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Chinese2/18/2006English
經文:以斯拉記五至六章
鑰節:「以色列的祭司和利未人,並其餘被擄歸回的人,都歡歡喜喜的行奉獻上帝殿的禮。」(6:16)
提要

        以斯拉又再回頭講修建聖殿的事(參4:5)。敵人成功的阻撓了建殿事宜。猶太人因為軟弱,好些年來完全停工,正中了撒但的下懷。但上帝興起兩位先知,哈該及撒迦利亞(該1:1;撒1:1),傳揚上主的信息,鼓舞百姓的信心及熱心,繼續建殿的工作。哈該斥責百姓只顧建造自己的房子,任憑上帝的殿宇荒涼,撒但的迷惑使他們本末倒置了。所幸在兩位先知的奔走下,百姓又聽從了上帝的話,祂的靈也再次激動他們恢復建殿事宜(該1:4,12~14)。上帝透過先知堅定表彰自己的旨意,使百姓不再有任何疑惑,此刻他們帶著嶄新的朝氣,在聖靈大力推動下(撒4:6),奮發前進,再沒有任何反對勢力能攔阻,因為上帝的眼目看顧他們(5:5)。

        當時的河西總督達乃見狀,便寫信上奏大利烏王。內容雖不像前章猶大敵人寫的那麼惡毒(4:9~16);但其目的仍是希望大利烏王下詔,阻攔建殿工程。上帝的美意使大利烏王找到古列王從前下的詔書,赫然發現建殿是經過先王同意的。這事非同小可,因為先王的諭令不得更改,必須極為尊重(參但6:8)。上帝再次扭轉了一位國王的心(箴21:1),古列王和大利烏王先後促成了聖殿的重建!大利烏甚至熱心到把他在那一帶當得的貢銀捐出來,做為建殿基金。雖然他仍舊信仰多神,但從此對以色列的上帝起了相當大的敬畏。他對准許猶太人建殿一事給了如下的理由:「好叫他們獻馨香的祭給天上的上帝,又為王和王眾子的壽命祈禱」(6:10;參提前2:1~3;彼前2:13~15)。大利烏還降旨,如果有人違背此令,將受絞刑(6:11)。此令可能是針對達乃而發的,因他受了撒瑪利亞人(猶太人的鄰邦兼敵人)的影響,顯然不甚支持建殿。

        達乃接旨時想必大吃了一驚,但也不得不聽命,敵人的惡謀此刻遂全然瓦解。此後不到四年時間,聖殿即重建完畢,這真是要歸功於聖靈同在,先知推動,及兩位好王古列及大利烏的大力襄助。但以斯拉也給亞達薛西帶上一筆,因為他後來也獻了禮物給聖殿,且以斯拉執筆時,他正好在位(6:14;7:15~21)。

        聖殿完工,百姓歡歡喜喜的行奉獻禮,上帝的計畫遂告實現。值得注意的,這次並沒有火從天上降下,燒掉祭物,一如會幕時代,或所羅門獻殿的情景;也沒發生任何神蹟奇事,如摩西、以利亞、以利沙過去所展現的。甚至大祭司用烏陵、土明也問不出上帝的旨意了(2:63,問不出;出28:30)。在以斯拉、尼希米的時代,上帝雖然還興起了幾位先知(瑪拉基是最後一個),但接下來便是近四百年的沈默,直到施洗約翰出現,上帝才又藉著他說話。(瑪3:1;路1:76)。為什麼這樣呢?原來從以斯拉的時代起,以色列民必須學習使用上帝啟示的聖言(包括律法書、先知書),以得蒙屬天的引導,並預備心迎接彌賽亞降臨。上帝興起以斯拉,正是要他成為老師,好使百姓的心受到聖言滋潤和提醒(傳統亦公認是以斯拉把舊約正典中各卷書集合起來的)。以色列百姓從此跨入新的時代──微小聲的時代,學習更加憑信而行,不再單憑眼見。

        獻殿禮在猶太歷年底的亞達日舉行(6:15~16),緊接著次年年初,剛好慶祝逾越節(6:19;出12章)。按摩西律法的要求,祭司、利未人、百姓都認真潔淨自己(外表和內心),以求有資格吃這神聖的一餐。凡有罪的、沾染污穢的皆不得參加,因為聖俗是不能相混的。如此順服之後,上帝賜給他們極大的喜樂;他們當然也歸榮耀給上帝,稱謝祂行奇妙大能,或就這一切。的確,在上帝,凡事都能。

禱告

        主,您的悅納就是我們的力量,我們要稱謝您的美善。幫助我們知所先後,將您擺在首位,並得享從您而來的成功。奉耶穌基督的名禱告,阿們。

English

Scriptures:Read Ezra 5&6
Key Verse:"... the priests and the Levites and the rest of the descendants of the captivity, celebrated the dedication of this house of God with joy."(Ezra 6:16)
Overview

        Ezra now resumes the story of the rebuilding of the Temple (from 4:5). The adversaries of the Jews were successful in frustrating the building project for a few years. It was a weakness of the Jews to cease building and thus they yielded to the will of Satan. God, however, intervened by raising up two prophets, Haggai and Zechariah (Haggai 1:1; Zechariah 1:1). Their messages from the Lord encouraged and stirred the people's faith and zeal, inspiring them to again take up the task of rebuilding the Temple. Haggai rebuked the people for building their own houses and ignoring the House of the Lord. Satan succeeded in getting their priorities mixed up, but because of the persistence of Haggai and Zechariah, the people heeded God's voice and, by His Spirit, were stirred to work on the House of the Lord (Haggai 1:4, 12-14). Through the prophets, the Lord confirmed His will and did not leave His people in doubt. Now, with fresh zeal and the Holy Spirit's enabling (Zechariah 4:6), no amount of opposition could stop them; they continued their work with renewed enthusiasm, since the Lord's watchful eye was upon them (5:5).

        The Persian governor, Tattenai, wrote a letter to king Darius, but it was not as malicious as the one written later by the internal adversaries of the Jews (4:9-16); nonetheless, it was sent with the hope that Darius would issue a decree to stop the Temple's construction. In the providence of God, Darius found the decree from Cyrus (from a different dynasty) permitting the Jews to rebuild the Temple to their God. This was an important discovery, since the decrees of a king were considered unalterable and were to be honoured and respected (cf. Daniel 6:8). Again, the Lord was at work in the heart of a king (Proverbs 21:1); first Cyrus and now Darius supported the building project of the Temple. Darius even went so far as to command that the tribute due him from that area went toward the building fund. Although he was polytheistic (believing in many gods), Darius had great respect for the God of Israel, and he gives a reason for allowing the Temple to be built: "offer sacrifices... and pray for the [successful and long] life of the king and his sons" (6:10; cf. 1 Timothy 2:1-3; 1 Peter 2:13-15). Darius also declared that if anyone disobeyed his orders, they would be hanged (6:11). This statement was likely directed at Tattenai, who clearly was not in favour of the Jews rebuilding the Temple. The local adversaries (Samaritans) had likely influenced him against the Jews.

        This letter must have come as a surprise to Tattenai, and he had no choice but to obey Darius. The attempts of the enemies were now frustrated. In less than four years from the time of Darius' favourable reply, the Jews completed the Temple because of the Holy Spirit's enabling, the encouragement of the prophets of God, and the aid of the kings, Cyrus and Darius. King Artaxerxes is also given credit by Ezra, since he was the king at the time of Ezra's writing and helped to maintain the Temple (6:14; 7:15-21).

        With great joy, the people dedicated the Temple, and thus the plan of God was accomplished. It is interesting to note that at the dedication service there was no fire from Heaven to consume the sacrifice as there was with the Tabernacle of Moses and the Temple of Solomon; nor was there any great manifestation of divine power, as there had been in the past (e.g. with Moses, Elijah, Elisha, etc.). Also, the high priest no longer had the guidance of the Urim and Thummim to discover the will of God (2:63, no answer came; Exodus 28:30). During this time period of Ezra and Nehemiah, God was gracious to still send a few prophets (Malachi was the last), but then there were approximately four hundred years of silence until God's voice was heard again through John the Baptist (Malachi 3:1; Luke 1:76). The reason for this was that, from the time of Ezra, the children of Israel were to begin using the divine revelation of God's Holy written Word (the Law, and the writings of the prophets) to receive God's guidance and have their hearts stirred and prepared for the coming Messiah. God raised up Ezra for the specific purpose of teaching His Word (tradition also credits Ezra with collecting the Old Testament canon of Scripture as a unit), that it might stir their consciences and speak to their hearts. The children of Israel had come into a new era, the era of the still small voice, wherein they were to learn to more fully walk by faith and not by sight.

        The dedication took place in the month of Adar, the last month of the year (6:15-16), just in time to celebrate the Passover in the first month (6:19; Exodus 12). In accordance with the Law of Moses, the priest, Levites, and lay worshippers sanctified themselves that they might be ceremonially clean (both outwardly and inwardly), in order to partake of the holy meal. They were careful to exclude the sinful, defiled people of the land, since that which is consecrated to God cannot mix with that which is not. In their obedience, the Lord gave them great joy, and they were sure to give the Lord the glory for making it all possible. Truly, with the Lord, everything is possible.

Prayer

        Lord, Your joy is our strength. We celebrate Your goodness. Help us to keep our priorities straight, putting You first and thus enjoying Your success.


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