The remnant of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin know this would lead to trouble and reject the “offer of help” from the local natives, who then formally complain to Artaxerxes, King of Persia. They warn him in a letter that Judah and Benjamin will likely refuse to honor him as King and to pay taxes if they are allowed to complete the building (4:7-16). Today, we would call this claim “political spin.” The King immediately issues a decree ordering cessation of the work and all seems lost.
But after 15 years, the prophets Haggai and Zechariah rise in the Spirit of God to convince Judah and Benjamin to continue the work. The King’s governor challenges their authority to resume construction and demands to know the source of any decree that justifies their action (5:1-17).
The head builders, Zerubbabel and Jeshua and the prophets Haggai and Zechariah respond respectfully that the decree was made by Cyrus years before. They humbly acknowledge that the original destruction of the Temple was the result of God’s judgment caused by Israel’s disobedience that had angered God. They appeal to the King to validate this decree.
With no lack of courage, they continue working until the King can reply.
King Darius not only affirms the builders’ claims but tells his governor to keep away and let them alone (6:6-7). Darius commands the governor to give them everything they need for building and to pay for it out of the King’s treasury!
Why would the King of Persia (now known as Iran!) bless Judah and Benjamin in this way?
“And whatever is needed—bulls, rams, or sheep for burnt offerings to the God of heaven, wheat, salt, wine, or oil, as the priests at Jerusalem require—let that be given to them day by day without fail, that they may offer pleasing sacrifices to the God of heaven and pray for the life of the king and his sons.”
And if this is not strong enough, Darius adds:
“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. 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.”
Darius is powerful king over most of the known world. He gives life and he gives death. But something has happened to him through the Spirit of God; it has changed him and he sees the greater power of God’s never-ending love for his children.
Darius the mighty fears the God of Israel! He sponsors God’s children so they may pray for his family! He is wise enough to acquiesce to the power of God demonstrated in the perfect unity of the Jews.
As Christians, our job is to proclaim the commands and promises of Israel’s Messiah, Jesus Christ. Is it our disunity that encourages dictators and terrorists to shut us out of the modern town square?
What should wise and powerful rulers of today see in us, and how might God intervene through them, if we learn to respond to the perfect unity Jesus prayed for in John 17?
 The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2001). (Ezr 6:9–10). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.
 The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2001). (Ezr 6:11–12). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.