Know therefore and understand…
It was a feeble and a broken remnant which wound its weary way out of Babylon to rebuild the city d their fathers and the Temple of their God. Long captivity had wrought its sure work upon the people. They had been "mingled with the heathen, and learned their ways." They were so slow to build the Temple that the threatening voices of Haggai and Zechariah hardly stirred them to the work by every entreaty and menace and judgment. With such mingled materials, the Tirshatha and the priest had a great work to do. Though the king's edict was clear, and his favour undoubted, the Jews had many enemies, and they fierce, strong, unscrupulous. Slander, falsehood, and violence, open attacks and secret wiles, must all be repelled. Yet all difficulties were overcome. "The street was built again, and the wall," though the times were troublous. The Temple of God did arise out of its ashes. Why was this result only to be attained through these difficulties? These are some of the reasons. By their being thus tried a provision was made by which, amongst, those who undertook his work, the true-hearted might be sifted from the false and hollow. For though at last the will of God must be done by all, by good and bad, the obedient and the disobedient, by saints and reprobates, by angels and devils; yet to do consciously and rejoicingly His will, this is the blessing only of the faithful. And not only were the good severed from the bad, by the difficulties with which they had to struggle, but in the several hearts of the faithful, this same work was being wrought. A sifting was going on in their moral nature; a parting of the precious from the vile. And this trial of their faith drove them to God in their work. What is all this which we have traced out, but the universal law under which the Church of Christ is placed. From first to last this is its history. It is built up, but in troublous times. How plain is this feature in its earliest history! What was the earthly life of our blessed Master but a service under trial? With what tribulation and, suffering were the foundations of the Church laid. Since the apostles' time this has been the law of the Church. They who at any time have done great things in it have been trained and exercised in manifold sufferings, inward and outward. Thus only can the Church be purged. Thus only can the work be done within God's servants. The countersign of sanctified affliction should be on the Church; the patient waiting, the burnished arms, the earnest prayer, the united hearts, the untiring watchfulness, the deep humility, the prevailing intercessions, the unwearied labours, the godly jealousy, of those who hold fast to God amidst a self-choosing, and, therefore, a gainsaying generation. There is for each one of us, as separate members of Christ, the self-same voice. Here is the secret of our inmost life. To hold on amidst discouragements — to lift up to God, a face often wet by tears, and soiled by mourning — to know outward trials and inward — to be tempted, buffeted, yea, above all, betrayed! This is our life. Hardly, and after many a struggle, does the evil depart from us. The building goes on slowly — with arms in our hands — amidst reproaches — with watching unto prayer. Let us seek to know this for ourselves in very deed.
(Bishop Samuel Wilberforce.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times.
WEB: Know therefore and discern, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem to the Anointed One, the prince, shall be seven weeks, and sixty-two weeks: it shall be built again, with street and moat, even in troubled times.