WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday July 14, 2013
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DEDICATION OF THE TEMPLE
(Dedicating our work to GOD)
In Ezra chapter 6, after Tattenai, governor of the province west of the Euphrates, Shethar-bozenai, and other government officials sent a letter to King Darius of Persia seeking to halt the construction on the temple at Jerusalem by Zerubbabel and others (Ezra 5:6-17), the king ordered a search of the Babylonian archives to find out if it was true that King Cyrus, his predecessor, had ever issued a decree to rebuild it (6:1).
The search was made first in the palace at Babylon, and then later at the royal summer palace at the fortress of Ecbatana, in the province of Media. In the palace in Media, a scroll was found that told of King Cyrus’ original decree to allow the Israelites to rebuild the temple of GOD there in Jerusalem (6:2). King Darius then, instead of stopping the reconstruction of the temple, ordered that Tattenai and his officials stop their interference in the building project, and further ordered them to fully finance and personally assist in the completion of the work (Vs. 6-12).
It is the classic story of how GOD will provide for those who are attempting to do HIS work in the world, HIS way. When GOD gives a person a task to do, HE always gives them the power necessary to carry out and complete that task to HIS satisfaction. Oftentimes, GOD has already prepared us, long in advance, for the work HE will call us to do at some future date, and HE will always remove those roadblocks that satan sets up in our way. Here in this passage, GOD not only removes the roadblock out of the way of Zerubbabel and the Israelites, but HE also uses those who sought to block the way, to actually pitch in and help out, in addition to fulfilling their regular duties for their king.
The Jewish leaders, and the people, continued their work and were greatly encouraged by the preaching and help of the prophets Haggai and Zechariah along the way. The temple was finished in four years, and it was constructed just as it had been commanded by GOD, and sanctioned by the kings of Persia (Cyrus, Darius, and Artaxerxes).
In 515 B.C., on the twelfth day in the last month of the year, exactly 70 years after the temple was first destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 B.C., the reconstruction of the temple was completed. This was about five and a half years after GOD had sent the prophets Haggai and Zechariah to tell the Israelite people to go back to work on the temple (Ezra 5:1-2).
And although this temple never quite reached the glory of the one built by King Solomon, the people still rejoiced in its dedication with just as much zeal as anyone ever had before them. And although nothing is said of it being filled with the glory of GOD as the original temple was, one must know that GOD was indeed pleased with their efforts.
During the dedication ceremony 712 animal sacrifices were made, including 12 male goats as sin offerings for the twelve tribes of Israel. Then the priests and Levites were divided into their various divisions to serve in the temple, following all of the instructions of Moses, the man of GOD (Vs. 17-18). In the spring of the following year, the returning exiles were able to celebrate their first Passover in the new temple of GOD (Vs. 19-22).
This temple was later enlarged to a more magnificent scale and was further beautified by King Herod the Great, at the beginning of the first century A.D. However, it was destroyed again in A.D. 70 by the Romans, at the hands of the Emperor Titus. JESUS had foretold of this destruction during HIS three-year earthbound ministry (Mark 13:1-2 & Luke 19:41-44).
A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander
LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website