There are times when things change completely. On the 23rd March 2020 the UK went into lockdown. That’s changed life as we know it for many of us completely, at least for a season. In 587BC the Babylonians sacked Jerusalem, detroying the city and the temple and taking many inhabitants into captivity. That changed life completely! During the captivity, which we call the exile, the Persians defeat the Babylonians. The exile happened because they had been disobedient to God – but they did have prophecies of a return from exile. In 538BC some return to start rebuilding. They faced opposition and stopped. Today’s reading finds us in 520BC when works starts again under the Persian king Darius (Cyrus’ successor) and the Temple is finished finally in 516BC.
It’s a turning point again for Israel – and chapter 7 is a lifetime away from chapter 6 – 60 years later when Ezra finally arrives on the scene. But that is another story.
For me there are two things that stand out in this passage.
1) We need prophetic encouragement. They prospered through the prophetic encouragement of the prophets Haggai and Zechariah. Prophecy gives us courage – it “puts courage in” – to encourage. I personally found Ginny Burgin’s prophecy from 2007 which relates to what we are currently going through so helpful. We need the now word of God (when weighed and tested) as well as the written word of God that we have in our Bibles.
2) Joy – when the job was done they feasted with great joy. The Old Testament people of God new how to party in the Lord! For 7 days they celebrated with great joy. The “Lord had made them joyful” v22. Nehemiah will later tell us that the Joy of the Lord is our stength (Nehemiah8:10)
Seek God’s prophetic now words – through words, pictures, dreams and visions. God loves to speak to us through those as well as His Word the Scriptures!
Be joyful – allow God to fill you with fresh joy today!