Darius had a search made of the archives. Indeed Cyrus had told the Jews to rebuild. Darius’ new decree goes even further to put the price of rebuilding on the neighbors.
We are not told that God worked on Darius’ heart but he certainly came down on the side of God. Darius may have been so inclined towards the Jews because of his respect for “Cyrus The Great.” He was indeed a great leader and king. His disposition towards the Jews inspired Darius to see that ALL Cyrus’ words were accomplished.
Our text today goes into greater detail about the decree of Cyrus. He even spelled out the size and composition of the new Temple. “Its height shall be sixty cubits and its breadth sixty cubits, with three layers of great stones and one layer of timber” (verses 3b-4a). Did God inspire this description and dimension in him or had he heard stories of the old Temple and went from there? I notice that the width is absent from these measurements. Was it to be a square? It was certainly different from the original. The Temple Solomon built was sixty cubits long, twenty cubits wide and thirty cubits high. If the Temple commissioned by Cyrus was a square it would be three times as wide and twice as high. I wonder how many stories this one was intended to have. The old one had three stories at thirty cubits. Would this one have six at sixty?
Cyrus also specified where the funds to build were to come from; the royal treasury. Darius got even more specific. He made the neighbors directly responsible for paying the bills out of what they would normally give the king. THEIR portion of the royal treasury would build the very structure they fought so hard to prevent, or at least their predecessors had. Darius also commanded that they provide everything that was needed for the sacrifices be provided by the ‘neighbors’ on a daily basis.
For the neighbors themselves though Darius told them to KEEP AWAY and let the work go on without interference. This would have been a wonderful decree to have had during Cyrus’ time but the people never asked for his help. Instead of appealing to the king who set all this in motion, the Jews bore whatever the neighbors did to discourage them during the initial rebuilding efforts. Were they afraid that if they ‘told on the neighbors’ that things would get worse? Were they just trying to keep their heads down as the new kids in town? How much could have been avoided if they had just spoken up or stood up for themselves.
Darius is not willing to let this be the case again. This building project set out by Cyrus WILL go forward to completion. He is FIRM in his resolve to support the rebuilding of the Temple and the people of God. ANYONE who tries to change his words or alter his decree will pay with his life. “Also I make a decree that if anyone alters this edict, a beam shall be pulled out of his house, and he shall be impaled on it, and his house shall be made a dunghill” (verse 11).
I LOVE how he ends his decree. He clearly recognizes God’s ability to fight for His people. At first I thought Darius was talking about his own power but I see clearly now that he is referencing God’s. “May the God who has caused His name to dwell there overthrow any king or people who shall put out a hand to alter this, or to destroy this house of God that is in Jerusalem” (verse 12a). Darius is charging God with protecting His House and Darius’ own decree too. Darius was God’s instrument and he knew and accepted it.
What surprised me most was that the records of Babylon were searched for the decree of Cyrus. Babylon, although conquered, seemed to play an important role in the kingdom of Persia. God used that nation, even after its demise in His plan. We know from Revelation that they will be the spearhead of Satan’s team. It’s strange seeing them being used to help God’s people.
God can use anyone anytime and anywhere to accomplish His purposes. He could in the beginning and He still can today! We can trust that NOTHING the ‘neighbors’ can do will stop Him or tear His people from His hands. I have no fear of what this world has going on in it now. God is big enough to keep me safe in it or take me safely out of it. I put my trust in Him alone!
Thank You Father God that You are in control. Nothing happens in this world that takes You by surprise or thwarts Your plans, for me and for the rest of the world. You have ‘got this’ and, as long as You have me in Your hands, I’ve got this through You.