If I were to ask you who Ezra was, I’m sure you would be familiar with his name or be able to identify that there’s a book in the Bible named after him. But if I were to ask you who Zerubbabel is could you answer with the same familiarity?
I’ve started reading the book of Ezra and a key character in this book is Zerubbabel who led the first cohort of Jewish exiles ( tribes of Judah and Benjamin) back to Israel from Babylon.
To give context, King Cyrus of Persia conquered Babylon and had issued a decree to allow all Jews who are willing, to go back to Israel to rebuild the temple of the Lord in Jerusalem. King Cyrus, provided the Jews with all the gold and articles that were formerly in the previous temple of the Lord back to the Israelites and financed the projects with gold and silver from surrounding Babylon nations.
Zerubbabel, was made governor of the first wave of Jews that resettled in Israel. He led the building of the altar of the Lord and the completion of the temple. However, amidst the construction of the temple opposition arose from surrounding nations.
Attempts to frustrate the rebuild of the Temple of God
- The surrounding nations pretended to serve the Lord so they could infiltrate the Jews construction of the temple to hinder their plans. Zerubbabel rightfully rejected their ploy.
- The surrounding nations sent counsellors constantly to work against the Jews and frustrate their plans during the entire reign of Cyrus king of Persia down to the reign of Darius king of Persia.
- The Assyrian king even sent a letter to King Artaxerxes, (Persia incumbent king at the time) telling him that the Jews have a history of being rebellious and any plans to rebuild will be a detriment. Unfortunately, King Artaxerxes was persuaded and the surrounding nations compelled the Jews to stop building.
At this Zerubbabel grew discouraged, lose hope and work indeed on the temple of the Lord ground to a halt. But despite the apparent obstacles, God was still sending prophets: Haggai and Zechariah encouraging Zerubbabel and the Jews to not be discouraged, their work was not yet done.
And that is my message to all of you today! That despite all the seemingly apparent obstacles and setbacks that will come your way to not lose hope or grow discouraged.
Zechariah spoke the truth when he said in Zechariah 4:6
So he said to me, “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord Almighty”.Zechariah 4:6
Sometimes God’s ownership of a project can only be recognised after our best efforts have failed. It’s in the most toughest situations, and when everything is out of your control that only God could make a way out of no way.
We must not let circumstances or lack of encouragement deter us from doing the tasks God has given to us. Push through the opposition. Know that you are not alone and that sometimes it may not be through might nor by power. But by His Spirit!
Thanks for reading!