Study Notes

Ezra 5:1-2


If you recall from our study two weeks ago, the enemies of Judah and Benjamin had been trying to interrupt the Jews' work of rebuilding the temple of God in Jerusalem. They first tried to infiltrate their ranks by offering to partner together with them to build. When that offer was flatly rejected, they moved to plan "B," which was to discourage them, to frighten them, and to divide them. This second plan was successful in causing a slowdown of the work, but not stopping it entirely. And so, they turned to a plan "C," a third attempt to shut down the project. They wrote a letter to the current king of Persia, Artaxerxes, and told him that the Jews were rebuilding the city. Since it had rebelled against kings in the past, they reasoned, no doubt they would do it again, refusing to pay taxes and taking the territory away from the kingdom of Persia.

Unfortunately, this third plan was successful. The king issued an immediate "cease and desist" order, causing work on the temple to halt. It would not start up again until the second year of the reign of Darius.

5:1-2 How To Start Up Again?

When the enemy of God manages to put a stop to the work of God, there must be a way to get it started again. If a Christian is knocked down, there must be a way to get him back on his feet. If a marriage is split apart, there has to be a way to bring it back together. If we could learn from the Scriptures how this is done, the devil would have significantly fewer victories in the church, in Christians' lives, and in Christian marriages and ministries.

The Prophets

The key, we find out from these verses, was two prophets who managed to get things going again. Haggai and Zechariah were men that God used to inspire the Jews, to get them jump-started back up and running again.

Although Ezra does not offer a single quote from these men, we are not in the dark about what they proclaimed to the people of God. Fortunately, their writings have lasted to this day, in the Bible books that bear their names.

In these books, we have many of the prophecies that these two prophets spoke to Israelites. While Zechariah's book does not include the prophecy he spoke at this specific time, Haggai's does.


As we read through the first chapter of Haggai, which was the prophecy he gave to the people at this time, you see that this was not a "win one for the gipper" motivational speech.

Hag. 1:2-4 "Thus says the LORD of hosts, ‘This people says, "The time has not come, {even} the time for the house of the LORD to be rebuilt."'" Then the Word of the LORD came by Haggai the prophet saying, "Is it time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses while this house {lies} desolate?"

Haggai bluntly told them, "You guys are saying, 'It's not time yet to build the house.' But you seem to be building your own houses pretty nicely."

Hag. 1:5 Now therefore, thus says the LORD of hosts, "Consider your ways!

God is telling you to consider what it is that you are doing. Not only that, but consider the results of your actions:

Hag. 1:6 "You have sown much, but harvest little; {you} eat, but {there is} not {enough} to be satisfied; {you} drink, but {there is} not {enough} to become drunk; {you} put on clothing, but no one is warm {enough} ; and he who earns, earns wages {to put} into a purse with holes."

Have you noticed that your crops aren't growing like you'd expect them to, and that your personal budgets never seem to be met? The reason for this is that God gave you a job to do and you're not doing it.

Hag. 1:7-8 Thus says the LORD of hosts, "Consider your ways! Go up to the mountains, bring wood and rebuild the temple, that I may be pleased with it and be glorified," says the LORD.

Haggai was giving it to them straight: build the temple, or you won't be blessed.

Hag. 1:9-11 "{You} look for much, but behold, {it comes} to little; when you bring {it} home, I blow it {away.} Why?" declares the LORD of hosts, "Because of My house which {lies} desolate, while each of you runs to his own house. Therefore, because of you the sky has withheld its dew, and the earth has withheld its produce. And I called for a drought on the land, on the mountains, on the grain, on the new wine, on the oil, on what the ground produces, on men, on cattle, and on all the labor of your hands."

You're so focused in on your own selves that you're neglecting My command, and I will not bless that. That's why nothing is going right for you.

Fortunately, the chapter finishes by saying that when the people heard this prophecy, they obeyed God, showed reverence for Him, and started the work again.

How To Restart The Works

I think it is important that we understand the cause and effect here, because it will help us in restarting other works of God that have stopped, be they ministries or marriages, callings or commitments. The people stopped, and Haggai got in their faces. He pointed out to them the selfishness of their actions. He told them how God had not, and would not, bless their lives when they were in disobedience. That was it!

Now, this might sound too simple, but it works! When we are faithful to tell the truth, then God is free to confirm it in the person's heart and restore them. Now, this doesn't mean that we get brutal, pulling out the ol' truth sledgehammer and bashing them in the head with it! Paul exhorted,

Gal. 6:1 who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness...

So the key is presenting the truth, but gently. "Look, brother. God is not going to bless your life when you have abandoned the ministry that He's called you to. Have you noticed nothing is working out like you'd hoped?" "Dear sister, don't you recognize that your broken marriage has to be fixed before God will allow abundance in the rest of your life?" This is the gentle truth that will restart and jump start an abandoned work of God.

In The Name Of God

Notice too that these two prophets prophesied to the Jews "in the name of the God of Israel."

The expressions "in the name of God" and "in the name of the Lord" are used frequently in the Bible.

Priests would stand and serve in the name of the Lord (Deut. 18:5-7) and bless in the name of the Lord (Deut. 21:5); Prophets spoke in the name of the Lord (Deut. 18:22); David came to Goliath in the name of the Lord (1Sam 17:45); and swore an oath to Jonathan in the name of the Lord (1Sam. 20:42); And Elijah built an altar in the name of the Lord (1Kings 18:32). The psalmist even said that he would cut off the sinful nations in the name of the Lord (Psalm 118).

There are many more examples, but I wonder how many of us really understand what "in the name of God" really means? Preachers shout, "in the naaaaammmeee of Jeeeesssusss," and we sing, "Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord." Do we really understand what we're saying?

When you do something "in the name of," you are putting yourself in the place of being God's representative, His ambassador. When the priests were serving in the name of the Lord, they were acting as God's representatives on earth. When David confronted Goliath in the name of the Lord, he was being God's hand, God's weapon. When the psalmist said that he would cut off the nations in the name of the Lord, he was saying that God would use him as the instrument of judgment. When we sing, "Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord, "we are saying that Jesus came as the Father's representative, His ambassador on earth.

This leads us into a very common misconception about praying in Jesus' name. It is true that Jesus said,

John 14:13-14 "And whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it."

Most people think that this means, "As long as you put the tag line 'in Jesus' name' at the end of a prayer, God has to answer it." But that is clearly not the case. In fact, praying in Jesus' name means that you are coming to the Father as an ambassador of Jesus. You are representing the Son of God to Father God. You are coming to the throne of God saying, "I am here in the name of Jesus. I am about the business of the Son of God, and I am making this request on His behalf. I am representing the heart and mind of Christ by bringing this request to the throne today."

We might be better off if we began to pray, "Father, as an ambassador of Christ on earth, I am asking..." Does this violate some Biblical bounds of prayer etiquette? I don't believe so. It may surprise you to hear that there is not a single prayer in the Bible that ends, "in Jesus' name, Amen." But we are told to pray in Jesus' name.

So, whether we are praying, blessing, or serving, in His name, we are doing it as His representatives. Paul told the Colossians,

Col. 3:17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.

So, these prophets, Haggai and Zechariah, were prophesying in the name of the God of Israel.

Began To Rebuild The House

The result of their prophesying in the name of God was that the work began again. The house of God, the temple, was once again being rebuilt. And the prophets Haggai and Zechariah were supporting them. I commend to you this week the reading of these two books, to hear how the people were exhorted and encouraged as they performed this great work of God.

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