The Second Temple


The Second Temple


The Second Temple

Ezra 5-6

Main Idea: God causes those who keep His Word to prosper in whatever they do.

  1. Opposition in the Time of Darius (5:1-5)
  2. A Letter from the Time of Darius (5:6-17)
  3. The Decrees of Cyrus and Darius (6:1-12)
  4. The Second Temple and the Passover (6:13-22)


Sebastian was an old man. He didn’t know it at the time, but he would die in just three years. He had been summoned by the king, Frederick the Great, of whom he was no fan. He spent two days and a night “being jostled about in a coach to meet the bitter enemy of his own royal patron, the elector of Saxony.” Upon arrival, rather than being allowed to rest, Johann Sebastian Bach was brought directly before Frederick the Great. James R. Gaines writes, “Frederick represented all that was new and fashionable, while Bach’s music had come to stand for everything ancient and outmoded” (Evening in the Palace of Reason, 5). Gaines continues, “Bach was a devout Lutheran householder who had had twenty children.... Frederick, a bisexual misanthrope in a childless marriage, was a lapsed Calvinist whose reputation for religious tolerance arose from the fact that he held all religions equally in contempt. Bach wrote and spoke German. Frederick boasted that he ‘had never read a German book’” (ibid., 5-6).

Frederick appears to have summoned Bach because he wanted to mock him. Gaines writes, “Frederick gave Bach an impossibly long and complex musical figure and asked the old master to make a three-part fugue of it.... So difficult was the figure Bach was given that ... the Royal Theme, as it has come to be known, was constructed to be as resistant to counterpoint as possible. Still, Bach managed, with almost unimaginable ingenuity, to do it, even alluding to the king’s taste by setting off his intricate counterpoint with a few gallant flourishes” (ibid., 7, 9).

44Timothy Smith explains, “To moderns, the amusement, veiled deep within the connotations of Frederick’s theme, is difficult to apprehend. But to Bach the point was apparent: Something precious to him was the subject of satire. Frederick was mocking the core of Sebastian’s musical and theological universe” (“Review of Evening in the Palace of Reason by James R. Gaines”).


How do you respond when everything you stand for—the gospel, the truth of the Scriptures, Christian morality, all of it—is challenged, mocked, opposed, and scorned? We need encouragement to stand through such challenges as our world changes. Gaines writes that “Frederick the Great and Johann Sebastian Bach met at the tipping point between ancient and modern culture” (Evening in the Palace of Reason, 8). We may or may not be at a cultural tipping point, but I think we can expect to be treated much as Johann Sebastian Bach was. He was a man of whom the world was not worthy. Though we may not have his musical genius, Christians are those who are faithful to the true and living God, who believe and tell the truth about the world as it really is, and who have the only saving gospel available. And yet the world treats Christians as objects of scorn and mockery.


In Ezra 1 a new exodus is narrated, followed by the numbering of the people and their march on the land in Ezra 2. The altar is rebuilt and the Festival of Booths celebrated in Ezra 3, commemorating God’s preservation of the people through the wilderness.

Ezra 4 summarizes opposition from the outside, bracketing opposition from Ezra’s own day with notices of opposition from the time of Darius when the first generation of returnees rebuilt the temple. Ezra 5-6 tell us more about that first generation of returnees who rebuilt the temple. They did so in obedience to the prophets Haggai and Zechariah. There are many similarities between chapters 5-6 and chapter 4, which dealt with opposition during the time of Ezra. Ezra presents the opposition from his own day in chapter 4, then the success of a previous generation in chapters 5-6. The previous generation is twice described as prospering (or succeeding, 5:8; 6:14), and just as Psalm 1:1-3 teaches, they are prospering because they are heeding God’s 45Word. Ezra is teaching that God will cause those who keep His Word to prosper in whatever they do.


Ezra 5-6 can be broken down into four parts. The events of these two chapters took place between 520 and 516 bc, as the second temple was being rebuilt. The first five verses of Ezra 5 recount opposition encountered by those rebuilding the temple, and then the rest of the chapter presents a letter the enemies of the rebuilders wrote to Darius. Ezra 6:1-12relates how Darius found the decree of Cyrus and issued a decree of his own, and then in 6:13-22 we read of how the people completed the rebuilding of the temple and celebrated the Passover.

Opposition In The Time Of Darius

Ezra 5:1-5

The books of Haggai and Zechariah encourage the returnees to rebuild the temple, and we also read about the efforts of these two prophets in Ezra 5:1: “the prophets Haggai and Zechariah son of Iddo prophesied to the Jews who were in Judah and Jerusalem, in the name of the God of Israel who was over them.” Haggai and Zechariah were active at the time noted at the end of Ezra 4, “the second year of the reign of King Darius of Persia.” We refer to that year as 520 bc. Ezra was active around 450 bc. Ezra knows of the ministry of these two men, and he calls them prophets. And when Ezra, who is himself inspired by the Holy Spirit, tells us that these prophets prophesied “in the name of the God of Israel who was over them,” we see that God has inspired Haggai and Zechariah to encourage the returnees to rebuild the temple. This means that God authorized the second temple (Solomon’s being the first).

We might be tempted to think that what happened with this community returning from exile isn’t all that significant. The important storyline goes from Adam to exile, and then there’s some inconsequential stuff that happened after the exile, then the important stuff picks back up with Jesus in the New Testament. That’s not Ezra’s view, not Nehemiah’s view, and it’s not Haggai’s, Zechariah’s, and Malachi’s view either. Since the Holy Spirit inspired them, we should adopt their view. Don’t discount the significance of these books of the Bible and the events they recount.

46Notice the obedience to the prophetic word in Ezra 5:2: “Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel and Jeshua son of Jozadak began to rebuild God’s house in Jerusalem. The prophets of God were with them, helping them.” Zerubbabel and Jeshua hear the prophetic word, and in spite of the risk to their comfort and safety, they obey it.

Do you respond to the prophetic word with prompt obedience? Notice how it says here that the prophets were “with them, helping them.” There are plenty of places in the Old Testament where the prophets are denouncing the leadership of Israel. But when the leaders repent of their lazy self-indulgence, trust God’s word through the prophets, and obey what God commands, they have the support of the prophets. Do you want the certain and sure word of God denouncing and condemning you, or do you want it with you, supporting you? Disregard it and the Bible will condemn you. Repent, believe, and obey, and the Bible will be on your side.

It takes courage to obey the Bible. There will always be those who attempt to bully Bible-believing people into political correctness. We see an ancient example of this in verses 3-4:

At that time Tattenai the governor of the region west of the Euphrates River, Shethar-bozenai, and their colleagues came to the Jews and asked, “Who gave you the order to rebuild this temple and finish this structure?” They also asked them, “What are the names of the workers who are constructing this building?”

Ezra now shows us in more detail what he had summarized in 4:4-5. The two questions asked here seem designed to intimidate and threaten: who authorized you to do this, and what are your names? These worldly officials can attempt to intimidate God’s people, but Almighty God, the Creator of the universe, who by the word of His power sustains all that is, has stirred the spirit of Cyrus for the rebuilding of the temple (1:1-2)and He has inspired His prophets to speak in His name (5:1) so that Zerubbabel and Jeshua will lead the people to do it. All that these officials can do is intimidate. They have nothing that compares to the backing the returnees have.

This is relevant for us today, isn’t it? We might be tempted to think that the important things are recorded in the Bible, and what is happening now doesn’t matter so much as what will happen when Jesus returns. He is indeed the King whose return is the moment we’re all waiting for, but His glory is at stake no less now than it will be then. What 47is happening now in our day matters for God’s glory. It matters for the souls who will either hear and believe or rebel and face judgment. And, while the world may seem powerful, the world has not been authorized by God to carry forward His program. The prophetic and apostolic word does not inform and authorize the world. And the King of kings has not announced to the world that He will be with them always. That backing belongs to us as the church, of which Christ is the head. That authorization is ours. That commission from the true King is ours.

Ezra 5:5 tells us that God protected the returnees: “But God was watching over the Jewish elders. These men wouldn’t stop them until a report was sent to Darius, so that they could receive written instructions about this matter.” This is the way that God acts on behalf of His people. For two thousand years now the church has faced opposition and persecution, but the gates of hell have not prevailed against the church. God will accomplish His purposes. God causes those who keep His Word to prosper in whatever they do.

A Letter From The Time Of Darius

Ezra 5:6-17

As we approach this letter, let’s think about how it compares with the letter in chapter 4. Ezra 4 began with the same opposition (vv. 1-5) that we’re now seeing in chapter 5 from around 539 bc to the time of Darius in 520 bc. The letter in Ezra 4:9-16, though, was from the time of Artaxerxes, who reigned from 464 to 423 bc. That letter is from the time of Ezra, who returned to Jerusalem in 458 bc, and what that letter accomplished (4:23) probably resulted in the return of Nehemiah in 445 bc. This letter in Ezra 5 is introduced with exactly the same words as the one in Ezra 4:

This is the text of the letter (4:11/5:6)

The two letters begin their address to the kings with exactly the same words:

Let it be known to the king (4:13/5:8)

Both letters repeatedly refer to projects the Jews are “finishing” and “rebuilding,” but in the case of Ezra 4 it is the city being rebuilt and the walls being finished (4:12-13, 16, 21). In Ezra 5, by contrast, constant reference is made to the house of God, the temple, being rebuilt 48and finished (5:3-4, 8-9, 11, 15-17). Ezra had included the response of Artaxerxes in chapter 4, where Artaxerxes made reference to “powerful kings” who had ruled Jerusalem (4:20), and in the letter in chapter 5 reference is made to “a great king of Israel” who built the temple, Solomon (5:11).

Ezra has arranged his material so that the earlier letter is read after the later letter. In this way, the crisis that Ezra and his contemporaries face is presented as paralleling the crisis faced by the first generation of returnees. Ezra sets these two letters, which have so much in common, side by side, the later one first, in order to say to his generation, struggling to rebuild city and wall, that God will make them victorious, just as He caused the effort to rebuild the temple to succeed.

On the basis of what Ezra presents here, I say to you that God will cause the efforts to build the new temple of the Holy Spirit, the church, to succeed. The opposition to the church will not succeed. God will build His church.

Do you want to be a part of a movement that will toil through difficulty across the ages and come out victorious in the end? Do you want to be part of a movement that appears to be small and insignificant but will certainly triumph? If so, you should want to be part of the church!

Encouraged by the prophets (5:1-2), the returnees are building. In verse 8 the opponents of the work note in their letter, “And this work goes on diligently, being accomplished and prospering in their hands” (my trans.). God makes the work of those who love the Bible to prosper (the same root is used here, though in Aramaic, that appears in Ps 1:3 and Josh 1:8).

Look at the biblical-theological summary of the message of the prophets and 1 and 2 Kings in Ezra 5:11-12:

We are the servants of the God of heaven and earth and are rebuilding the temple that was built many years ago, which a great king of Israel built and finished. But since our fathers angered the God of heaven, He handed them over to King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, the Chaldean, who destroyed this temple and deported the people to Babylon.

Ezra 1:3 presents Cyrus referring to “the God who is in Jerusalem,” which may mean that the Persian kings thought that Yahweh merely had provincial authority over Jerusalem. That’s not what the returnees think. They identify their God as “the God of heaven and earth.” They49 know that though they are small, God has chosen them to be His servants, and they know that the destruction of the temple and the exile from the land are the result of Yahweh keeping His word to judge His people for breaking the covenant. It was not because the Assyrian and Babylonian gods prevailed over Yahweh.

There are gods at work in our culture. These gods are offering financial security, physical pleasure, psychological relief, and intellectual satisfaction. When we sin, we implicitly declare that the gods of money, sex, influence, and learning offer something better than Yahweh. When we are tempted, we must call on the Lord to satisfy us with Himself. He will provide for us. He will give us pleasure and joy. He will be our refuge. He will answer all our questions. We need the Lord.

In Ezra 5:13-16 the returnees to the land summarize the decree of Cyrus and their ongoing labor on the temple (see 1:1-4:5). In response, Tattenai, Shethar-bozenai, and their associates ask Darius to search the archives to verify what the returnees have claimed about Cyrus.

Here the opponents to God’s program in the world want to verify the claims made by those seeking to advance God’s program in the world. God’s Word calls us to tell the truth, not to bear false witness. It’s a good thing the returnees have told the truth, isn’t it? God causes those who keep His Word to prosper in whatever they do. If you have trouble telling the truth, let me encourage you to contemplate the reality that your claims will be tested. If you tell lies, if you are a fabulist, you will be found out.

The Decrees Of Cyrus And Darius

Ezra 6:1-12

Ezra 6:1-6 details how the search was made and the scroll was found. The record is related in verses 3-5, and it is more detailed than the decree that Ezra presented in 1:2-4. This may be because 1:2-4 was a public proclamation and 6:3-5 was a royal record. At any rate, 6:4 adds the significant detail, “The cost is to be paid from the royal treasury.” In view of both the opposition to the rebuilding and the decree that Darius issues in response to this in verses 7-12, it does not appear that the rebuilding effort had previously been financed by the royal treasury. Stop and consider what brought that part of Cyrus’s orders to light: opposition! The opponents to the rebuilding of the temple succeeded only in getting the work financed.

50The Bible teaches that God turns Satan’s efforts against God’s people into blessings for them. Satan succeeds in having Jesus the Messiah crucified, fulfilling God’s plan to save those who believe. Satan sends a messenger to afflict the apostle Paul, accomplishing God’s purpose of keeping Paul from becoming conceited (2 Cor 12:7). God will do this in your life, too. There is no setback, no failure, no tragedy, no disappointment, and no defeat that God can’t use to bless you.

Look at that detail in Ezra 6:5 about the temple vessels being restored “where they belong.” This indicates that Cyrus intended the temple to be rebuilt and to resume its function, with the worship being conducted the right way. This supports the returnees in their refusal to compromise God’s instructions by allowing the peoples of the land to influence the rebuilding project.

The blessings that God brings out of the letter of opposition in chapter 5 are now seen in the response of Darius in 6:6-12. Darius first addressed those who were opposing the rebuilding of the temple: “Therefore, you must stay away from that place, Tattenai governor of the region west of the Euphrates River, Shethar-bozenai, and your colleagues, the officials in the region” (v. 6). These guys have been intimidating and bullying the Jews, and the king of all Persia tells them to clear out of Jerusalem. Next he addresses their relationship to the effort to rebuild the temple: “Leave the construction of the house of God alone. Let the governor and elders of the Jews rebuild this house of God on its original site” (v. 7).

So they are to stay away, allow the temple to be rebuilt, and they are not to inject themselves into the rebuilding effort but let the Jews do it. Darius goes on to make them pay for it—not just the rebuilding but the resumption of worship—in verses 8-9:

I hereby issue a decree concerning what you must do, so that the elders of the Jews can rebuild the house of God:

The cost is to be paid in full to these men out of the royal revenues from the taxes of the region west of the Euphrates River, so that the work will not stop. Whatever is needed—young bulls, rams, and lambs for burnt offerings to the God of heaven, or wheat, salt, wine, and oil, as requested by the priests in Jerusalem—let it be given to them every day without fail.

Darius seems to think that if he keeps all the minor local deities placated, he will have peace in his realm. This appears to be reflected in 51the statement of self-interest in verse 10: “so that they can offer sacrifices of pleasing aroma to the God of heaven and pray for the life of the king and his sons.”

This generosity is replete with threats that are reminiscent of Nebuchadnezzar (cf. Dan 2:5; 3:29):

I also issue a decree concerning any man who interferes with this directive: Let a beam be torn from his house and raised up; he will be impaled on it, and his house will be made into a garbage dump because of this offense. (Ezra 6:11)

Having stated this curse that reminds Ezra’s audience of the book of Daniel, Darius then makes statements that use language frequent in the narratives from Deuteronomy through 1 and 2 Kings:

May the God who caused His name to dwell there overthrow any king or people who dares to harm or interfere with this house of God in Jerusalem. I, Darius, have issued the decree. Let it be carried out diligently. (Ezra 6:12)

That first statement may indicate that Darius had Jewish advisors, men who served him as Daniel had served earlier kings, who had told him of Yahweh’s relationship to Jerusalem in the same terminology used in earlier Old Testament narratives.

Before we go on to look at the completion of the work on the temple, let me invite you to put yourself in the sandals of those who were being intimidated and threatened back in Ezra 5:1-4, when the inhabitants of the land came asking questions and taking names. If you had been there then, when they left with a list of names, how would you have responded? What would have been the character of the things coming out of your mouth?

I think most Christians would have responded well: their grave concern would have provoked prayer. They would call on God, believing that He cares for His people, believing that the task was what God wanted done, believing that He would enable faithfulness, even if He didn’t take all the problems away.

Maybe some of us, however, would have said things that we would later regret, expressing unwarranted pessimism, despair, and hopelessness, as though we don’t know God. Let me encourage you: The next time you are about to say something pessimistic, remember that God uses even opposition to bless His people. Remember that God used the 52opposition of these inhabitants from the land as a way to get the building of the second temple funded. God causes those who keep His Word to prosper in all they do.

Maybe you’re reading this and you don’t know God. To this point in your life you have been unaware of His purposes, unaware of His power, unaware of His instructions, and you have no idea what you need to do to know this God. Let me encourage you to think about this story that we’re studying here in Ezra 5-6. The Bible presents this God who loves His people and always does what is right. The Bible teaches that those who trust this God and believe what He says are blessed in all they do. The Bible teaches that those who have failed to trust, failed to believe, and failed to do what God has said can be made right with Him. As we proceed through the rest of this passage, it will point us to how people can be reconciled to God.

The Second Temple And The Passover

Ezra 6:13-22

The local officials obey Darius in Ezra 6:13, and the first part of verse 14 states, “And the elders of the Jews were building and prospering through the prophecy of Haggai the prophet and Zechariah the son of Iddo” (my trans.). Notice the connection here between the prospering of the work and the prophesying of the prophets. Those who heed the Lord’s Word prosper (again we have the same root—though in Aramaic—that we have in Ps 1:3 and Josh 1:8).

The rest of verse 14 tells us of the relationship between God’s purpose and the decrees of these pagan kings: “And they built and finished by the decree of the God of Israel, and by the decree of Cyrus and Darius and Artaxerxes king of Persia” (my trans.). God accomplishes His decrees through the decrees of the kings. The decrees of the kings are what they are because God has purposed to cause the temple to be rebuilt. Notice how this statement doesn’t say that the temple was rebuilt. It says “they built and finished.” This is because, while Cyrus and Darius decreed that the temple be built, Artaxerxes is also mentioned here; he was the king who reigned in Ezra’s day, when a different building project was underway.

We read about what Artaxerxes decreed in Ezra 7, where he sends Ezra back, decreeing that Jews who wish may go with Ezra (7:13) and that funds are to be provided for them (7:21). Artaxerxes later allowed 53Nehemiah to return to Jerusalem to rebuild city and wall. Once again, Ezra has tied the efforts of his own generation to the efforts of the first generation of returnees. God’s work on behalf of Ezra’s generation is like His work on behalf of the first generation that returned and built the temple. God is for Ezra’s generation just as He was for those who rebuilt the temple. God is carrying forward His purposes in the world through Israel. Verse 15 tells us that the temple was completed in the sixth year of Darius, which we refer to as 516 bc.

Ezra 6:16-18 tells us about the dedication of the temple and the ordering of the priests and Levites. Verse 17 refers to the 12 male goats for the tribes of Israel. This mention of 12 goats has in view the restoration of the 12 tribes of Israel.

I mentioned just above that this passage would tell us how people who have transgressed against God might be reconciled to Him. God gave the temple to Israel under the old covenant for this purpose. God is holy. People are sinful. God makes a way for Israel to be cleansed of sin by giving them the temple, in which He dwells, where Israel can offer sacrifices to atone for their sin. Look at the reference to “a sin offering” there in verse 17. In order to sacrifice a valuable animal, these Israelites had to believe God’s word, recognize God’s holiness against their sin, and believe that if they offered the sacrifice they would be pleasing to God. Look at verse 10, which mentions “sacrifices of pleasing aroma to the God of heaven.”

We no longer offer sacrifices to atone for sin because Jesus died to make a complete and full atonement for sin. His death makes it possible for those who recognize that God’s holiness is against their sin to be reconciled to God by trusting in Jesus. Would you like to be reconciled to God? You need only believe His Word and trust in Jesus.

Ezra 7-10 move from these who returned to the land and rebuilt the temple to those who returned to the land in Ezra’s time. This first unit of the book of Ezra, chapters 1-6, closes with the first generation of returnees celebrating the Passover at the rebuilt temple in 6:19-22. The Passover commemorates God’s deliverance of Israel from Egypt. As Jeremiah and other prophets warned of the coming exile, they promised a new deliverance that would eclipse the exodus from Egypt in significance (e.g., Jer 16:14-15). Isaiah prophesied that when God restored His people, non-Israelites would worship the Lord with Israel (Isa 66:18-21).This celebration of the Passover in Ezra 6 anticipates the fulfillment of those prophecies. This returned community is hoping to experience 54the new deliverance that will be greater than the exodus. Hope is alive, and by celebrating the Passover, this returned community is acting on hope and stoking its flames.

The returned community might have seemed rude in Ezra 4:3 when they refused the offer of help from the peoples of the land. Many people are troubled by what will take place in chapters 9-10, when we see those who have married foreign wives forced to put them away. What we see here in 6:21 helps us understand both the refusal of help and the putting away of foreign wives. Israel can accept outsiders if those outsiders will join with Israel. Look at who gets to celebrate the Passover:

The Israelites who had returned from exile ate it, together with all who had separated themselves from the uncleanness of the Gentiles of the land in order to worship Yahweh, the God of Israel.

This shows us that the returned community is not into racism. No, they’re into holiness.

Holiness gives joy—they celebrated the festival with joy, “because the Lord had made them joyful” (v. 22). The first part of Ezra closes with a note of God’s power over the foreign rulers: the Lord “turned the heart of the king of Assyria to them to strengthen their hands in the work of the house of God, the God of Israel” (6:22b; my trans.). Ezra does not refer to the king “of Assyria” because he is confused about the identity of the king (cf. 1:2 “of Persia,” 3:7 “of Persia,” 4:3 “of Persia,” 5:13 “of Babylon,” 6:14 “of Persia,” 7:1 “of Persia”). Ezra deliberately references Assyria to link Assyria, Babylon, and Persia, all of which represent the evil empire over against the kingdom of God. Those who oppose Israel are identified with one another, just as Ezra identifies his own generation with the generation who returned to the land and successfully rebuilt the temple. God causes those who keep His Word to prosper in whatever they do.


I began this section with the story of that impossibly difficult theme that was given to Johann Sebastian Bach to improvise into a three-part fugue on the spot in the presence of Frederick the Great. The story continues: “When Bach had finished the three-part fugue, while his audience of virtuosi was still ‘seized with astonishment,’ Frederick asked Bach if he could go himself one better, this time making the theme into a fugue for55 six voices. Knowing instantly that he had no hope of doing such a vastly more complex improvisation (Bach had never even written a six-part fugue for keyboard) ... he said he would have to work it out on paper and send it to Frederick later” (Gaines, Evening in the Palace of Reason, 9-10).

Later writers have suggested that Bach recognized that a trap had been set for him, and thus he entitled the piece he composed “Musical Offering,” the word “offering” in German carrying the connotation of “sacrifice” and “victim.” Gaines writes,

Bach’s Musical Offering leaves us, among other things, a compelling case for the following proposition: that a world without a sense of the transcendent and mysterious, a universe ultimately discoverable through reason alone, can only be a barren place; and that the music sounding forth from such a world might be very pretty, but it can never be beautiful.... [H]is Musical Offering to Frederick represents as stark a rebuke of his beliefs and worldview as an absolute monarch has ever received. Not incidentally, it is also one of the great works of art in the history of music. (ibid., 10, 12)

Timothy Smith writes,

Who had the last word? In his later years Bach knew full well that his music was not in vogue. Although he had demonstrated on several occasions that he could write in the popular style, he rarely did so, continuing to favor contrapuntal music long after it had fallen out of favor. Why? Gaines’s answer: Bach knew that time indeed would tell. He knew that his counterpoint had profound spiritual substance that would, someday, be welcomed and treasured. He had appropriated these words, having marked them well in his Bible: “Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.” (“Review of Evening in the Palace of Reason by James R. Gaines”)

God causes those who keep His Word to prosper in all they do.

Reflect and Discuss

  1. In Ezra 5, the leaders Zerubbabel and Jeshua obey the prophets Haggai and Zechariah. Can you think of other times in the Old Testament when the leaders obeyed the prophets?
  2. Ezra 5:2 says that the prophets were supporting Zerubbabel and Jeshua. How do the prophets respond to leaders who do not heed the prophetic word?
  3. Respond to this suggestion: We can learn from Ezra 5 that the members of a church should listen to their pastor and do what he says.
  4. In what other cases in the Bible have you noticed that wicked lawbreakers accuse God’s people, who typically obey the civil authorities and laws of the land, of being subversive lawbreakers? How does this still happen today?
  5. If you had been there when the officials came taking names in Ezra 5:4, how do you think you would have responded?
  6. How does this go along with Paul’s admonition to obey civil authorities (Rom 13:1-7)?
  7. The opposition caused the rebuilding of the temple to be funded by the opponents. Have you seen the Lord turn bad circumstances to good like this in your life?
  8. Ezra 5:8 and 6:14 describe the work prospering, and 6:14 also mentions the ministry of Haggai and Zechariah. What does Psalm 1 teach about what makes people prosper?
  9. What kinds of non-Jews are allowed to celebrate the Passover in Ezra 6:21? What kinds of people are allowed to join with you in the Lord’s Supper in your church?
  10. Why would Darius be called the king of Assyria in Ezra 6:22?