This post will examine the necessity for the faithful servants of God not to give up or to give out before completing the work He has set before us by examining the events that happened when the Israelite captives had been freed by King Cyrus in 537 B.C.E and they and the exiles had returned to their then desolate homeland.
We will first examine the restoration promises God had made through the prophets; first looking at the time periods the prophesies were made, when they were fulfilled, and how important to their fulfillment was due-diligence on the part of His people.
Finally, we will look at the experience of one key player, High Priest Joshua, and how the devil resisted him with allegations of unworthiness.
The Restoration Promises
Important in understanding the restoration prophesies found in the Old Testament is dating when they were written and the circumstances that existed when they were written.
Below is a list of Bible Books that contain restoration promises God made:
The Book Of Deuteronomy written between 15th and 7th centuries B.C.E.
The Book of Psalms written between the 10th and 9th centuries B.C.E.
The Book of Isaiah written 740-701 B.C.E.
The Book of Lamentations written 587-575 B.C.E.
The Book of Ezekiel written 593-573 B.C.E.
The Book of Jeremiah written 630-580 B.C.E.
The book of Amos written 788-743 B.C.E.
Please note the time periods in which these Books were written. The date are very important in understanding the fulfillment of the restoration promises.
The prophetic writings in these Books detail two things. God promises that He would both free the Israelites from captive bondage and that He would restore the land.
These two events are the basis for the restoration promises mentioned in all of the Bible Books listed above.
The Israelites were taken into bondage by the gentile King Nebuchadnezzar. The bondage officially began when faithful king Josiah’s son, Jehoahaz was dethroned and taken into captivity around 606 B.C.E. This began the 70 year long captivity God promised due to the nations transgressions.
As stated earlier, the captivity ended precisely 70 years after in 537 B.C.E when the Persian king Cyrus overthrew the Babylonian Empire in a daring night raid.
The foretold 70 years of desolation began later at the destruction of Jerusalem in 587 B.C.E.
The desolation was then set to end approximately in the year 517 B.C.E. However something happened after the people returned to their homeland that put the restoration of the land in jeopardy.
Upon returning home, the returning Israelites were very quick to rebuild their individual home while neglecting to rebuild the Temple, the House of God.
This was an important development since the rebuilding of the Temple was prerequisite to God ending the period of desolation and restoring the land.
In fact, King Cyrus had made a decree to the effect that the freed captives were to return home and immediately begin to rebuild the Temple of God:
“Thus says Cyrus king of Persia, ‘The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth and He has appointed me to build Him a house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Whoever there is among you of all His people, may his God be with him! Let him go up to Jerusalem which is in Judah and rebuild the house of the Lord, the God of Israel; He is the God who is in Jerusalem.”
However, once the people had rebuilt their private homes, they felt self-satisfied and begged off from rebuilding the Temple as commanded. It would be over 14 years later before construction began or about 521 B.C.E.
God became vex toward them for their failure.
Begging Off Before Completing the Lord’s Work
According to the Book of Haggai, God confronted them by sending His prophet to then governor Zerubbabel to say:
1 In the second year of Darayavush the king, in the sixth month, in the first day of the month, the word of the LORD came by Haggai, the prophet, to Zerubbabel, the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua, the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, saying,
2 “This is what the LORD of hosts says: These people say, ‘The time hasn’t yet come, the time for the LORD’s house to be built.’”
3 Then the word of the LORD came by Haggai, the prophet, saying,
4 “Is it a time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, while this house lies waste?
But they seemed to be oblivious to the fact that although they had rebuilt their homes, they were still in want because the land was still unproductive. Note what He says through the prophet:
Haggai 1:5, 6
5 Now therefore this is what the LORD of hosts says: Consider your ways.
6 You have sown much, and bring in little. You eat, but you do not have enough. You drink, but you aren’t filled with drink. You clothe yourselves, but no one is warm, and he who earns wages earns wages to put them into a bag with holes in it.”
He goes on to tell Zerubbabel what is necessary to remedy their plight:
Haggai 1:7, 8
7 This is what the LORD of hosts says: “Consider your ways.
8 Go up to the mountain, bring wood, and build the house. I will take pleasure in it, and I will be glorified,” says the LORD.
It wasn’t that they were not trying to sustain themselves; that was their problem. It was God that was thwarting any effort they attempted to make.
9 “You looked for much, and, look, it came to little; and when you brought it home, I blew it away. Why?” says the LORD of hosts, “Because of my house that lies waste, while each of you is busy with his own house.
10 Therefore for your sake the heavens withhold the dew, and the earth withholds its fruit.
11 I called for a drought on the land, and on the mountains, and on the grain, and on the new wine, on the oil, and on all what the ground produces, and on men, and on livestock, and on all the labor of the hands.”
When Zerubbabel heard this, he repented. He repented, as well as the High Priest, and all of the remnant who returned became obedient to the word of Jehovah.
12 Then Zerubbabel, the son of Shealtiel, and Joshua, the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, with all the remnant of the people, obeyed the voice of the LORD, their God, and the words of Haggai, the prophet, as the LORD, their God, had sent him; and the people feared the LORD.
13 Then Haggai, the LORD’s messenger, spoke the LORD’s message to the people, saying, “I am with you,” says the LORD.
14 The LORD stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel, the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and the spirit of Joshua, the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and the spirit of all the remnant of the people; and they came and worked on the house of the LORD of hosts, their God,
15 in the twenty-fourth day of the month, in the sixth month, in the second year of Darayavush the king.
In what is recorded in Haggai chapter two tell us that God place His hand of anointment on both Zerubbabel and Joshua the High Priest due to their faithfulness.
1 In the seventh month, in the twenty-first day of the month, the word of the LORD came by Haggai the prophet, saying,
2 “Speak now to Zerubbabel, the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua, the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and to the remnant of the people, saying,
3 ‘Who is left among you who saw this house in its former glory? How do you see it now? Isn’t it in your eyes as nothing?
4 Yet now be strong, Zerubbabel,’ says the LORD. ‘Be strong, Joshua, son of Jehozadak, the high priest. Be strong, all you people of the land,’ says the LORD, ‘and work, for I am with you,’ says the LORD of hosts.
5 This is the word that I covenanted with you when you came out of Egypt, and my Spirit lived among you. ‘Do not be afraid.’
He continues by telling them that he will bless them and their obedience would bring blessings for the people and the land.
Haggai 2:6-9, 23
6 For this is what the LORD of hosts says: ‘Yet once more, it is a little while, and I will shake the heavens and the earth a and the sea and the dry land;
7 and I will shake all nations, and they will come with the treasures of all nations, and I will fill this house with glory, says the LORD of hosts.
8 The silver is mine, and the gold is mine,’ says the LORD of hosts.
9 ‘The latter glory of this house will be greater than the former,’ says the LORD of hosts; ‘and in this place will I give peace,’ says the LORD of hosts.”
23 In that day, says the LORD of hosts, will I take you, Zerubbabel, my servant, the son of Shealtiel,’ says the LORD, ‘and will make you as a signet, for I have chosen you,’ says the LORD of hosts.”
High Priest Joshua would come attack by Satan himself because of his repentance from disobedience to God. Satan would challenge Joshua’s worthiness in a vision played out in Heaven before the throne of God. Let’s turn our attention to the Book of Zechariah Chapter 3.
The prophet Zechariah had an most usual vision of a scene acted out in Heaven. This is what he saw:
Zechariah 3:1, 2
1 He showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to be his adversary.
2 The LORD said to Satan, “The LORD rebuke you, Satan. Yes, the LORD who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you. Isn’t this a burning stick plucked out of the fire?”
The prophet sees God anointed High Priest and he see the devil standing beside him as his adversary. The bible tells us that Satan is the false accuser of our brothers. (Revelation 12:10)
Well, this is what he is poised to do in regard to Joshua by declaring Joshua is unclean given his past sin and therefore, he unworthy of the service God has entrusted him with.
In verse two, God has already rebuked Satan. Then Jehovah God poses a question to the devil. He ask Satan, ” Isn’t this a burning stick plucked out of the fire?’
In the vision, Joshua is described as being in unclean clothes:
3 Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments, and was standing before the angel.
But God has obviously forgiven Joshua as the next verses reveal:
4 He answered and spoke to those who stood before him, saying, “Take the filthy garments off of him.” To him he said, “Look, I have caused your iniquity to pass from you, and I will clothe you with rich clothing.”
5 I said, “Let them set a clean turban on his head.” So they set a clean turban on his head, and clothed him; and the angel of the LORD was standing by.
Satan was calling impure what God had made clean. Many today will not accept those God has anointed bringing up prior sins that God has forgiven them for. While they are unforgiving, God is not to those who truly repent as High Priest Joshua did. Such people put their judgments above God’s. But it is God’s judgment that matters.
Jesus said this:
“When Jesus heard it, he saith unto them, They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”
The righteous angel of God who was also present, reminds Joshua that he must continue to be faithful and to walk in righteousness in order to be worthy to continue in God’s service and keep his garments clean.
6 The angel of the LORD protested to Joshua, saying,
7 “Thus says the LORD of hosts: ‘If you will walk in my ways, and if you will follow my instructions, then you also shall judge my house, and shall also keep my courts, and I will give you a place of access among these who stand by.
8 Hear now, Joshua the high priest, you and your fellows who sit before you; for they are men who are a sign: for, look, I will bring forth my servant, the Branch.
9 For, look, the stone that I have set before Joshua; on one stone are seven eyes: look, I will engrave its engraving,’ says the LORD of hosts, ‘and I will remove the iniquity of that land in one day.
10 In that day,’ says the LORD of hosts, ‘you will invite every man his neighbor under the vine and under the fig tree.’”
Satan became upset when he couldn’t stop God’s temple from being rebuilt. Faithfulness to God irritates the devil. He had done everything he could to stop the Temple from being reconstructed. Everything from creating a spirit of self-satisfaction among the returned remnant to using organized groups to undermine attempts to rebuild.
The Restoration Promises
God fulfilled the promises he made to restore the nation of Israel when he brought the Israelites out of Babylonian bondage in 537 B.C.E. and when He restored the land to productivity in 517 B.C.E. There is no commitment to a future restoration of a physical Jewish nation despite the teaching by many that the Bible promises one. All the Old Testament restoration prophecies were written prior to the 537 B.C.E. release from captivity and well before the restoration of the desolate land in 517 B.C.E.
The restoration promises mentioned in New Testament scriptures have to do with all humankind.
“Do Not Call Anything Impure That God Has Made Clean”
It is God who declares who is righteous and who is unrighteous. While other human beings may put themselves in judgment they are not in the judgment seat of God. God has given that authority to the eternal High Priest Jesus Christ. The devil remains the false accuser of God’s children and attacks them trying to stop them from finishing the work that God has set before them to accomplish.
Do not allow the devil, his angels, nor his wicked human seed to judge you or impede you from fully accomplishing the will of God.
“Yet there are some in the church in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes with evil. They will walk with me in white, for they are worthy.”