Oh. Their long wait was over. Seventy long years had ended, along with their exile to Babylon. The Israelites were now free to return home to their country. God had punished them for disobeying and ignoring his commands. So they had been conquered by the Babylonian army and moved to a strange land. Sure. God had spoken through his prophet, Jeremiah, who told them their stay would be only seventy years. And then they would return home. Seventy years seems such a short time once it’s over. But to be a young person at the start of those seven decades was one thing. To be on the back end meant your life had passed you by in a foreign land. Your life was lived not of your choosing. But you were alive. And now you were free to go home. So home they went. They were survivors. They were the chosen remnant.
But when they got home, they realized that others had moved into their land as it stood mostly empty all those years. There were squatters living in their cities. And those squatters had their own way of living. And it didn’t fall in line with what the Israelites knew to be true. So they were at odds. But one thing the Israelites knew was that they had been advised to start rebuilding the temple of God. So they began the work.
But there were those who just couldn’t stand it. The squatters were upset by this new development. Their new neighbors, who rightfully belonged in this city, were rebuilding the temple of God. And the usurpers of the land, those who had moved in while the Israelites were in exile, were upset that the Israelites were obeying God’s command. So the newbies did what immature people do. They tattled on their neighbors. They wrote a letter to the king and demanded that he instruct the Israelites, the chosen people of God, to stop their work on the temple. And their immaturity won out. The king demanded all work on the temple be stopped. And so it did. The Israelites stopped rebuilding the temple. For fifteen years, no more work was done on it.
And then the king died. And the Israelites resumed work on the temple. After all, that was the command they were given when they had returned to their country. Rebuild the temple of God and observe his commands. And yet they hadn’t been able to complete the work. Now was their chance to make things right and finish the temple.
But once again, the newbies complained. They wrote another letter, this time to the new king. And in their second complaint letter, they asked the king to research the court archives to see if there was any reference to work on the temple. Lo and behold! There was. The king told them in no uncertain terms that work was to begin immediately. And he told the newbies that they must pay for all the work. And all the supplies. Anything the Israelites needed to finish the temple was on them. And if they didn’t obey, their lives would be taken from them. Wow. So the newbies bowed to the commands, and the temple was completed.
You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. Genesis 50:20
I’m reminded of the many stories of the Israelites. Year over year, they refused to obey God. They refused to follow his commands. They ignored his threats of punishment and exile. Yet he still loved them. After all, they were his chosen people. But enough was enough. He wanted them to love him and pledge to him their allegiance. Oh sure. They did from time to time. They repented. But their humility and devotion to him was short-lived. And then they went back to living life their way. And when God had finally had it, the Israelites were once and for all defeated and taken as exiles to the foreign land of Babylon. Oh. God had promised this would happen unless they repented. And they never repented. So they were punished. He had promised seventy years of exile in Babylon. And that’s exactly what happened.
But God also knew that those who had defeated his chosen people and taken them prisoner were evil. He knew they needed to be punished for harming his chosen ones. Being against God’s chosen people was the equivalent of being against God. And that’s not a winning combination. So God made sure that eventually the Babylonians were destroyed. All because they defeated the Israelites.
Just know that Satan will always find someone to oppose God’s work. Someone is always gullible enough to do Satan’s bidding. But also. Just know that those who oppose God’s work and give in to Satan’s scheming will be on the list of those punished by God. Oh. God doesn’t forget those who oppose him. If they never repent and confess their sins, they will be exposed on judgment day. Make note of it.
And there’s more.
God had plans for the Israelites who had returned to Babylon. Although their efforts to rebuild the temple were stopped, God knew that the work would eventually be restarted. And so he had his people wait for fifteen long years. But he wasn’t worried. If they had continued the work, they would have paid for it out of their pockets. But by waiting, God turned their enemies plans on their heads. The squatters paid for all the repairs and supplies. The Israelites rebuilt the temple debt free. Thanks to God’s timely planning.
Oh. God doesn’t forget his people in need. When the people of God are being used and abused, he sees it. When his people are being tortured and tormented, he sees their pain. The suffering of God’s followers does not go unnoticed. In due time, God will repay those who harm his people. So when we think we can’t continue on in a state of abuse or oppression, know that our ultimate reward is eternity with God. All suffering will not be in vain. God is our redeemer.