About Jesus Steve Sweetman
This Chapter - Chapter 5
Letter To Darius (ch. 5:1 - 17)
In verse 1 we see the
names of two prophets. They
are Haggai and Zechariah. These
two prophets were raised up by God to encourage the Jews to return to
their building project. Eighteen
years have now passed since they stopped building the temple.
You learn from Haggai
that the Jews were living in nice houses themselves but the house for
God was in shambles.
God raises up prophets,
men and women, at the right time, when His people need encouragement and
correction. Prophets set
direction for God’s people. They
speak what God wants his people to know.
It doesn’t matter if it is Old Testament times or New Testament
times, God will have certain people who speak His word to.
In this case God’s word was simple.
He told them to stop thinking of their own prosperity and start
thinking in terms of God again and building His temple.
Verse 1 ends with the
word “who is over them”. It
was God who was over the Jews, even though they lived under the Persian
kings. At this point in
Jewish history, the Jews had to make a choice – either obey God or
obey the king. The prophets
pointed out the need to obey God.
Verse 2 tells us that
Haggai and Zechariah succeeded in their word to the Jews.
The building project began once again.
It is also important to note that these two prophets didn’t
only prophesy, they actually helped in the building process. They got
their hands dirty and worked side by side with the ordinary men in the
building project. God’s messengers should always be servants, as these
two men were.
Once again we see
Zerubbabel mentioned. He is
the civil governor for the Jews. He
was a Jew. You also read the
name Jeshua. As earlier
stated, he is the chief of the priests.
At this point in Jewish history the civil and religious leaders
In verse 3 we see
Tattenai mentioned who was governor of Trans-Euphrates.
Other translations use the term “the land beyond the river”,
meaning, the land west of the Euphrates
tells us that Tattenai wanted the names of those who were working
on the building. This might be were the rubber meets the road for some.
To work anonymously on the temple is one thing, but to have your
names given to the civil authority is another thing altogether.
This has been the case with many persecuted Christians over the
years. We may be willing to
serve Jesus anonymously, but are we willing to serve Him out in the
public with our names known to all?
In verse 5 Ezra states
that “the eyes of God were on the Jewish elders”.
How comforting this must have been for these men.
It is clear, that when we are doing God’s will, His eyes are
upon us. It does not mean
that everything will go easy for us.
It means that God is with us in all the uneasy times, helping us
to get through.
We see King Darius
mentioned here in verse 5. In
order not to get confused, there were more than one Darius the king.
This Darius appears to me to be Darius the second who ruled Persia
from 423 to 404 B. C..
Verses 6 and 7 introduces
us to a letter that Tattenai, governor
of Trans-Euphrates, and his associates sent to king Darius.
The governor wanted the building project of the Jews to stop
immediately, and when it didn’t he sent Darius the letter the Ezra
records for us.
Verse 8 is the
introduction to the letter. The
letter states that Tattenai visited “the district of Judah”.
Also in verse 8 we note
the diligence of the Jews in the building process.
There working harder and faster than ever.
The message of Haggai and Zechariah have truly encouraged these
men to work. This should be the end result of any prophetic message, but
as we know, this wasn’t always the case in Israel
of old, and it’s not the case in the church today.
In verses 9 and 10
Tattenai mentions to the king that he had asked the Jews who gave them
the authority to build the temple, and what are the names of those doing
the work. The letter states
clearly the reason for the collection of these names.
It was so the king himself would know who was building the
We have to realize that
during this period of time, as with much of Old Testament times, there
were revolts popping up all over the place that Darius and other kings
had to deal with. The
building of the temple and the city of
In verse 11 Tattenai
repeats what the leaders of Israel
told him concerning who gave them the authority to build the temple.
The simple answer could have been just one word – “Cyrus”.
Cyrus did give them the authority to build, but there’s more to
the story than that. Beyond
Cyrus, God gave them the authority to build and the Jewish leaders
wanted the civil authority to know this.
Their answer was in fact a testimony to their God, which is
important for us today. Christians,
in times of pressure from the state and society, must often times give
an explanation for their actions. Many
times this explanation is in a court of law.
The explanation must include Jesus and all that He means to us or
else our explanation is not complete, and does not give due credit to
So in response to “who
gave you the authority to build”,
the Jews answer with, “we serve the God of heaven”.
The way in which they state this is to suggest that there is no
other God than the God they serve. All
other cultures around the Jews are polytheistic.
The have multiple gods. The
Jews have one God who is supreme over all things. The Jews could have
easily said, “Cyrus” gave us the authority” as I’ve said above,
but they didn’t. They
basically said, “the one and only God of heaven gave us this
authority”, which would not have gone over very well because it
suggests that there is someone else in authority over the king.
This is what Tattenai wanted Darius to know.
These Jews felt the need to serve their God instead of Darius.
Also in verse 11 we note that the Jews told Tattenai that the temple building project is actually a “rebuilding project”. They were rebuilding the temple that one of their own great kings built, back in the days when Israel
themselves was a great nation. This
king was Solomon.
Verse 12 states the fact
that God became angry with his people and as a result allowed the
Babylonians to come in and
Verse 13 states what
Tattenai probably wants to hear. The
preceding did not fully answer the question in terms that he wanted.
Verse 13 tells us that it was actually Cyrus who gave the civil
authority to the Jews to return to rebuild the temple and their city.
The Jews didn’t just leave their defense with God being the one
who gave them the authority. They
gave their answer in a prioritized way.
First it was God, then it was Cyrus. This should be the same with
us. If we have any civil
rights in our defense, once we’ve stated our defense from the
Christian perspective, we then can state our defense from any civil
rights that we may have.
Verses 14 to 16 state the
facts that how Nebuchadnezzar took
much of the contents from the original temple and put them in his own
Verse 17 closes this
chapter and this letter. Tattenai
encourages the king to look back in the Persian records to see if King
Cyrus actually did give the authority to the Jews to build the temple
and their city. Tattenai
then says that once this information is gathered, he’d like to know
the truth to this matter.