Pastoral Commentary for Ezra 3-4
Author: Pastor Bob Nordlie
The first thing the Jewish settlers did once they were settled in their towns was to gather in Jerusalem and rebuild the altar of the Lord, which was in the courtyard of the temple. This was even before the foundation had been laid for the rebuilding of the temple itself. The remnant was determined to fulfill the Law of the LORD by reinstituting the sacrifices that had been commanded in the Law of Moses. They completed the altar and then offered the various sacrifices appointed for that season, along with numerous freewill offerings from God's people. Once again, the Jews turned to Tyre and Sidon to provide cedar logs for the rebuilding of the temple. The Levites were appointed to supervise the rebuilding of the temple. Once the foundation was laid a great celebration took place, and the people praised God singing: "For he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever toward Israel." Joy was mixed with sorrow, both over the memory of the former temple in all its grandeur, and over the idolatry and sin that had led to its destruction and to their captivity. Some of the enemies of the Jews approached Zerubbabel, offering to help in the rebuilding of the temple. Zerubbabel refused and the local inhabitants, the Samaritans, initiated a campaign to discourage the Jews and frustrate the rebuilding of the temple. Their efforts succeeded in delaying the project for nearly 15 years. Beginning in verse six of the reading, we learn how attempts to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem were also frustrated by the enemies of God's people. They wrote to the Persian king describing Jerusalem's rebuilding as an act of rebellion. King Artaxerxes responded by ordering that the rebuilding of Jerusalem be halted. With the King's backing, the enemies of the Jews went and forced them to stop their work of rebuilding. We can expect opposition in our own lives whenever we seriously undertake to do the work of the LORD.