Having been encouraged to look for records to ascertain the legality of what is going on with the rebuild (5.17), Darius made a decree, and a search was made (v.1).
Historically accurate down to the location of the king’s summer palace and the Persian practice of noting down royal decrees on scrolls of parchment or leather (v.2), vv.2-5 give us an overview of what was found. Darius follows up with both permission (vv.6-7) and funding (vv.8-9) for the project, and wishes that prayers be said for his family (v.10). A strong warning and cap is put on the decree (v.11-12), and we see that Darius is serious about what was written.
The temple is then finished (v.15), and the people are encouraged and energised by the presence, prayers, preaching, and prophecies of Haggai and Zechariah (v.14). Edwin Yamauchi writes on this,
“Spurred by the preaching of Haggai and Zechariah, and under the leadership of Zerubbabel and Joshua, a new effort was begun (Haggai 1:12-15).”
The work is finished, then, the temple is dedicated (vv.16-18), and Passover is celebrated (vv.19-21).
Despite everything that has happened to them, despite the temptation to claim the credit or hog the glory for everything that has happened around them, we see that the people still had a right and proper perspective in v.22,
They observed the Feast of Unleavened Bread for seven days with joy, for the Lord had given them joy and had changed the opinion of the king of Assyria toward them so that he assisted them in the work on the temple of God, the God of Israel.
(NET, emphasis added)
The people knew the truth of Proverbs 21.1, that the heart of a king is in the hand of the Lord, and He turns it wherever he wants, and that He had given them joy.
Whilst it may have been easy to claim credit or hog the glory – ‘Wow, through my preaching the people are energised, focused, and on task’ – the people and the leaders knew that the Lord had given them joy, and that the Lord had changed the opinion of the king…toward them. They knew that they ought to be praying for those in power and/or leadership over them (v.10, cf. 1 Timothy 2.1-4) because real change, real credit, and the real glory belongs not to them or to their leaders, but to the One who directs all our steps.
The same is true for you and me today; rather than claim credit, rather than hog glory, rather than try to influence those in leadership to make decisions that we may feel are good, we ought to be praying to the One in whose hands is the heart of the king (Proverbs 21.1). We ought to be praying for those in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way, because this is pleasing in the sight of God our Saviour (1 Timothy 2.2-3).
Who can you pray for today?