- In the very first paragraph of the chapter, we read “the Lord moved the heart of Cyrus, the king of Persia.” I love this because it provides substance to our prayers for our leaders, no matter what God they choose to serve. At first glance I thought that the Cyrus might be a believer, but I don’t think so. He is respectful of “the Lord, the God of heaven” no doubt, but he refers to him as “their God.” I wonder what he thought by the end of his reign.
- How incredible must it have felt to those Jews who were actually returning to a place they remembered, the place where they grew up and the place they saw destroyed. I have never had an experience like this, but I imagine it was somewhat emotional for them.
- Haggai and Zechariah both bring messages of hope and courage for the people as they embark on their new journey home to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple. Wrapped up in their prophecy is always the hint of what will happen when the Messiah comes. Knowing a bit of the story of Jesus helps here. In Jesus, the temple structure of God’s presence is done away with and replaced by the Holy Spirit living in temples not made by human hands, but fashioned by the reformed hearts of humanity. This is good stuff.
- I laughed when Tettanai came to question the authority by which they were rebuilding the temple and in the end the expense for the building came from his budget. Think he wished he had kept his mouth shut?
- My first glance has me a little confused as to some dates – namely the reign of King Darius. If he was the King when Daniel was in the lion’s den in 539 and the temple is completed in the 6th year of the reign of King Darius, that seems to put completion of the temple in at least 533, right? But we read that completion was March 12, 516, which is 23 years after Daniel’s episode. For me this doesn’t change the story, but it does force me to ask the question, “What gives?” I’ll let you know what I find out.
- So the temple in Jerusalem is rebuilt, but many Jews don’t return. Why not? What’s happening with the Northern Kingdom exiles? Is there still bad blood between the Northern and Southern people?
It’s easy to read without thinking, but I want to encourage you to write down some initial thoughts as you read through. See how you learn through the chapter and what truths God chooses to show you in the process. You are more than welcome to comment here…no judgement, just conversation…