15/7/01 Ezra 6:1-7 : Family Service

2 Volunteers. Ask them to tie a knot in a piece of string without letting go of either end.

Play Mission Impossible music.

Suggest they cross their arms, pick up the end with their hands, then unfold them, tying a knot.

Solving this problem depends on how you start. In life there are many situations that seem difficult or impossible and there may be times when we want to give up. In today's Bible reading God's people were in a difficult situation and may have been tempted to give up.

They had returned to their homeland after many years captivity in Babylon. In 539 B.C. the Persian King, Cyrus , had given them permission to return home and rebuild the temple in Jerusalem. But their enemies tried to discourage the Jews and make them afraid to continue the rebuilding ( 4:4f. ). This had already led to the work being suspended once ( 4:23 ). However, it restarted and the enemies of the Jews wrote to the new King, Darius asking him to stop the work. The Jews appealed to him by saying that they were doing this with the permission of the former King. Today's Bible reading is a response of King Darius to the compliant about the rebuilding.

Hannah - Ezra 6:1-7

The Jews faced opposition to the rebuilding, and this letter was the turning point in their situation. We can take two things from this.

We must keep on going.

Get volunteer to ride exercise bike for 1 minute.

Ask them if they feel better afterwards.

Why not ? Need to regularly exercise to keep fit. No pain no gain.

Bit like that spiritually. There are times when we have to go through pain in order to grow in our trust and devotion to God. The Jews had been frightened by their enemies, people were hired by their enemies to stop the rebuilding, and local officials used red tape to frustrate them. Allegations were made that they would rebel against the King. But they did not let this stop them. They were determined to do what God had promised them would happen.

e.g. starting college without selling house, continued mortgage payments, no reason it shouldn't sell, eating at our small savings then at the right time we were able to sell it, confirmed that we have a God who is trustworthy, built up our faith more than if we had sold it straight away.

Sure most people here have a story of when they have been through difficult times and God has been faithful. Those hard times can be used by God to build us up.

We must keep on trusting.

It might have been easy for the Jews to take things into their own hands. To fight against the local authorities, or bribe them or whatever. But this would have ignored what God had already done in inspiring King Cyrus to grant permission to rebuild the Temple, and to restore the temple treasures. After today's reading King Darius told the local officials who had opposed the rebuilding to help the Jews by giving money out of the money they collected for the King. They also had to provide animals, grain, salt, wine and oil used by the Temple every day so that sacrifices could be offered to God and so the King and his sons could be prayed for.

Imagine how humiliating this would have been to Tattenai and Shethar-Bozenai. They had to personally oversee these things diligently, according to King Darius' decree.

This was beyond the wildest expectations of the Jews and the rebuilding of the temple was completed in about four years( 6:15 ).

Many of you here will know that, just over a year ago we needed to find 12,000 to pay for the re-roofing of the Church Hall. Money came in from totally unexpected sources, and the final bill was less than the estimate which left us with a little money left.

We have a God who loves us, wants the best for us, delights in giving us good things and has a plan for our lives.

We are called to keep going, even and especially when things are difficult. We are also called to keep on trusting, for He can do things that we cannot in our own strength.