How is your attitude today? I ask it that way because my outlook on life shifts daily. Just this week, I have watched my attitude change frequently. For instance, on Monday I started out numb. I was coming off a busy weekend and I had a full schedule for the day ahead so I went into function mode. I didn’t think about how I was doing and I wasn’t very aware of the people around me. In the middle of the morning someone asked me, “So, Bill, how are you are doing?”
My response was, “I don’t know. I haven’t checked yet today.” And I meant it. I really had not stopped to do any kind of a quick inventory of my perspective on the day or my attitude. My own needs were too close to the surface so I knew if I checked on myself I would most likely feel sorry for myself for the rest of the day. I had just woken up, shifted into motion and ignored everything except the list of tasks that needed to be pursued. Since I was going to be with a significant group of people later on that day, I thought it was a good idea for me to be more deliberate about my mindset. I decided that an attitude of numbness was probably not a good idea so I chose instead to focus on the needs around me rather than my own. Needless to say, the rest of the day went pretty well.
It is amazing how much changes when your attitude changes! “For seven days they celebrated with joy the Festival of Unleavened Bread, because the LORD had filled them with joy by changing the attitude of the king of Assyria so that he assisted them in the work on the house of God, the God of Israel.” (Ezra 6:22) The work on the temple had begun under King Cyrus. The permits were in place, the funding had been secured, and the work began with enthusiasm. After the foundation of the structure was in place, however, the work got interrupted and lay dormant for years. The mantle of leadership was then passed from King Cyrus to King Darius. The priests in Israel saw this as their opportunity to resume work on the building that matter the most to them. Two local officials took offense and wrote a letter to the king. In the letter, they asked Darius to do a search and confirm whether or not King Cyrus had indeed called for the building of the house of God. (You can read the letter in Ezra 5)
King Darius did the search and God stirred his heart. You can always tell when your attitude has changed because it impacts your behavior. The temple project became a prominent item on his list of priorities and he took action. Here is the list of everything he called for to ensure the work went forward:
- “The costs are to be paid by the royal treasury.” (v. 4)
- “. . . the gold and silver articles of the house of God, which Nebuchadnezzar took from the temple in Jerusalem and brought to Babylon, are to be returned to their places in the temple in Jerusalem . . .” (v. 5)
- “Tattenai, governor of Trans-Euphrates, and Shethar-Bozenai and you other officials of that province, stay away from there. Do not interfere with the work on this temple of God.” (v. 6-7) These are the two men who had asked for the inquiry to be done. Darius saw through their request and realized they actually wanted to stop the work.
- “Whatever is needed—young bulls, rams, male lambs for burnt offerings to the God of heaven, and wheat, salt, wine and olive oil, as requested by the priests in Jerusalem—must be given them daily without fail.” (v. 9) This became the responsibility of Tattenai and Shethar-Bozenai, the very men who wanted to stop this from happening!
- “I decree that if anyone defies this edict, a beam is to be pulled from their house and they are to be impaled on it.” (v. 11) I guess he was serious!
The Jewish people were already highly motivated to get their place of worship established but they lacked the resources. King Darius had the resources but lacked the will to apply them to this project. Then his attitude changed and the venture went into high gear.
Lord, direct my attitude today so that I am motivated to do what needs to be done, when it needs to be done for your glory and the good of the people involved.