God, working through King Cyrus of Persia, brings many Jews back to Jerusalem to build the temple, but that doesn’t mean finishing the work is a foregone conclusion. Yesterday and today we read of ongoing opposition by Persian leaders that slander Judah’s returned exiles. These opponents deceive Artaxerxes, the new king, by persuading him that the continual rebuilding of the temple means God’s people will then refuse to pay taxes. Of course, this is untrue, but Artaxerxes initially responds with alarm and calls Judah’s leaders to stop working on the temple; their work stops until Darius takes over for Artaxerxes.
Early in Darius’ reign these Hebrews begin working again, and they send word through Tattenai, a governor, that in fact Cyrus had commissioned this work. Thankfully truth is on the side of God’s people. After enquiring for and discovering Cyrus’s decree, Darius encourages the ongoing building of the temple. When God intends to accomplish some work, it is God who ensures its completion from beginning to end.