satan; Even the LORD that hath chosen Jerusalem rebuke thee: Is not this a brand plucked out of the fire? Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments, and stood before the angel. And he answered and spake unto those that stood before him, saying, Take away the filthy garments from him. And unto him he said, Behold, I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee, and I will clothe thee with change of raiment. And I said, Let them set a fair mitre upon his head. So they set a fair mitre upon his head, and clothed him with garments. And the angel of the LORD protested unto Joshua, saying, Thus saith the LORD of hosts; If thou wilt walk in my ways, and if thou wilt keep my charge, then thou shalt also judge my house, and shalt also keep my courts, and I will thee places to walk among these that stand by. Hear now, O Joshua the high priest, thou and thy fellows that sit before thee: For they are men wondered at: For, behold, I will bring forth my servant the BRANCH. For behold the stone that I have laid before Joshua; upon one stone shall be seven eyes: Behold, I will engrave the graving thereof, saith the LORD of hosts, and I will remove the iniquity of that land in one day. In that day, saith the LORD of hosts, shall ye call every man his neighbour under the vine and under the fig tree” (Zechariah 3:7-10).

            ”Then the angel that talkd with me answered and said unto me, Knowest thou not what these be? And I said, No, my lord. Then he answered and spake unto me, saying, This is the word of the LORD unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts. Who art thou, O great mountain? Before Zerubbabel thou shalt become a plain: and he shall bring forth the headstone thereof with shoutings, crying, Grace, grace unto it” (Zechariah 4:1-7).

            “Moreover the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this house; his hands shall also finish it; and thou shalt know that the LORD of hosts hath sent me unto you. For who hath despised the day of small things? For they shall rejoice, and shall see the plummet in the hand of Zerubbabel with those seven; they are the eyes of the LORD, which run to and fro through the whole earth” (Zechariah 4:8-10).

            “These are the two anointed ones, that stand by the LORD of the whole earth” (Zechariah 4:14).

            “This is the curse that goeth forth over the face of the whole earth: For every one that stealeth shall be cut off as on this side according to it; and every one that sweareth shall be cut off as on that side according to it. I will bring it forth, saith the LORD of hosts, and it shall enter into the house of the thief, and into the house of him that sweareth falsely by my name: and it shall remain in the midst of his house, and shall consume it with the timber thereof and the stones thereof” (Zechariah 4:3-4).

            “Then the angel that talkd with me went forth, and said unto me, Lift up now thine eyes, and see what is this that goeth forth. And I said, What is it? And he said, This is an ephah that goeth forth. HE said moreover, This is their resemblance through all the earth. And, behold, there was lifted up a talen of lead: and this is a woman that sitteth in the midst of the ephah. And he said, This is wickedness. And he cast it into the midst of the ephah; and he cast the weight of lead upon the mouth thereof. Then lifted I up mine eyes, and looked, and, behold, there came out two women, and the wind was in their wings; for they had wings like the wings of a stork: and they lifted up the ephah between the earth and the heaven. Then said I to the angel that talked with me, Whither do these bear the ephah? And he said unto me, TO build it an house in the land of Shinar: and it shall be established, and set there upon her own base” (Zechariah 5:5-11).

            ”These are the four spirits of the heavens, which go forth from standing before the LORD of all the earth. The black horses which are therein go forth into the north country; and the white go forth toward the south country. And the bay went forth, and sought to go that they might walk to and fro through the earth: and he said, Get you hence, walk to and fro through the earth. Then cried he upon me, and spake unto me, saying, Behold, these that go toward the north country have quieted my spirit in the north country” (Zechariah 6:1-8).

            “And the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Take of them of the captivity, even of Heldai, of Tobijah, and of Jedaiah, which are come from Babylon, and come thou the same day, and go into the house of Josiah the son of Zephaniah; Then take silver and gold, and make crowns, and set them upon the head of Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest; and speak unto him” (Zechariah 6:9-12).

            “Behold the man whose name is THE BRANCH; And he shall grow up out of his place, and he shall build the Temple of the LORD: Even he shall build the temple of the LORD; and he shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon his throne; and he shall be a priest upon his throne: and the counsel of peace shall be between them both” (Zechariah 6:12-13).

            “And the crowns shall be to Helem, and to Tobijah, and Jedaiah, and to Hen the son of Zephaniah, for a memorial in the temple of the LORD. And they that are far off shall come and build in the temple of the LORD, and ye shall know that the LORD of hosts hath sent me unto you. And this shall come to pass, if ye will diligently obey the voice of the LORD your God” (Zechariah 6:14-15).

            When you come to this particular portion of Scripture you will find the second of two prophetic books that were written during the time the exiles and captives of the children of Israel would return unto the land of their inheritance. If and as you read the prophetic books of Haggai and Zechariah you will find that both of these prophets began prophesying during the second year of the reign of Darius the Mede, and would be contemporaries of each other during days of restoration, return and rebuilding. Pause for a moment and consider that awesome reality—the reality that these two prophets were raised up of the LORD during times of the restoration of God’s people as they were returning unto the land of their ancestors and forefathers after spending seventy years in captivity. The houses of Israel and Judah had just spent almost three quarters of a century living as captives and exiles in the midst of counties and lands not their own, as well as in the midst of people’s who weren’t their own. For seventy years the houses of Israel and Judah were forced to live outside of the land of inheritance, promise and blessing, as well as being cut off from the house of the LORD. For seventy years the land of Israel would lie fallow and remain at rest while the people themselves were scattered among the countries within the earth. For seventy years the wall of Jerusalem was broken down and the gates burned with fire, as the city itself was a tremendous heap of ruin, rubble and ashes. What’s more, is the Temple of the LORD itself was destroyed and decimated with fire as Nebuzar-adan captain of the guard for the Babylonian army set the house of fire and might have watched as it went up in flames and burned to the ground. I can’t help but wonder what it was like for those last captives and exiles who left the land of Judah and the city of Jerusalem to see the city of David consumed with fire, watching as the smoke rose from the midst of the city and ascended to the heavens, and saw the wall of the city broken down and the gates thereof burned with fire. Imagine being those last captives and exiles who departed from the land of Judah and from the city of Jerusalem as they perhaps looked back and observed the destruction and devastation of the city unsure if they would ever see it again. What would go through your heart and mind in those moments as you were being carried away captive into a strange and foreign land you had never known and had never been to or seen before.

            If there is one thing that intrigues and captivates me about the prophetic books of Haggai and Zechariah is that they were both prophets of the LORD whom He raised up in the second year of Darius the Mede that they might strengthen the hands of the people for the work before them, and that they might proclaim the word of the LORD during times of restoration and rebuilding. I have to admit that one of the greatest truths surrounding these two prophetic voices is that the LORD raised them up during times of restoration and rebuilding—not only to encourage the house of Israel to continue in and carry out the work of the LORD in rebuilding the wall of the city, repairing the gates, and rebuilding the Temple of the LORD, but also as a powerful declaration that the LORD was in fact dwelling among them once more. The fact that the LORD brought the house of Israel out of the land of the Chaldeans and unto their own land was in and of itself a powerful declaration and statement that He was willing to be their God, and that they were once more going to be His people. It is important that we recognize and understand that their return to the land was about more than simply a return to the land, but it was also about a return unto the LORD, as well as a return unto the Law of the LORD. The return of the house of Israel to the land of their ancestors and forefathers was indeed a return to a physical and geographical location, however, it was also about their return to the LORD and to His Law which their fathers had violated, despised, rejected, and ignored. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this awesome and incredible reality, for to do so would be to miss out on the importance of the ministry of Ezra the priest who was raised up in the midst of those who were living in the land of promise, inheritance and blessing. It would be Ezra the priest who would be raised up to teach the congregation of Israel the commands, the statutes, the precepts, and all the LORD required in the midst of the Law which was given unto Moses. The return of the people unto the land would indeed allow them to once more live and dwell in the land which their fathers had been carried away captive from, and it was their living and dwelling in the midst of that land that would allow them to return to the LORD and return to His law. What’s more, is that the fact that the Temple would once more rise in the midst of the city of Jerusalem and be present in the midst of the land would be a powerful testimony—not only that worship was being restored unto the land of Israel, but also that the LORD was once more willing to live and dwell in the midst of His people.

            I absolutely love how the congregation of the children of Israel were brought forth out of the land of the Chaldeans and were able to make the long and arduous journey back to the land of Israel which was promised unto Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, which Moses saw from the top of the mountain, which Joshua the son of Nun led the children of Israel into, and which David the son of Jesse ruled and reigned as king. I can’t help but wonder what it was like for those who had spent such a considerable amount of time living as captives and exiles in the land of the Chaldeans as they began making their way back to the land of Israel, and back to the land of promise, inheritance and blessing. We dare not take this lightly, for through the prophet Jeremiah the LORD declared that seventy years had been appointed for the desolation of Jerusalem and for the captivity of the people of God, and once those seventy years were completed there would be a remnant of the house of Israel which would emerge from the land and return unto the land flowing with milk and honey. With that being said, however, it’s important that we recognize and understand that although the children of Israel would be returned unto restored in the midst of the land of Israel there would be no rest without rebuilding, and there would be no true and lasting peace without a work that needed to be done in the midst of the land. It would have been one thing for the children of Israel to return unto the land of their fathers and simply begin dwelling in the midst of it, however, that was simply not the case. The children of Israel and that remnant which were permitted to return unto the land would indeed and would in fact return to a great work which needed to be done in the midst of the land. A return to the land would be as much about rebuilding as it would be about restoration, and as much about work as it would be about rest. The children of Israel would indeed return unto the land of their fathers, however, they would return to ruin, rubble, dust and ashes, and would have to engage themselves in the tremendous task of not only clearing away and removing the rubble and ruins, but also begin rebuilding from that which had been destroyed by the enemy and adversary.

            We know from Scripture that during the days of Hezekiah king of Judah there were four prophetic voices which were raised up by the LORD—namely, Isaiah, Hosea, Amos and Micah. We also know from Scripture that during the days of Josiah king of Judah there were two prophetic voices raised up by the LORD—the prophetic voice of Jeremiah the son of Hilkiah, and Zephaniah the Elkoshite. This is actually quite interesting for more often than not during some of the most critical moments and critical times there have been prophetic voices that have been raised up by the LORD. Both Hezekiah and Josiah would be monumental and instrumental in averting, delaying and postponing the judgment and wrath of the LORD, and both would call the nation back into right relationship with the LORD. It would be during the days of Hezekiah king of Judah that he would not only resist the enemy and adversary through prayer and through trust and confidence in the LORD, but it would also be during the days of Hezekiah the enemy and adversary would be forced to flee from the heritage and inheritance of the LORD and His people. It would be during the days of Hezekiah when his fear of the LORD would not only cause the enemy to flee from the midst of the land, but would also deliver Jerusalem from the wrath and judgment of the LORD. When the enemy and adversary was not only outside the walls, but also at the gates it was a sign that judgment was at the door and the LORD was preparing to bring devastation and destruction upon the city and its inhabitants. It would be Hezekiah’s actions that would force the enemy to flee from the midst of the land, would avert the judgment of the LORD, and would even help bring a period of peace and rest in the midst of the land. A similar reality was manifested in the midst of the days of Josiah king of Judah as during the thirteenth year of his reign the prophet Jeremiah would begin prophesying the word of the LORD, and during the eighteenth year of his reign the book of the Law of the LORD would be found in the midst of the house of the LORD. The book of the Law of the LORD would not only be found in the midst of the Temple of the LORD, but it would also be brought forth out of the Temple and unto the place of the throne. How absolutely incredible and wonderful it is to think about and consider the fact that the book of the Law of the LORD would be found by the priest Hilkiah in the place of the glory of the LORD, and it would be brought from the place of the glory unto the place of the government. It would be there in the place of government the words of the book of the Law were read in the hearing of the king, and the king would rend his clothes in humility and fear before the LORD, and would immediately inquire of the LORD.

            If you read and study the narrative of the history of the prophets found within the Old Testament you will find that the prophet Hosea prophesied during the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah, while Amos would prophesy during the days of Uzziah the king of Judah two years before the earthquake would shake the land. Micah would prophesy during the days of Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah kings of Judah, while Isaiah would prophesy during the days of all four kings. It would be during the days of Uzziah that the voices of Amos, Isaiah and Hosea would proclaim the word of the LORD, while it would be during the days of Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah Micah, Hosea and Isaiah would prophesy the word of the LORD. When you consider the days of Josiah king of Judah you will find that the prophets Jeremiah and Zephaniah would prophesy the word of the LORD. We dare not and must not miss the incredible importance of this reality and truth—particularly and especially when you consider the fact that during days of rest and peace the LORD would have at least two prophetic voices that would proclaim the word of the LORD. It would be during the days of rest and peace found within the reign of Hezekiah that the LORD would have three voices proclaiming the word of the LORD, and it would be during the days of Josiah king of Judah—days that would also be characterized by rest and peace—that the LORD would have two prophetic voices raised up in the midst of the land. Now here we are with the people of Israel returning unto the land and engaging themselves in the process of rebuilding the wall of Jerusalem, repairing the gates of the city, and rebuilding the Temple of the LORD. REPAIRING THE PLACE OF PROTECTION AND REBUILDING THE PLACE OF WORSHIP! When the LORD would bring forth His people from the midst of the land of the Chaldeans He would bring them back—not to simply rest in the midst of the land and enjoy relative peace, safety and security, but also to engage themselves in the work. It was indeed true that the people would return unto the land of Israel, however, they would return with a tremendous work before them as they would need to address all the ruin and rubble in the midst of the land, as well engaging themselves in the process of rebuilding the Temple of the LORD. The house of Israel would return unto the land which was sworn on oath unto their ancestors and forefathers, and it would be there in the land they would engage themselves in the awesome and tremendous work of rebuilding the wall and the Temple, while also repairing the gates.

            I am convinced that in order to understand the words which are found in the prophetic book of Zechariah you must also understand the words which are found in the prophetic book of Haggai. As you read the words found in the prophetic book of Haggai you will find that the work of rebuilding the house of the LORD had grown stagnant and stale in the midst of the land as the hands of the children of Israel had in fact become idle. What’s  more, is the house of Israel was more concerned with rebuilding the houses within the land than they were rebuilding the Temple and sanctuary of the LORD. In fact, this is one of the greatest reasons the LORD raised up the prophetic voices of Haggai and Zechariah to not only accompany the work of rebuilding the Temple of the LORD, but also prophesying the word of the LORD in direct connection to the teaching of the Law of the LORD. If and as you study the Scripture you will find that the LORD raised up these two prophetic voices to be a secondary voice in the midst of the land, as the people who were dwelling in the midst of the land would not only be taught the Law of the LORD by Ezra the priest, but they would also hear the word of the LORD. TAUGHT THE LAW OF THE LORD AND HEARING THE WORD OF THE LORD! This is something that is actually reminiscent of the days of Josiah king of Judah, for it would be during the days of Josiah when the Law of the LORD and the word of the LORD would work in beautiful and harmonious unity with each other. It would be during the days of Josiah the king of Judah that the prophets Zephaniah and Jeremiah would proclaim the word of the LORD, and the book of the Law of the LORD would be read in the hearing of the king of Judah. What’s more, is it would be the king who would read in the hearing of all the people of Judah and Jerusalem the words of the book of the Law, as the king would call the people into covenant relationship and obedience before the LORD once more. It would be in the thirteenth year of the reign of Josiah that the prophet Jeremiah would begin proclaiming the word of the LORD, and it would be during the eighteenth year of the reign of Josiah the book of the Law of the LORD would be found. What’s more, is that there would be the additional prophetic voice of Zephaniah that would be present during the reign of Josiah and would proclaim the word of the LORD side by side with the book of the Law.

            THE LAW AND THE PROPHETS! THE LAW AND THE PROPHETS DURING REPENTANCE AND REST! THE LAW AND THE PROPHETS DURING REBUILDING AND REST! I sit here today and I can’t help but think about and be absolutely captivated with the fact that it would be during the days of Josiah the king of Judah that the Law and the prophets would be ministered side by side with each other, and it would be during the days of the restoration of the people of Israel to their land, and the rebuilding of the Temple that the Law and the prophets would once more work side by side. During the days of the restoration of the house of Israel unto the land which was sworn unto their fathers the Law of the LORD would go forth from the lips and mouth of Ezra the priest, while Haggai and Zechariah would proclaim the word of the LORD. What we must realize and recognize concerning the days of the restoration of the people of Israel is that it was during those days of restoration and rebuilding the Law of the LORD would be taught unto the people, and the word of the LORD would be proclaimed in their hearing. It would be the word of the LORD that would help strengthen the hands of the people during the process of rebuilding the Temple and sanctuary of the LORD, and it would be the Law of the LORD that would help bring the people into a place of renewed commitment and covenant with the LORD. The LORD of hosts would bring the people into the land He had allowed them to be carried away from seven decades earlier, and yet in the process of their returning the land they would need to be restored to the Law of the LORD, and would need the prophetic voices of those whom the LORD would raise up to help strengthen the work of rebuilding the Temple. If you read and study the prophetic books of these two prophets you will quickly discover that the LORD raised them to strengthen their hands for the work, as well as to help increase their courage and boldness in the midst of the land. In fact, if you read the Old Testament book of Ezra, as well as the book of Nehemiah you will find that there would be opposition—not only to rebuilding the Temple of the LORD, but also rebuilding the wall of the city of Jerusalem. The LORD would raise up two faithful servants in the midst of the days of restoration and rebuilding, for the LORD wanted to ensure the work would continue on and would not be diminished or destroyed. Consider if you will the words which are found in the prophetic book of Haggai in the first and opening chapter:

            “Then came the word of the LORD by Haggai the prophet, saying, Is it time for you, O ye, to dwel in your ceiled houses, and this house lie waste? Now therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts; Consider your ways. Ye have sown much, and bring in little; Ye eat, but ye have not enough; ye drink, but ye are not filled with drink; ye clothe you, but there is none warm; and he that earneth wages earneth wages to put it into a bag with holes. Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Consider your ways. Go up to the mountain, and bring wood, and build the house; and I will take pleasure in it, and I will be glorified, saith the LORD. Ye looked for much, and, lo, it came to little; and when ye brought it home, I did blow upon it. Why? Saith the LORD of hosts. Because of mine house that is waste, and ye run every man unto his own house. Therefore the heaven over you is stayed from dew, and the earth is stayed from her fruit. And I called for a dought upon the land, and upon the mountains, and upon the corn, and upon the new wine, and upon the oil, and upon that which the ground bringeth forth, and upon men, and upon cattle, and upon all the labour of the hands” (Haggai 1:2-10).

            If and as you read the words found in the final verses of the first chapter of this prophetic book of Haggai you will find that Zerubbabel the son of SHealtiel, and Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest, with all the remnant of the people, obeyed the voice of the LORD their God, and the words of Haggai the prophet, as the LORD their God had sent him, and the people feared before the LORD. In the final two verses of the opening chapter of the prophetic book of Haggai we find that the LORD stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and the spirit of Joshua son of JOsedech, the high priest, and the spirit of all the remnant of the people, and they came forth and did work in the house of the LORD of hosts. Moreover, Scripture also reveals how in the four and twentieth day of the sixth month the house of the LORD of hosts would begin to be built during the second year of Darius the Mede. I am absolutely astounded by the fact that it would be during the days of Darius the Mede that the work of rebuilding the house of the LORD would be rebuilt, and not only would the house of the LORD be rebuilt, but so also would the people themselves begin to hear the book of the Law of the LORD once more. If you turn and direct your attention to the fifth chapter of the Old Testament book of Ezra, as well as the sixth chapter of the same book you will find just how instrumental the prophetic voices and ministries of Haggai and Zechariah were during the days of the restoration of the house of Israel unto the land, as well as the rebuilding of the Temple of the LORD. Upon beginning to read from the first and opening verse of the fifth chapter you will find the following words which were written concerning those days: “Then the prophets, Haggai the prophet, and Zechariah the son of Iddo, prophesied unto the Jews that were in Judah and Jerusalem in the name of the God of Israel, even unto them. Then rose up Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Jeshua the son of Jozadak, and began to build the house of God which is at Jerusalem: and with them were the prophets of God helping them” (Ezra 5:1-2). It is with these words where we find the work of rebuilding the Temple and house of the LORD had grinded to a complete halt and standstill, and had remained stagnant and stale in the midst of the land of Israel until the second year of the reign of Darius king of Persia. It would be during this second year of Darius the king of Persia the LORD would raise up two of His holy servants and messengers to powerfully proclaim the word of the LORD among them in their heart that the work of the LORD might continue.

            Perhaps one of the greatest things we must recognize when considering the words found in the prophetic books of Haggai and Zechariah, it’s that the LORD raised them up because of tremendous opposition that would rise up against the remnant of the house of Israel that returned unto the land of Israel when they began to rebuild the Temple and sanctuary of the LORD. As you read the words found in the fourth you will find that there were adversaries and enemies which would rise up in the midst of the land to thwart and prevent the work of rebuilding the Temple and sanctuary of the LORD in the midst of the land. It was bad enough the people were living and dwelling in the midst of the land, but now the people were rebuilding the Temple once more just as they had previously done. When the children of Israel had dwelt in the midst of the land of Israel there was a Temple which stood among them in the midst of the land, and now here they were rebuilding a second Temple in the city of Jerusalem. There is not a doubt in my mind that the rebuilding of the Temple was offensive before and unto the enemies and adversaries of the children of Israel, as a rebuilt Temple would stand as a powerful monument and testament to the reality that the people had indeed and had in fact returned unto the land, and that they were in the land to remain. For the Temple to be rebuilt in the midst of the land it would powerfully suggest the tremendous fact that the house of Israel had returned unto the land and that they were rebuilding the Temple and themselves as they were before they were ever removed from the midst of the land.

            I am convinced that we cannot truly understand and appreciate just how integral and vital the prophetic voices and ministries of Haggai and Zechariah truly were without understanding the great and tremendous opposition the children of Israel faced and experienced in the midst of the land of Israel. You cannot read the fourth chapter of the book of Ezra without coming face to face with the opposition that would rise up against the house of Israel from their enemies and adversaries, as they would seek to do anything and everything they could do to prevent the Temple from being rebuilt. Even today in this generation imagine the firestorm, the animosity, the tension, the conflict, the war, and the opposition that would rise up against the people of Israel if they ever sought to rebuild the Temple of the LORD in the midst of the city of Jerusalem. OF course we know and understand that the Dome of the Rock presently stands and is situation on the Temple Mount, but imagine if the house of Israel attempted to rebuild their Temple on the same ground as the Dome of the Rock, and if they thought they could share that mount as the house of Ishmael and the house of Isaac would be there upon the mount. Stop for a moment and think about the fact that if the people of Israel thought of rebuilding the Jewish Temple during these days they would experience virtually the same opposition and affliction their ancestors experienced during the days of Ezra the priest, and Haggai and Zechariah the prophets of the LORD. Consider if you will the following words which are found in this Old Testament book of Ezra beginning to read with and from the first verse of the fourth chapter:

            “Now when the adversaries of Judah and Benjamin heard that the children of the captivity builded the Temple unto the LORD God of Israel; then they came to Zerubbabel, and to the chief of the fathers, and said unto them, Let us build with you: for we seek your God, as ye do; and we do sacrifice unto him since the days of Esar-haddon king of Assur, which brought us up hither. But Zerubbabel and Jeshua, and the rest of the chief of the fathers of Israel, said unto them, Ye have nothing to do with us to build and house unto our God; but we ourselves together will build unto the LORD God of Israel, as king Cyrus the king of Persia hath commanded us. Then the people of the land weakened the hands of the people of Judah, and troubled them in building, and hired counsellers against them, to frustrate their purpose, all the days of Cyrus king or Persia, even until the reign of Darius king of Persia. And in the reign or Ahasuerus, in the beginning of his reign, wrote they unto him an accusation against the inhabitants of Judah and Jerusalem. And in the days of Artaxerxes wrote Bishlam, Mithredath, Tabeel, and the rest of their companions, unto Artaxerxes king of Persia; and the writing of the letter was written in the Syrian tongue, and interpreted in the Syrian tongue. Rehum the chancellor and Shimshai the scribe wrote a letter against Jerusalem to Artaxerxes the king in this sort: Then wrote Rehum the chancellor, and Shimshai the scribe, and the rest of their companions; the Dinaites, the Apharsathchites, the Tarpelites, the Apharsites, the Archevites, the Babylonians, the Susanchites, the Dehavites, and the Elamites, and the rest of the nations whom the great and noble Asnappar brought over, and set in the cities of Samaria, and the rest that are on this side of the river, and at such a time. This is the copy of the letter that they sent unto him, even unto Artaxerxes the king; Thy servants the men on this side of the river, and at such a time. Be it known unto the king, that the Jews which came up from thee to us are come unto Jerusalem building the rebellious and the bad city, and have set up the walls thereof, and joined the foundations. Be it known now unto the king, that if this city be builded, and the walls set up again, then will they not pay toll, tribute, and custom, and so thou shalt endamge the revenue of the kings. Now because we have maintenance from the king’s palace, and it was not meet for us to see the king’s dishonour, therefore have we sent and certified the king; that search may be made in the book of the records of thy fathers: so shalt thou find in the book of the records, and know that this city is a rebellious city, and hurtful unto kings and provinces, and that they have moved sedition within the same of old time: for which  cause was this city destroyed. We critify the king that, if this city be builded again, and the walls thereof set up, by this means thou shalt have no portion on this side the river. Then sent the king an answer unto Rehum the chancellor, and to Shimshai the scribe, and to the rest of their companions that dwell in samaria, and unto the rest beyond the river, Peace, and at such a time. The letter which ye sent unto us hath been plainly read before me. And I commanded, and search hath been made, and it is found that this city of old time hath made insurrection against kings, and that rebellion and sedition have been made therein. There have been mighty kings also over Jerusalem, , which have ruled over all countries beyond the river; and toll, and tribute, and custom, was paid unto them. Give ye now commandment to cause these men to cease, and that this city be not builded, unto another commandment shall be given from me. Take heed now that ye fail not to do this: why should damage grow to the hurt of the kings? Now when the copy of king Artaxerxes’ letter was read before Rehum, and Shimshai the scribe, and their companions, they went up in haste to Jerusalem unto the Jews, and made them to cease by force and power. Then ceased the work of the house of God which is at Jerusalem. So it ceased unto the second year of the reign of Darius king of Persia” (Ezra 4:1-24).

            The words found in this passage of Scripture are such that warrant strong and powerful consideration, for the words contained therein point to the fact that when the enemies and adversaries of Judah and Benjamin not only saw that the work of rebuilding the Temple of the LORD was beginning, but that the Jews would not grant them any part in rebuilding the work—they both sought to weaken the work of their hands, as well as trouble them on all sides pertaining to the work. It would be the enemies and adversaries of the Jewish people that would also seek to bring accusation against them concerning the Temple of the LORD and the walls of the city, and would even bring that accusation before the king of Persia. It would be the king of Persia who would issue a decree that the work on the Temple immediately stop and cease until a new word and commandment would come from him. It would be upon receiving response from the king of Persia that the enemies and adversaries of the Jewish people would them come against them with force and power that they might cease the work of rebuilding the Temple and sanctuary in the midst of the land. It would be in the context of the work of rebuilding the Temple that Haggai and Zechariah would be raised up that they might strengthen the hands of the people of God that the work might continue. The opening verses of the fifth chapter point to and reveal how these prophetic voices were not only raised up to strengthen the hands of the people of God, but also that the work of rebuilding the Temple might continue. What’s more, is that Haggai and Zechariah would be raised up in the midst of the land that the word of the LORD might be spoken in the hearing of the people side by side together with the Law of Moses. I find it absolutely remarkable and incredible that it would be during the days of rebuilding the Temple of the LORD that the Law and the prophets would once more work side by side in harmony with each other, as the word of the LORD would strengthen their hands for the work and the Law of the LORD would teach the people the commands and statutes of the Law of Moses. It is truly something worth thinking about and considering that the LORD of hosts would raise up two prophetic voices in the midst of the land that the work of rebuilding the Temple and house of the LORD might move forward—even in the face of their enemies and adversaries. It’s worth noting and pointing out that in the sixth chapter—after the Jewish people began rebuilding the house of LORD, and after they had secured a decree from the king to continue rebuilding the house of the LORD that we find how the elders of the Jews builded, and how they prospered through the prophesying of Haggai the prophet and Zechariah the son of Iddo. Not only this, but they also builded, and finished it, according to the commandment of the God of Israel, and according to the commandment of Cyrus, and Darius, and Artaxerxes king of Persia.

            It is truly something worth noting and pointing out that the LORD would raise up the prophets Haggai and Zechariah during days and a time when the work of the LORD would be halted, as the people would be given to much fear and intimidation before their enemies and adversaries. The work of the LORD concerning His holy house would be brought to a complete halt and standstill, and as a direct result of that work ceasing the LORD would raise up two prophetic voices that they might encourage the Jewish people, as well as strengthen their hands that they might carry out the work. The Jewish people would indeed return to the land, and they would be restored in the midst of the land, however, it was absolutely necessary and imperative that the work of rebuilding the house of the LORD be carried out to completion. I find it to be something worth noting and pointing out that the LORD was not willing that the work of rebuilding the house and sanctuary of the LORD be left undone and unfinished, and would raise up two prophetic voices that they might wonderfully and powerfully encourage the Jewish people and help strengthen them in that work. While Ezra would teach the Jewish people the Law of the LORD, the prophets  Haggai and Zechariah would encourage the Jewish people in the work of rebuilding the Temple and sanctuary of the LORD. We dare not, we cannot and must not miss and lose sight of this awesome and powerful truth, for these prophets would be raised up together with the Law of the LORD, as once more the Law of the LORD would find its place in the midst of the Jewish people. It would be through Ezra the Law of the LORD would once more find its place in the midst of the people of Israel, and it would be through Zechariah and Haggai that the word of the LORD would minister side by side together with the Law of Moses that the people might not only hear the words which were found in the book of the Law of Moses, but also might hear the words which were spoken by the LORD. It’s interesting to note that during the days of Josiah king of Judah the book of the Law would be found in the Temple of the LORD and would be brought forth from the Temple—not only in the hearing of the king of Judah, but also in the hearing of the people of Israel. It would be the Law of the LORD that would be directly connected to the Temple of the LORD during the days of Josiah and those days leading up to captivity and exile, and it would once more be the Law of the LORD that would be directly connected to the house of the LORD, as Ezra the priest would teach the people the Law of the LORD in the midst of the land.

            I so love and appreciate the harmony and unity of the Law of Moses and the voice of the prophets during the days of Josiah king of Judah, and now here the Jews were in the land which they had been brought back into, and once more we find the Law of Moses and the voice of the prophets speaking directly unto the people. The law of Moses would be taught among them in their midst that they might be a people restored in covenant relationship with the LORD, and would be a people that walk in obedience and faithfulness before the LORD. It would be Ezra the priest of the LORD that would faithfully teach the words which were found in the book of the Law of Moses, and it would be Zechariah and Haggai who would faithfully proclaim the word of the LORD that the people might rise up once more and rebuild the Temple and sanctuary of the LORD. For too long the Jewish people had been intimidated and threatened by their enemies and adversaries, and the work of rebuilding the Temple would remain stagnant and stale in the land, and the LORD would raise up prophets in the midst of the land that the work of rebuilding the Temple might begin once more. There is a part of me that can’t help but wonder if the two witnesses which are mentioned in the prophetic book of Revelation might not and will not have a similar prophetic ministry and assignment as did Haggai and Zechariah—namely, in encouraging the Jewish people to rise up and rebuild the Temple of the LORD once more in the city of Jerusalem. If you turn and direct your attention to the prophetic book of the Revelation of Jesus the Christ you will find that there were two witnesses whom the LORD would raise up in the midst of the earth during the Last Days, and these witnesses would powerfully proclaim the word of the LORD, and would powerfully teach the Law of the LORD unto the people in the land. What’s more, is they would perform great signs and wonders in the midst of the earth during those days until they would be overcome and killed by the beast and the false prophet. Consider if you will the following words which are found in the New Testament prophetic book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ beginning with the first verse of the eleventh chapter:

            “And there was given me a reed like unto a rod: and the angel stood, saying, Rise, and measure the Temple of God, and the altar, and them that worship therein. But the court which is without the Temple leave out, and measure it not; for it is given unto the Gentiles: and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months. And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth. These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth. And if any man will hurt them, fire proceedeth out of their mouth, and devoureth their enemies: and if any man will hurt them, he must in this manner be killed. These have power to shut heaven, that it rain not in the days of their prophecy: and have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to smite the earth with all plagues, as often as they will. And when they have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them. And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spirituall is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our LORD was crucified. And they of the people and kindreds and tongues and nations shall see their dead bodies three days and an half, and shall not suffer their dead bodies to be put in graves. And they that dwell upon the earth shall rejoice over them, and make merry, and shall send gifts one to another; because these two prophets tormented them that dwelt on the earth. And after three days and an half the Spirit of life from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet; and great fear fell upon them which saw them. And they heard a great voice from heaven saying unto them, Come up hither. And they ascended up to heaven in a cloud; and their enemies beheld them. And the same hour was there a great earthquake, and the tenth part of the city fell, and in the earthquake were slain of men seven thousand: and the remnant were affrighted, and gave glory to the God of heaven. The second woe is past: and, behold, the third woe cometh quickly” (Revelation 11:1-14).

            There would be two prophetic voices in the days leading up to the judgment and wrath of the LORD upon Jerusalem and Judah, and there would be two prophetic voices and witnesses that would be present in the days of the restoration of the people of Israel in the midst of the land, and the prophetic book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ reveals how in the last days of judgment and wrath the LORD would once more raise up two prophetic witnesses who would have authority and power to shut up the heavens that it not rain, and to turn waters into blood as often as they wanted to. This is actually something quite astonishing when you take the time to think about and consider it, for it would be during the days of the restoration of the house of Israel that the LORD would raise up two prophetic voices to proclaim the word of the LORD that the work of rebuilding the Temple might be established in the midst of the earth. IN the eleventh chapter of the prophetic book of the Revelation we find an apparent link between the Temple and the altar and the two prophetic witnesses that would prophesy in the days of judgment and wrath which would be poured out upon the earth. It’s actually something worth pointing out that during the days of the restoration of the people of Israel into the land of their ancestors and forefathers there would be two prophetic voices that would proclaim the word of the LORD that the work of rebuilding the Temple might take place without hindrance and even in the fact of opposition and affliction. It’s worth noting that the prophetic voices of Haggai and Zechariah would begin during the second year of Darius the king of Persia, and there is not a doubt in my mind that those voices would be present in the midst of the land of Israel all throughout the process of rebuilding the Temple of the LORD which would be finished and completed in the sixth year of the reign of Darius. For four years the prophets Haggai and Zechariah would proclaim the word of the LORD and would be wonderfully and powerfully used by the LORD to strengthen the hands and hearts of the people of God that they might faithfully continue and carry out the work without fear and without tredpidation. What a truly wonderful and powerful concept it is to think about these two prophetic voices and witnesses that would be present in the midst of the land of Israel that the work might continue and be carried out by the people—in spite of the opposition of their enemies and adversaries that would still be present in the land until the decree of the king that would order the rebuilding of the Temple of the LORD. Consider if you will the words which are found in the opening verses of the second chapter of this prophetic book beginning to read with the first verse:

            “IN the seventh month, in the one and twentieth day of the month, came the word of the LORD by the prophet Haggai, saying, Speak now to Zerubabbel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Josedech the high priest, and to the residue of the people, saying, Who is left among you that saw this house in her first glory? And how do ye see it now? IS it not in your eyes in comparison of it as nothing? Yet now be strong, O Zerubbabel, saith the LORD; and be strong, O Joshua, son of Josedech, the high priest; and be strong, all ye people of the land, saith the LORD, and work: For I am with you, saith the LORD of hosts: according to the word that I covenanted with you when ye came out of Egypt, so my spirit remaineth among you: fear ye not. For thus saith the LORD of hosts; Yet once, it is a little while, and I will shake the heavens, and the earth, and the sea, and the dry land; and I will shake all nations, and the desire of all nations shall come: and I will fill this house with glory, saith the LORD of hosts. The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, saith the LORD of hosts. The glory of this latter house shall be greater than of the former, saith the LORD of hosts: and in this place will I give peace, saith the LORD of hosts” (Haggai 2:1-9).

            As I prepare to bring this writing to a close I find it absolutely necessary to point out the awesome reality that the work of rebuilding the house of the LORD had come to a head and a standstill, and it was in the face of the intimidation of the enemy, and the stalled work of rebuilding the house of the LORD that the LORD would raise up these prophetic voices that they might instill confidence, courage, boldness and trust within the hearts of the people. The words which these prophets would speak would directly confront the opposition that would come as a result of the Jewish people rebuilding the Temple of the LORD, and how the rebuilding of the Temple would thrust their enemies and adversaries into complete and utter chaos, as they did not want to see the Temple rebuilt in the midst of the land. I still cannot help but get the strong sense that what we see played out during the days and times of Ezra the priest, as well as during the days of Haggai and Zechariah can and will be played out in the last days as there will indeed and will in fact be a third Jewish Temple that would be rebuilt in the midst of the land of Israel and upon the Temple Mount once more. These prophetic voices would not only seek to strengthen the hands and hearts of the people of Israel which returned to the land, but they would also seek to speak directly to Zerubbabel the governor of Judah, as well as Joshua the high priest. These prophets would proclaim the word of the LORD that the people—from the governor, to the priest, to the people themselves would continue the process of rebuilding the Temple and sanctuary of the LORD in the midst of the land, and that they would not allow their enemies and adversaries to instill fear and doubt within their hearts and minds. Oh that we would read the words found in these prophetic books and would understand just how incredibly powerful and important the words and voices of these prophets were as the people of God would continue on the work of rebuilding the Temple of the LORD in the midst of the land, and would once more be a people dwelling in the land with the Temple of the LORD present among them in their midst, thus signifying God would dwell in the midst of His people, and the people would still be His people in the midst of the land.

            If you follow the chronology of the kings of Persia you will find that the first king of Persia was indeed Cyrus the Great whom the prophet Isaiah prophesied concerning in the forty-fifth chapter of the prophetic book which bears his name. It was this Cyrus who is not only mentioned in the final chapter of the Old Testament book of 2 Chronicles, the opening chapter of the prophetic book of Ezra, and the opening chapter of the prophetic book of Daniel. It is within each of these passages of Scripture where we not only discover and confirm that it was Cyrus who issued the decree that the Jewish people return unto their own native land, but also the decree that the Temple of the most High God would be rebuilt in the midst of Jerusalem once more. Consider if you will the following words which are found in each of these passages of Scripture beginning to read with and from the twenty-second verse of the thirty-sixth chapter of the book of Second Chronicles:

            “Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the LORD spoken by the mouth of Jeremiah might be accomplished, the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and put it also into writing, saying, Thus saith Cyrus king of Persia, All the kingdoms of the earth hath the LORD God of heaven given me; and he hath charged me to build him an house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Who is there among you of all his people? The LORD his God be with him, and let him go up” (2 Chronicles 36:22-23).

            “Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and put it also in writing, saying, Thus saith Cyrus king of Persia, The LORD God of heaven hath given me all the kingdoms of the earth; he hath charged me to build him an house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Who is there among you of all his people? His God be with him, an let him go up to Jerusalem, which is in Judah, and build the house of the LORD God of Israel, (he is the God,) which is in Jerusalem. And whosoever remaineth in any place where he sojourneth, let the men of his place help him with silver, and with gold, and with goods, and with beasts, beside the freewill offering for the house of God that is in Jerusalem” (Ezra 1:1-4).

            “As for these four children, God gave them knowledge and skill in all learning and wisdom: and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams. Now at the end of the days that the king had said he should bring them in, then the prince of the eunuchs brought them in before Nebuchadnezzar. And the king communed with them; and among them all was found none like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah: therefore stood they before the king. And in all matters of wisdom and understanding, that the king inquired of them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers that were in all his realm. And Daniel continued even unto the first year of king Cyrus” (Daniel 1:17-21).

It would be during the first year of the reign of Cyrus king of Persia that the decree and edict would go forth permitting the Jewish people to return unto their land, and to do so that they might rebuild the Temple of the LORD their God. What’s incredibly interesting is when you consider the different kings who would rule and reign over the Persian Empire—beginning with Cyrus the Great (550-530 BC), and then being followed by Cambyses II (530-522 BC), then Bardiya (522 BC), then Darius 1 The Great (485-465 BC), then Xerxes 1 (485-465 BC), Artaxerxes 1 (465-424 BC), and then Darius II (424-404 BC). Following the chronological path of all these kings you get the sense that the construction and rebuilding of the Temple was such a tremendous project that initially and originally had the full support of the throne of Persia and the king who sat upon that throne, yet would eventually get sidetracked and come to a virtual standstill and halt. It was for this reason the LORD raised up the prophets Haggai and Zechariah that they might strengthen the hands of the people—despite the fact that their enemies and adversaries sought to weaken their hands, and sought to prevent the work from taking place. In all reality there were two distinct threats to the rebuilding of the Jewish Temple, which were the agenda of the Jewish people who had returned to the land, as well as the enemies and adversaries of the Jews who sought to weaken their hands and intimidate them. It would be their enemies and adversaries that eventually bring accusation against them before the king of Persia, and bring the work to a grinding halt with force and power. It would be in the context of the enemies and adversaries of the Jewish people—with the support of a new king who sat upon the throne of Persia—that the work of rebuilding the Temple would be halted and would not go forth. For this reason and for such a time as this the LORD raised up the prophets Haggai and Zechariah that they might speak to a generation and people that had been intimidated and threatened by their enemies and adversaries concerning the work of rebuilding the Temple of the LORD. It is quite clear and obvious that the work of rebuilding the Temple would suffer two distinct threats—one which was internal, and one which was external—and it would be the prophets of the LORD who would be raised up during those days that the people might rise up and complete the work, the task and the assignment which was before them.

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