ODJ: don’t give up!

September 5, 2014 

READ: Ezra 1:1-4 

Any of you who are his people may go to Jerusalem in Judah to rebuild this Temple of the LORD, the God of Israel, who lives in Jerusalem. And may your God be with you! (v.3).

Many odd and antiquated laws can be found around the world. In the UK, it’s an act of treason to place a postage stamp bearing a British monarch upside down, and in England specifically, it’s illegal to eat mince pies on the 25th of December. In one American state, women must get written permission from their husbands to wear false teeth. In Milan, Italy, it’s a legal requirement to smile at all times—except for funerals and hospital visits.
It would seem ridiculous to impose any of these laws today, but on one occasion, the enforcing of an old law eventually led to the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem. The Israelites had been living in Babylon as exiles for 70 years before the Persians came to power. In the first year of Cyrus, the king of Persia, the Lord moved in his heart and he declared that anyone who wanted to return to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple of the Lord should go (Ezra 1:1-4).

Those who went back to Jerusalem were met with great opposition, however, and eventually King Xerxes was tricked into decreeing an end to the rebuilding of the temple (4:1-24). Only in the second year of the reign of the next king (Darius)—when a letter was sent reminding him of the original decree of King Cyrus (5:6-17)—were the Israelites allowed to continue working on the temple. King Darius renewed his commitment to the old law, supplied all the materials needed for the temple’s restoration and ensured the safety of the Israelites who were again given permission to rebuild the temple without fear (6:1-12).

When your life is put on hold through the frustrating influence of others, remember the promise of the Lord and trust Him to make a way where there seems to be none (Ephesians 3:20).

—Ruth O’Reilly-Smith

365-day plan› Mark 12:28-37

Read 1 Thessalonians 5:24 and consider what it says about God’s will and faithfulness. 
What can you do to deepen your trust in God during times when you feel as if you’ve been placed on a shelf? How can you rest in His power and provision today?