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    March 26, 1902

    “Restoration from Babylon. Troublous Times” The Signs of the Times 28, 13, pp. 3, 4.

    BY ALONZO TREVIER JONE

    IT seems to have been about midsummer, or late in the summer of B. C. 536, when the returned of isarel arrived in their own country, and had taken up their abode and dwelt in their cities; for their first assembly at Jerusalem for worship was at the regular annual feast of the memorial of blowing of trumpets on the first day of the seventh month.SITI March 26, 1902, page 3.1

    On that day “the people gathered themselves together as one man to Jerusalem;” and under the direction of Joshua, the high priest, and Zerubbabel, and their brethren, they “builded the altar of the God of Israel, to offer burnt offerings thereon, as it is written in the law of Moses the man of God. And they set the altar upon his bases; for fear was upon them because of the people of those countries: and they offered burnt offerings thereon unto the Lord, even burnt offerings morning and evening.” Ezra 3:1-3.SITI March 26, 1902, page 3.2

    They could not celebrate the day of atonement—the tenth day of the seventh month—in that order, because there was not temple of house yet built; but they kept the Feast of Tabernacles (the fifteenth to the twenty-second of the seventh month), as it is written, and offered the daily burnt-offerings by number, according to the custom, as the duty of every day required; and afterward offered the continual burnt-offering, both of the new moons, and of all the set feasts of the Lord that were consecrated, and of every one that willingly offered a free-will offering unto the Lord. From the first day of the seventh month began they to offer burnt-offerings unto the Lord.SITI March 26, 1902, page 3.3

    “But the foundation of the temple of the Lord was not yet laid.” However, preparations were immediately begun for the building of the temple. Masons and carpenters were regularly employed, and set to work to prepare the stones and timber. They also established with Tyre and Zidon trade of provisions—food, drink, and oil—for cedar trees for the temple, to be brought from Lebanon by sea and delivered at Joppa, “according to the grant that they had of Cyrus king of Persia.”SITI March 26, 1902, page 3.4

    This work of preparation continued till “the second month” of the “second year of their coming unto the house of God at Jerusalem,” when they actually began work in building the temple.SITI March 26, 1902, page 3.5

    “And when the builders laid the foundation of the temple of the Lord, they set the priests in their apparel with trumpets, and the Levites the sons of Asaph with cymbals, to praise the Lord, after the ordinance of David king of Israel. And they sang together by course in praising and giving thanks unto the Lord; because he is good, for his mercy endureth for ever toward Israel.SITI March 26, 1902, page 3.6

    “And all the people shouted with a great shout, when they praised the Lord, because the foundation of the house of the Lord was laid. But many of the priests and Levites and chief of the fathers, who were ancient men, that had seen the first house, when the foundation of this house was laid before their eyes, wept with a loud voice; and many shouted aloud for joy: so that the people could not discern the noise of the shout of joy from the noise of the weeping of the people: for the people shouted with a loud shout, and the noise was heard afar off.”SITI March 26, 1902, page 3.7

    In Gabriel’s explanation of the two thousand and three hundred days, he had said to Daniel of the rebuilding of Jerusalem, that “the street shall be built again and the wall, even in troublous times.” And now those troublous times began. Satan was determined to hinder, in every way that he possibly could, the establishment of the work of God in Jerusalem. He found ready instruments, in the mixed people and religion of Samaria, that had resulted form the successive transportations by Sargon, Esar-haddon, and Asshur bani-pal, kings of Assyria, before 625 B. C. As soon as the Jews had begun to build, these mixed peoples of the land of Samaria devised a scheme so to turn to their own advantage the rebuilding of Jerusalem that, by alliance with the Jews, they could fix their power in Jerusalem and the land of Judah, as in Samaria, execute a successful revolt, set up an independent kingdom there, and dominate all the territory between the Euphrates and the Mediterranean Sea, as had been done in old time.SITI March 26, 1902, page 3.8

    Accordingly when they had “heard that the children of the captivity builded the temple unto the Lord God of Israel; then they came to Zerubbabel, and to the chief of the fathers, and said unto them, Let us build with you: for we seek your God, as ye do; and we do sacrifice unto him since the days of Esarhaddon king of Assur, which brought us up hither. But Zerubbabel, and Jeshua, and the rest of the chief of the fathers of Israel, said unto them, Ye have nothing to do with us to build an house unto our God; but we ourselves together will build unto the Lord God of Israel, as king Cyrus the king of Persia hath commanded us.”SITI March 26, 1902, page 3.9

    Then the Samaritans revealed their real spirit from the beginning, and showed that their interest in the God of Israel, and their “kind” offer to help in building the temple and city, was a sheer pretense to hide their rebellious intent; they “weakened the hands of the people of Judah, and troubled them in building, and hired counsellors against them [at the court of the Persian kingdom], to frustrate their purpose, all the days of Cyrus king of Persia, even until the reign of Darius king of Persia,” a period of fourteen years.SITI March 26, 1902, page 3.10

    The situation was this: The Jews and the decree of Cyrus to sustain them in all that they were doing. The Samaritans knew that it was vain to try to get that decree reversed while Cyrus lived. But the funds for the building work must all pass through the imperial treasury. Those hired counselors were officials of the court and council of Cyrus, who accepted from the Samaritans bribes to be on the watch for the affairs concerning Jerusalem, and block every procedure possible. They could hold back the supply of funds; they could delay the official applications for funds; by empty technicalities they could force tedious correspondence and delay in reports; they could prevent correspondence and even messengers from reaching Cyrus, of even Daniel—in a thousand ways they could frustrate the purpose of the builders at Jerusalem.SITI March 26, 1902, page 3.11

    Daniel was still prime minister at the court of Persia, and it was not a great while before he discovered that the work in Jerusalem was being hindered, and his own efforts hampered in the court of Cyrus, by influences and actions so subtle that it was impossible definitely to expose of successfully to check them. This caused him again great and anxious concern for the work of God. Yet he spent no time in attempting to arrange, or to carry on any counter-intrigue; he appealed direct to God.SITI March 26, 1902, page 3.12

    By those hired counselors, the Samaritans had got their schemes to working at the court of Cyrus in the latter part of the second year of Cyrus. On the third day of the first month of the third year of Cyrus, Daniel began his appeal to God in fasting and mourning and prayer. This he continued three full weeks, before he was positively informed that his appeal was heard. Yet his appeal was heard, the very first day. but the adverse influences at the Persian court were so strong that Gabriel dared not leave the presence of the king. and those adverse influences were just then so determined and so persistent that every possible thing was done, every conceivable device was employed, and every moment of the time was occupied, during the whole of that three weeks, in the endeavor to turn Cyrus from his true course and to frustrate the purpose of God concerning Jerusalem. To defeat the subtle devices and continued efforts of the enemy, Gabriel must be ever watchful. He continued thus three full weeks. Daniel continued his earnest praying. Still the angel could not leave the presence of the king. Yet Daniel’s prayer must be answered by Gabriel in person. It was a crisis in the cause of God in the earth. then Michael, the first of the heavenly princes, came to help him. This secured victory, the enemy’s siege was broken, and Gabriel went to Daniel by the river Tigris.SITI March 26, 1902, page 3.13

    His own words in explanation of the three weeks delay are these: “Fear not, Daniel: for from the first day that thou didst set thine heart to understand, and to chasten thyself before thy God, thy words were heard, and I am come for thy words. But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me one and twenty days: but, lo, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me; and I remained there with the kings of Persia. Now I am come to make thee understand what shall befall thy people in the latter days: for yet the vision is for many days.... Knowest thou wherefore I come unto thee? and now will I return to fight with the prince of Persia.... But I will show thee that which is noted in the Scripture of truth: and there is none that holdeth with me in these things, but Michael your prince.” Daniel 10:2-4, 12, 13, 20, 21. Verse 12, margin and Luther’s Translation.SITI March 26, 1902, page 3.14

    Thus, through prayer and faithfulness to God, Daniel and his people were victorious against all the machinations of Satan and his instrumentalities. And so shall it ever be. The heavenly agencies are always ready to co-operate with the faithful ones of earth to-day, as in the days of Daniel, Joshua, Zerubbabel, and their companions. Prayer to God, that obtains the co-operation of heavenly messengers, is even to-day worth infinitely more in securing the co-operation or restraint of the powers of earth, than could be all the political wire-pulling and lobbying that could ever be employed. The hearts of kings are in the hand of the Lord, and only He can move them right.SITI March 26, 1902, page 3.15

    Daniel must have died shortly after this vision, for in the vision the last words of the angel are, “Thou shalt rest, and stand in thy lot at the end of the days.” Cyrus lived five years longer. But tho the Samaritans and their hired counselors continued all this time their work of weakening the hands of the Jews of hindering them and frustrating their purpose in building, they never succeeded in stopping the work. The “victory” of Daniel and the heavenly ones still “kept” with Cyrus the king of Persia, tho the work went on still in “troublous times.”SITI March 26, 1902, page 3.16

    [The next paper in this series is, “The Success of the Samaritans.”]SITI March 26, 1902, page 3.17

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