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The Way

    by Kevin Pauley

God's Economy
Date Posted: January 10, 2023
"Leave this work on the house of God alone; let the governor of the Jews and the elders of the Jews rebuild this house of God on its site. Moreover, I issue a decree concerning what you are to do for these elders of Judah in the rebuilding of this house of God: the full cost is to be paid to these people from the royal treasury out of the taxes of the provinces beyond the River, and that without delay.” - Ezra 6:7-8 As we saw in the previous blog, “Acceptable Worship,” God had Cyrus order the rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem. The Jews obeyed, returned to Israel, chose priests, established the altar and began to build. When idol-worshipping people offered to help build the Temple, they rightly rejected the deal.
As people often do when their chosen form of worship is rejected (think Cain and Abel), the enemies turned against God’s people. First, they tried to discourage the work. When that didn’t work, they tried intimidation. Then they hired counselors to work against them. (Ezra 4:4-5). For example, they hired a false prophet to try and get Nehemiah to sin and make God turn against him (Nehemiah 6:12-13). Finally, they wrote a letter to Artaxerxes and influenced him through the use of slander, negativism and false predictions of losses. Artaxerxes succumbed to these lies and issued a decree halting the work.
What a tragedy! What a loss! What was God doing? Didn’t He realize His people were trying to do His work? Why did He allow this travesty of justice? In our short-sighted hubris, we often question God’s wisdom and sovereignty. But as always, God had plans in motion.
The work halted until the second year of the reign of Darius when Haggai and Zechariah encouraged the people to begin again in faith. Israel’s enemies once again tried the letter campaign approach but this time it backfired. When they suggested to Darius that he go back in the records to find the order concerning Israel, Darius’ workers found Cyrus’ orders to build the Temple. Darius not only told God’s enemies to back off, but to actually pay for the work! (Ezra 6) And not only were they to pay for the reconstruction, but they were to provide daily for the sacrifices! Isn’t Jehovah Jireh (God our Provider) amazing?
When we suffer the consequences of our obedience, we should rejoice (Romans 5:3-5). We need to rejoice because of the resulting maturity that can only be acquired this way. We need to rejoice because of the strength God gives to meet these times (2 Corinthians 12:9). But we also need to rejoice in the faith that God will not only cause us to survive but to thrive. Think of the example of Haman and Mordecai in the book of Esther! If He wills, He can even turn a travesty into a triumph. In God’s economy, our enemies often foot the bill (Proverbs 26:27)!

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Biography Information:
I make no claim of superior wisdom or originality. I am a student, just like everyone else. My goal in writing is to simply share whatever God chooses to teach me (many times by my children or parishioners) on any given day. I hope the devotionals are a blessing to you.

Kevin Pauley is a pastor and writer. He lives in Illinois with his wife, Lynn, their five children and two dogs. His internet address is Berea.
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