After the battle at Carchemish, Cyrus the Great, king of the Achaemenid Empire, was the monarch who ended the Babylonian captivity. In the first year of his reign he was prompted by God to decree that the Temple in Jerusalem should be rebuilt and that Jews who wished to could return to their homeland for this purpose.
In the Bible (e.g., Ezra 1:1–4), Cyrus is famous for freeing the Jewish captives in Babylonia and allowing them to return to their homeland.
Therefore, when King Darius searched to see if the Jews were allowed by law to rebuild the temple, he discovered this edict. Here we are reading Ezra the priest’s account:
“1 In the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, in order to fulfill the word of the Lord spoken by Jeremiah, the Lord moved the heart of Cyrus king of Persia to make a proclamation throughout his realm and also to put it in writing:
2 “This is what Cyrus king of Persia says: “‘The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth and He has appointed me to build a temple for Him at Jerusalem in Judah. 3 Any of His people among you may go up to Jerusalem in Judah and build the temple of the Lord, the God of Israel, the God who is in Jerusalem, and may their God be with them. 4 And in any locality where survivors may now be living, the people are to provide them with silver and gold, with goods and livestock, and with freewill offerings for the temple of God in Jerusalem.’” (Ezra 1:1-4 NIV).
These words are what King Darius discovered about the rebuilding of the temple as he searched the records after the locals tried to stop the project, and so, as Cyrus had proclaimed, Darius passed the financial responsibility on to those who were complaining and trying to stop the rebuilding.
The new temple in Jerusalem was completed in 516 B.C. The golden vessels taken by Nebuchadnezzar’s leaders and royal accountants from Solomon’s temple were returned to the Jewish people, and these objects were placed where they belonged in the new temple.
Ezra the priest was still living and studying in Babylon when in the seventh year of Artaxerxes I, king of Persia (c.457 B.C.), the king sent him back to Jerusalem to teach the laws of God to any who did not know them. And so, Ezra led a large body of exiles back to Jerusalem.
Clearly, Artaxerxes, Cyrus, and Darius had perceived that the Jewish people needed to be able to worship their God, who was not a local God as these kings seem to view Him.
Rather, Yahweh is the God who made the universe, the one and only true God.
When they arrived, Ezra discovered that Jewish men had been marrying non-Jewish women. This was forbidden. Ezra had plenty of work to do after that discovery. Only the poor and lower class people of Israel had been left in the area around Jerusalem. These also needed teaching as Artaxerxes had foreseen.
The journey from Babylon to Jerusalem took Ezra the priest and the caravan he was traveling with four months to traverse the nearly 900 miles (1,448 km). An army could have traveled much faster, but Ezra’s entourage probably included children and elderly people.
Malachi addressed the priests in approximately 450 B.C., some sixty-six years after the new temple in Jerusalem was completed in 516 B.C.
As a result, Malachi exposed the priests’ offenses at that time and rebuked them for condoning these, thus violating the Lord’s covenant with Levi.
Therefore, the LORD makes it all clear.
God wants us to know: “A son honors his father, and a servant his master. If then I am a Father, where is my honor? And if I am a Master, where is my fear? says the Lord of hosts to you, O priests, who despise my name. But you say, ‘How have we despised your name?‘ (Malachi 1:6 ESV).
Turning from the people to the priests, Jehovah asks, whereas His love of the people was so great, where was their love towards Him?
If the priests, as they profess, regard Him, the LORD God, as their Father (Is 63:16) and Master, let them show the reality of their profession by love and reverential fear (Ex 20:12; Lu 6:46).
For the priests, this questions their obedience to God. For they have been marrying women who are not Jews, when the Levites and priests were required by God to marry Jewish women.
The priests are modeling disobedience to God’s Law rather than obedience.
The Lord has loved His people, the descendants of Jacob, preserving them through a captivity of nearly seventy years. The Lord knows how the behavior of the priests can either turn the people toward Him or away from Him, and so . . .
He addresses the priests because they ought to be leaders in piety to the rest of the people, but instead, they are rather the foremost in “despising His name.” The priests have failed in their purpose and their responsibility.We don't talk much about reverential fear of the LORD, but our love and commitment to Him must enable us to recognize the need to respect, to exalt, and to love Him and His holy Name. Click To Tweet
We don’t talk much about reverential fear of the LORD, but our love and commitment to Him must enable us to recognize the need to respect, to exalt, and love Him and His holy Name.
Our God, the Lord God, Yahweh, holds the power of life and of death. He is the Creator of the universe.
Where does He fit in your space, your goals, your family, your life?The Lord God, Yahweh, holds the power of life and of death. He is the Creator of the universe. Where does He fit in your space, your goals, your family, your life? #LoveTheLord Click To Tweet
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