Thus King Darius ordered a search of the archives stored in the treasury of Babylon.
I. THE AUTHENTICATION.
1. The author's signature. "Cyrus the king."
(2) The same God that inspired the prophecy found means to bring it under the notice of the king. Cyrus accordingly accepted the Divine commission (2 Chronicles 36:23; Ezra 1:2, 3). Lesson - We should trust that providence which rules all rulers.
2. The date of the document. "In the first year of Cyrus."
(1) This date, B.C. 536, recalls the prophecy of Jeremiah, which assigned seventy years for the duration of the captivity. These were now completed.
(a) Let us see the hand of God in everything.
(b) Nothing is too trivial to be mentioned in prayer.
3. The place of its custody
(1) Tatnai specified "the king's treasure house at Babylon"(Ezra 5:17). Probably because the decree may have been signed there. Search was made accordingly at that treasure house in the royal library, but the document was not found. The malignity of the Apharsachites would now be gratified.
(2) Further search was made at Achmetha, "in the palace that is in the province of the Medes." Here the roll was recovered. Note -
(a) God watches over the true.
(b) The triumphing of the wicked is transient.
II. THE MATTER "CONCERNING THE HOUSE OF GOD AT JERUSALEM."
1. "Let the house be builded.
1. To serve typical purposes.
2. To keep his people from mingling with idolaters. Note - In this spiritual dispensation these reasons no longer obtain (see John 4:20-24).
(2) Where they offered sacrifices." Levitical sacrifices were restricted to the temple because the Shechinah and sacred fire were there; and this ordinance kept the people from sacrificing on high places with idolaters. For this latter reason, though the Shechinah and fire were absent from the second temple, still the ancient place of sacrificing is respected. Lesson - Every species of idolatry should be scrupulously avoided.
2. The manner in which it was to be done.
(1) "Let the foundations be strongly laid." These typified Christ, upon whom the fabric of his Church is built (see Matthew 16:16-18; 1 Corinthians 3:11; Ephesians 2:20-22). Note - We may confidently rest on him the whole weight of our eternal interests.
(2) "The height thereof threescore cubits, and the breadth thereof threescore cubits." This differed from Solomon's temple, first, in that it was larger; and secondly, in that it was square. Solomon's temple was thirty cubits high and sixty broad. The New Jerusalem also is foursquare (see Revelation 21:16). The cube was by the ancients regarded as a figure of perfection and universality, and, in the typical temple, may anticipate these qualities of the heavenly state of the Church.
(3) "Three rows of great stones, and a row of new timber" (see Ezra 5:8). The timber seems to have been laid upon every third course of stones. Note - This timber built in amongst the stones would facilitate that destruction of the temple by fire described by Josephus.
3. How the cost was to be defrayed.
(1) "Let the expenses be given out of the king's house" (see Ezra 3:7). Note - The hearts of princes are in God's hands. Prayer should be made to him rather than recourse be had to precarious expedients for raising funds for his work.
III. THE MATTER CONCERNING THE SACRED VESSELS.
1. Vessels of the metals.
2. Removed by Nebuchadnezzar.
(1) Taken from the temple. The sin of the people was the cause. The removal of the vessels was therefore a sign to them of their apostasy.
(2) Taken to Babylon. Type of the confusion of the world. Placed there in the temple of his god (see Ezra 1:7, 8; Ezra 5:14). Thence taken out only to make sport for the licentious (see Daniel 5:2-4). What a graphic figure of the condition of the backslider!
3. Now to be restored.
(1) "Brought back again to the temple." Sign of the hope a backslider may cherish in the mercy of God.
(2) Restored "every one to his place," i.e. every one that was restored. Many things were wanting in the second temple, and some of the vessels may have been lost. Backsliders must not presume upon an infallible final perseverance of the saints. - J.A.M.
And search was made in the house of the rolls.
1. Honest and thorough investigation promotes the interests of religion and of the Church of God.
2. The advantage of written history.
3. How great should be our gratitude for the sacred writings.
(W. F. Adeney, M. A.)
A record thus written
I. THE FIRST CHAPTER IS THAT OF NEW BEING, BIRTH AND GROWTH. Many houses have been made the scenes of holy gladness by the gifts of God's creative and inspiring power. What trust so great as that of a living spirit, with its own individual nature and with capacities for a peculiar development of intellectual and moral strength? With what reverent, trembling sense of responsibility it should be received! What office so high in rank, so great in opportunity, so large in patronage or susceptible of good, with such hope and fear wrapped up in it, as the parental once? What expanding of outward nature or unfolding of earthly ambition is really so grand and affecting as that of an undying soul? No changes of material growth, of splendid seasons and solemn spectacles can equal this. It makes the purest inspiration of love, it turns self-sacrifice into a pleasure; it plies the inventive faculties with all knowledge and wisdom to provide for the beloved object; it draws the mind into long foresight of its benefit and improvement; and by the force of mingling filial and parental communications exalts the soul to a perception of the relation of all to Him who is the common Father. Life's record, then, is not all of gloomy change and irreparable privation, but of strength enhancing, existence renovating, and of new possession.
II. BUT I MUST TURN THIS ILLUMINATED LEAF OF THE RECORD TO A PACE VEILED IN SHADES. It is the record of sickness and decline. And what shall we say of this change? We cannot make our record all pleasant and cheerful if we would. The skeleton that the Egyptians carried to their banquets will intrude upon every feast of our earthly joy and fling its ghastly shadow both across the avenues of our immediate thought and along the vistas of our farthest recollection. But although sickness comes with very sharp instrumentalities, yet she comes with a bright retinue. Patience, resignation, spiritual thoughts of God and of futurity come with her. As the most blazing effulgence of heaven sleeps within the black cloud, so in the lowering darkness and eclipse of bodily suffering often lies the very brilliance of a spiritual and Divine glory.
III. WE NOW TURN THE LAST LEAF OF OUR RECORD. It ends, like all earthly records, with death. God by His Son Jesus Christ lifts up the burden of sadness that settles down on a record like this. Being dead in the body, our departed friends yet speak for truth and goodness more loudly and more persuasively than when their words fell on our outward hearing. They have gone that they might awaken our virtue, and that they might chill and discourage our worldly lusts. Like the stars, though with a warmer attraction, they lift and beckon us up. The light burns on, the fountain flows, the music sounds for us. Neither is this final change and record in the providence of God a ground for lamentation. It is rather a declaration of our native dignity as His children. It is the announcement of our glorious destiny. It is a summons to us to gird up our loins, trim our lamps, watch and be ready.
(C. A. Bartol.)
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