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Neither Snow Nor Rain ...

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey
The Truth Network Radio
November 2, 2023 12:00 am

Neither Snow Nor Rain ...

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey

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November 2, 2023 12:00 am

Listen to or read the full-length version here -   Neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor gloom of night, nor persecution, nor trial, nor height, nor depth, nor the opposition of rulers, nor the sin of nations, nor the power of Satan, nor any other thing can keep the Sovereign of the universe from fully completing His supreme design and His perfect plan. How's that for a postal service motto! In this message Stephen reminds us that when God makes a promise . . . He always delivers!


Kerwin Baptist
Kerwin Baptist Church
Kerwin Baptist
Kerwin Baptist Church

Our product is free for the asking. Our CEO was born in a small town, worked as a carpenter, didn't own a home, was misunderstood by his family, hated by his enemies, walked on water, was condemned to death without a fair trial, and then arose from the dead.

Isn't that good? No pull punches, just, here's who I really am, and this is who we are. We should be more than the vocation that takes our time. You're more than a computer operator.

I am more than a preacher. We are the servants of the God of heaven and the God of earth. In the days of Ezra, the people of Israel were asked to give an account for what they were doing.

In their reply, they made a bold and simple proclamation. We are the servants of the God of heaven. What are we doing? We're simply serving God. That simple statement defines how you should live. Being a servant of God should shape and characterize everything about you.

Does it? Today on Wisdom for the Heart, Stephen Davey continues through his series in the book of Ezra. He has a message for you today called, Neither Snow Nor Rain.

Let's get started. There was a Persian king by the name of Darius. He had an administrative priority. It was called the highway. Thousands of miles of paved roads wound their way between major cities within his vast empire. It was called the highway because it was higher by virtue of those stone pavers and other hard surface materials that created a smooth road along which to travel. The low road or the byway, the old King James word of the hedge was simply the common ordinary path somewhere nearby upon which the ordinary common people rode. But if you were wealthy enough to pay the toll, you could ride on the highway. If you were common and ordinary and didn't have the money, you rode on the low way. If I could jump into the New Testament for just a moment, you might remember that Jesus Christ referred to his kingdom plan as a plan that required us to go out into the highways and the byways and invite them in to fill the master's house. In other words, go out to those who are wealthy and go out to those who are common and ordinary.

There is no class distinction within the kingdom. Now, in the days of King Darius, the highway was created primarily because he wanted to keep in touch with his empire. It would be along that paved road that his royal couriers would travel. A Persian courier, I read, could travel around 240 miles a day, primarily because King Darius had built every 15 miles along that royal highway places he called postal stations. And that was where these couriers could mount a fresh horse and gallop off again on that highway, galloping, which was made much more efficient by another of Darius's inventions we know as the horseshoe. It would take a wagon three months to travel the distance of a Persian courier that they could travel in one day. So impressive was the Persian mail system that Herodotus, the historian, coined the well-known saying in honor of Darius's system that is still the motto for us today, the motto that says, neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor gloom of night can stay these couriers from the completion of their appointed rounds. It is the same Darius, by the way, who wrote and received some letters that had have been preserved for us and translated for us to study thousands of years later.

Let's take a look at what some of those couriers carried in their pouches as they sped along the highway. Let's start with chapter 5, verse 1, not so much with letters from the king, but sermons from some prophets. Verse 1 of chapter 5, when the prophets Haggai, the prophet in Zechariah, the son of Edo, prophesied to the Jews who were in Judah and Jerusalem in the name of the God of Israel who was over them. Then Zerubbabel, the son of Shealtel, and Jeshua, the son of Josadak, arose and began to rebuild the house of God which is in Jerusalem. And the prophets of God were with them supporting them. Now you just saw the names of two prophets that you probably recognize.

They have books named after them where their sermons were compiled, the books of Haggai and Zechariah. If you read those sermons, you would discover that these prophets preached to not only the consciences but the emotions and the hearts of the people. And the truth was the people had abandoned the call of God and the work of God for now some 15 years.

And we know from the sermons of Haggai and Zechariah that they had become more interested in their own things, building their own homes, planting their own vineyards, feathering their own nests. And so the house of God was ignored. And so they came along basically and began to preach a message of priority, a message that is still preached today. It was a message delivered to the New Testament by Jesus Christ who said himself, seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things shall be added to you. Well, the prophets not only preached a message of priority, but they provided a model of partnership. You notice that they stayed with the people, the latter part of that text tells us, and helped them rebuild the temple of God.

Now notice verse three. At that time, Tatani, the governor of the province beyond the river, and Shethar Bozani and their colleagues came to them and spoke to them thus, who issued you a decree to rebuild this temple and to finish the structure? Then we told them accordingly what the names of the men who were reconstructing this building. Now you can imagine how intimidating this would have been. Give us the names of the men involved.

Tell us who they are. And notice the key verse that gives us the motivation of God's providence. Look at verse five. But the eye of their God was on the elders of the Jews and they did not stop them until a report should come to Darius and then a written reply be returned concerning it. Now what does that mean the eye of their God was on them? Wasn't God's eye on them 15 years earlier when they first encountered opposition?

Yes. The difference is now they are banking on it. Now they are motivated by it. Now they are counting on that truth of providence that God is watching them. God knows everything about them.

And that is to be the motivation, ladies and gentlemen, for you and I as well. God sees us. God knows us. In fact, God indwells us. Nothing passes by His eye. He sees everything. Now that can do a couple of different things for us, can't it?

On the one hand, it can be very encouraging. God sees you. God sees me.

But on the other hand, it can be terribly convicting. God sees you. God sees me. Right?

Depending on what kind of life you are living. As I was studying this text and thinking about the fact that God was watching, I recalled something that I had forgotten. It happened a long time ago when my brothers and I were younger. We spent just about every Friday night downtown Norfolk at the Christian Servicemen Center. I do remember that part. But some of the activities came back to me. My father would teach the Bible to about 20, 30, 40 sailors who would show up on Friday night.

And my mom would play the piano. And then, man, the soda fountain. That's one of the reasons we didn't mind going. All the free drinks we wanted and cookies made by women in churches surrounding that area. But one of the things that the other missionary kids and my older brother especially and I would do, one of our favorite things was to climb out this third story window that emptied out onto the roof of the building. And those downtown buildings, you can just imagine they were flat.

They were made out of that rock and tar. And we'd climb out there and do a number of different things I won't mention. But one of the things that we did was we'd go over to the ledge, a little ledge built up of brick. And we would look down over and we would watch the sailors on those Friday nights as they'd go back and forth. And all the activity back in those days, Norfolk being a Navy town on a Friday night was just jam-packed with sailors and their whites and their caps.

And very different now. But they had built across the street one of those, we called them then, X-rated theaters right across from the back entrance of the servicemen center. And so we could look out over the street between the center and that they had the triple X's on that theater. We'd take a stack of tracks up to the ledge that were printed on one side to look like a $5 bill. And on the other side, the gospel. And we'd crumple them up so just the $5 bill was exposed. And we'd throw them over the side and then we'd watch as these guys, we saw the funniest reactions. Some of them weren't too pleasant when they opened that up and discovered. And I was thinking about this this past week. I guess we were involved, us missionary kids, in what you could call counterfeit evangelism.

About the best way to say it. Well, one of the things that I remember, and I remember it vividly, was watching one night one lone sailor as he walked down the street by himself and he walked up to the door of that theater and he reached out for the handle and then he stopped. And he looked this way, he looked that way, looked over his shoulder. And he reached for the door again and the thought came across me and I did it. I just, as he reached for it, I yelled down at him, I see you!

He took off, ruined that guy's week probably. Hey, I just considered that part of my early ministry, okay? You tell a believer, or an unbeliever, who by the way doesn't appreciate it either, God sees you, he's watching you in the classroom, in the shop, at work, in the neighborhood, at night, he sees you. That can be wonderfully encouraging, as Peter intended it to be when he said that the eyes of God watch those who are righteous and his ears are open to their prayers.

But those who don't live for him, that is not encouraging. Well, it's time for the first letter to be handed here to the Persian courier. He gallops away, here's the letter he carried, bound for the king himself, verse 6. This is the copy of the letter which Tatani, the governor of the province beyond the river, and his colleagues who were beyond the river sent to take him to Darius. Look at verse 7.

They sent a report to him in which it was written thus, to Darius the king, all peace, let it be known to the king that we have gone to the province of Judah, to the house of the great God, which is being built with huge stones, and beams are being laid in the walls, and this work is going on with great care and is succeeding in their hands. Stop for a moment. Not only is God watching them, not only does God watch you, but others do as well.

Whoever said no one's watching you, you better believe they are watching you. In fact, look back here at what is really nothing more than a review performed by the unbeliever on the work ethic of the believer. Look at verse 8. Let it be known to the king that we have gone to the province of Judah, to the house of the great God.

Did you catch that? The great God. How did these pagans know he was a great God?

They could tell because of the kind of building they were building for this God. It's being built, it says, with huge stones and beams are being laid in the walls. Now notice, and this work is going on with great care. That is, this isn't some quick job. This isn't some sloppy effort at work. They are doing this carefully with tremendous quality. And finally, the work is succeeding, the text says. It is excellent.

It is effective in their hands. Ladies and gentlemen, have you ever thought about the fact that how you work out there testifies loudly to what you say you believe in here? The quality of your work says a lot about the quality of your walk. The excellence of your handiwork communicates your view of the excellence of your Heavenly Father.

It doesn't matter if you're driving a nail or placing a brick or working with a tool of some sort or filling teeth or repairing an automobile or working with a computer. Whatever it might be, your work tells people what you think of your God. It was succeeding in their hands. They're not just watching, though. They're also listening.

Look at verse 9. Then we asked those elders and said to them thus, who issued you a decree to rebuild this temple and finish this structure? We also asked them their names so as to inform you and that we might write down the names of the men who are at their heads.

Now this is where it really gets intimidating. Who's given you the right to do this? And by the way, we want names. We want to write down the names of everybody involved in this project because we're going to tell King Darius. So who are you?

This answer is so wonderful. They not only gave them their names, but this categorical phrase of response said, We are the servants of the God of heaven and earth and are rebuilding the temple that was built many years ago, which a great king of Israel built and finished. They answered, We are the servants of the God of heaven and earth. So if you're going to tell the king on us, tell them that we happen to be serving this great God who is not only the God of heaven, but the God of planet Earth.

I love that. No pulled punches, no fear of reprisal by some paranoid king who's going to be upset that somebody is invading his turf. Just simply, we serve the God of heaven and earth. This past week, I received a journal in the mail, and it had articles of individuals' testimonies out in the working community. And one was a testimony of Russ Blowers, who is active in the Indianapolis Rotary Club. And each week, in the meetings where several hundred people gather in this particular club, they ask one person in each meeting, and many have never had the chance, but to just stand and introduce themselves and then say something about the corporation that they represent. And Russ Blowers was asked, and they recorded his answer, quote, I am a member of a global enterprise. We have branches in every country of the world. We have representatives in nearly every parliament and boardroom on earth. Our corporation operates hospitals, feeding stations, crisis pregnancy centers, universities, publishing houses, and nursing homes.

We care for our clients from birth till death. Our original organizer owns all the real estate on earth, plus an assortment of galaxies and constellations. He knows everything. He lives everywhere.

Our product is free for the asking. Our CEO was born in a small town, worked as a carpenter, didn't own a home, was misunderstood by his family, hated by his enemies, walked on water, was condemned to death without a fair trial, and then arose from the dead. And I talk to him every day.

Isn't that good? No pull punches, just here's who I really am. And this is who we are. We should be more than the vocation that takes our time. You're more than a computer operator. I am more than a preacher. We are the servants of the God of heaven and the God of earth. Now, this letter also reveals not only their testimony of courage, but the testimony of their sin was confessed. Verse 12, but because your fathers had provoked the God of heaven to wrath, he gave them into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, the Chaldean, who destroyed this temple and deported the people of Babylon. In other words, there's no denial here. There's no, well, we've just been away from home for a while and we're back now and things were a little rough before and we're back.

No, no, no, no, no. We sinned against God and we paid the consequences for our sin. However, verse 13, in the first year of Cyrus, king of Babylon, king Cyrus issued a decree to rebuild this house of God and also the gold and silver utensils of the house of God, which Nebuchadnezzar had taken from the temple in Jerusalem and brought them to the temple of Babylon. These king Cyrus took from the temple of Babylon and they were given to one whose name was Sheshbazar.

That's the Persian name for Zerubbabel, whom he had appointed governor. And he said to him, take these utensils, go and deposit them in the temple of Jerusalem and let the house of God be rebuilt in its place. Then that Sheshbazar came and laid the foundations of the house of God in Jerusalem.

And from then until now it has been under construction and it is not yet completed. And now if it pleases the king, let a search be conducted in the king's treasure house, which is there in Babylon. If it be that a decree was issued by king Cyrus to rebuild this house of God at Jerusalem and let the king send to us his decision concerning the matter. Now mind you, while these couriers are speeding back and forth, the Israelites have not stopped building this time.

They know the eye of God is upon them. And they are courageously building until they hear the response, which comes in chapter 6, verse 1. Then king Darius issued a decree and search was made in the archives where the treasures were stored in Babylon and in Ecbatana in the fortress, which is in the province of Media. A scroll was found and there was written in it as follows, memorandum. In the first year of king Cyrus, Cyrus the king issued a decree concerning the house of God at Jerusalem, let the temple, the place where sacrifices are offered be rebuilt and let its foundations be retained.

We're going to stop reading the memo at this point. But maybe you're thinking like I was thinking, how in the world could Darius put his hands on a memo from a previous administration? Well, history reveals that the Near Eastern kingdoms were famous for their record keeping systems. The Persians kept tablets and scrolls and marked them with labeling devices so that they could put their hands on them going back hundreds of years.

The system was so efficient that Alexander the Great adopted the Persian system for his own library in Alexandria. So somehow they had a system where they could put their hands on this memorandum. So once Darius reads that Cyrus had indeed allowed the rebuilding of the temple, another royal courier is now taking his response back to Jerusalem, and this is what the response letter said, verse 6. Now therefore, Tatani, governor of the province beyond the river, Shethar, Bozani, and your colleagues, the officials of the provinces beyond the river, keep away from there. Leave this work on the house of God alone.

That's about when Tatani asked for his spectacles so he could read more carefully. Let the governor of the Jews and the elders of the Jews rebuild this house of God on its site. The words leave this work literally stated, keep your distance. Can you imagine the shock that this letter produced among the governors and the leader?

They wanted it stopped. They were invading their territory, and now the king responds, stay away from them. For Governor Tatani, it gets worse, verse 8. Moreover, I issue a decree, now I'm going to add to it, concerning what you are to do for these elders of Judah in the rebuilding of this house of God. The full cost is to be paid to these people from the royal treasury out of the taxes of the provinces beyond the river, that is your province, and that without delay. Now, men and women, county taxes are underwriting the entire project. There's more, verse 9. And whatever is needed, that is for corporate worship, both young bulls, rams, lambs, for a burnt offering for the God of heaven, and wheat, salt, wine, and anointing oil, as the priests in Jerusalem requisitioned them, it is to be given to them daily without fail, that they may offer an acceptable sacrifice to the God of heaven.

This is amazing. To fully understand what this meant to the Jewish people would be to apply something like this happening for us in our building project down the street. Imagine, Town of Cary inspectors, stay away from that site. Town of Cary Council, take note.

Anything Colonial wants to build, let them build, and take Cary taxes and underwrite the entire project without delay. Amen? Praise God? Hallelujah! Don't get too excited, hear it. Well, maybe our prayers are a little short.

Can you imagine the Jews have been sort of pummeled and beaten down, they start the work, they're discouraged, it stops, and now they get a letter from Darius that says, the whole thing is paid for. Tat and I, you pick up the tab. What a swear word. I'm so sorry. I'm so sorry. I'm so sorry. I'm so sorry. I'm so sorry. I'm so sorry.

I'm so sorry. What a switch. But then the king adds this very interesting personal phrase, middle part of verse 10, and pray, that is ask them to pray for the life of the king and his sons.

Now that is, that's icing on the cake here. The king says, while you're at it, Mr. Tat and I, would you tell those Jews to pray to their God for me and my boys? Is there somebody in your life, and you wondered if they'd ever changed their attitude about God or toward you, if they would ever soften up to the gospel, a son or a daughter, a parent, a spouse, a neighbor, a boss. You have even found yourself thinking, well, even God can't change their mind. Well, I imagine that for all of the Jews, they would have never imagined that Darius would return a response. At best, they were hoping that Darius would say, just let them do it. Not, let them do it and pay for it, stay out of their way, and then would you have them pray for me?

Pray for me. Wow. Well, then he does a kingly thing here. He threatens verse 11, and I issue a decree that any man who violates this edict, a timber shall be drawn from his house and he shall be impaled on it.

And his house shall be made a refuse heap on account of this. That lets us know he probably didn't become a believer. But would Darius do something like this? Well, we know from history that he impaled 3,000 Babylonians who resisted his throne. This form of execution could have been literally driving a beam or a wooden pole through a person's body and then anchoring the pole in the ground. Or it could be a reference to crucifixion, which was another Persian invention.

Invented to take a person's life while raised above what they considered sacred earth so as to not defile their goddess earth with the death of the criminal. Darius was deadly serious. Verse 12, and may the God who has caused his name to dwell there overthrow any king or people who attempts to change it so as to destroy this house of God in Jerusalem. I, Darius, have issued this decree. Let it be carried out with all diligence. I love the next verse. Then Tatani, the governor of the province beyond the river Shethar, Bosni, and their colleagues carried out the decree with all diligence. I bet they did. Darius' motto for his royal couriers, or it came to be from Herodotus, neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.

And I would have to say no. That's really more like a description of God's will. I see in these ancient letters a divine postscript, a little P.S.

for us. Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night will hinder the full and final completion of God's will. Maybe that's the primary reason why God allowed these ancient letters to be preserved for us to read, discovered this one memo in a pagan library that turned everything around, and God wanted us to read it and know it.

I think this is the postscript he wants us to read in between the lines, whether it has to do with nations and kingdoms or whether it has to do with your own personal life. God is fully in control. Nothing can separate you from the love of God, even when things happen that don't seem to be loving. Nothing can stop the sovereign will of God from being accomplished, neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night nor persecution nor trial nor height nor debt nor opposition by rulers nor sins of nations nor the power of Satan can hinder the full and final completion of God's perfect will and plan. Our part is to simply be like these believers, conscientious in our work, consistent in our worship, committed in our walk, as who?

Servants of the living God of heaven, the God of earth. That's a powerful reminder, and I hope each of us will live that way. Today, and every day.

This is wisdom for the heart. Our Bible teacher, Stephen Davey, is working his way through a series in the book of Ezra. Would you be interested in receiving occasional text messages and updates from Stephen? Or maybe you prefer to receive email?

We'd like to be able to communicate with you. Stephen sends ministry updates and words of encouragement to those who are on his email or text list. Visit forward slash email. Once again, it's forward slash email. Of course, once you're signed up, you can send Stephen a text or email as well. Please tune in next time for more wisdom for the heart. you
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-11-02 00:17:58 / 2023-11-02 00:28:39 / 11

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