January 15

From Bad to Worse to Great

Ezra 5:17 Now therefore, if it seems good to the king, let a search be made in the king’s treasure house, which is there in Babylon, whether it is so that a decree was issued by King Cyrus to build this house of God at Jerusalem, and let the king send us his pleasure concerning this matter.

After the Babylonian captivity was over, the Jews were allowed to return home, and they soon began work on rebuilding the Temple. The Samaritans and others began to oppose that, and in response, the local governor composed a letter to the king of Babylon, asking for a royal verification whether the work was legitimate or not. Years earlier in the book of Ezra, a note from the king had stopped the rebuilding efforts, so there was a fearful precedent for God’s people. Now renewed opposition threatened to stop the whole process, as it had before.

The Jews had been given authority to leave Babylon upon the accession of Cyrus, and had been allowed to rebuild the Temple. But that was a long time before, and time, forgetfulness, and the continual accusations against the Jews of being independent rabble-rousers had all conspired to make them look rebellious and their efforts unauthorized. The Babylonian governor asked that “a search be made in the king’s treasure house, which is there in Babylon, whether it is so that a decree was issued by King Cyrus to build this house of God at Jerusalem, and let the king send us his pleasure concerning this matter” (see above).

This didn’t look good. The local governor had gotten involved, the Samaritans and others were always on their back, and who could tell if a document well over 100 years old could be found when Cyrus was so long gone? If history were to be their guide, they were going to be told to stop the work once more.

There wasn’t anything found in the capital. But in a city 300 miles away, in another province, a copy of the letter was found. And not only was the original decree affirmed, it was reinforced by an accompanying decree that told the opposition to keep their hands off, and released funds from the royal coffers to support the work (plus issued some vivid threats to any who stood in the way!)

What had looked like the end turned out to not be just OK after all, but to be better than before. How about you and your situation? Has your own history made you afraid of what’s to come? Has opposition gotten worse in your life, with the “possibility” of even worse things coming? Remember what the Lord did for His people here. Were it not for the opposition against them, the request for the search for the original decree would never have been made, and the new blessings would never have been released. Their identity as God’s people was reestablished, and the work of their hands was greatly blessed.

Prayer: Father, help me remember what You did here when I only see opposition and dark skies. Thank You that You can turn opposition into blessing. Help me to stand strong in faith and watch for Your salvation.

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