Psalm 24:1, “The earth is Yahweh’s, and all its fullness,
The world and those who dwell therein.”
Proverbs 21:1, “The king’s heart is in the hand of Yahweh,
Like the rivers of water; He turns it wherever He wishes.”
Friends, from just these two verses, we can see that Yahweh owns the universe and all the people in it, even to the heart of the world’s rulers. Yeshua is King of kings, Lord of lords, the only true Master of the universe. He is above all, knows all, owns all, He is the supreme, sovereign Ruler of all. We owe obeisance and all allegiance to Him. He is our Mighty One, our God, we are His people, the sheep of His pasture.
I want to share with you what Yahweh, my King, recently showed me from His Word. But first, a bit more personal history. I’ve been involved to one degree or another in the tax freedom, or liberty movement, for over twenty years. Yeah for liberty, right? It is wonderful, especially in Yeshua. He is our Law of liberty. You want to be free indeed, He is the only One Who can make that happen for you. I didn’t stay in the U.S. Air Force beyond my initial four-year hitch, because I could foresee that I would not get along with the U.S. Government for an extended period of time. I had kind of a rebellious heart; do you know anyone with a rebellious heart? What was it that George Washington declared, “Government is not reason; it is not eloquence; it is force! Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master.” You were right George, you’re a prophet, too. I’ve tried to stay away from the civil government in any way I can, even to avoiding taxes, but never evading taxes, that’s illegal. I used to teach and preach about tax avoidance and liberty stuff any chance I got, but about all that did was wear me out. It didn’t do much good either, since America has crawled into her very own self-sealing coffin anyway. Is it getting hard to breath in here or what? Anyway, I was reading the Book of Ezra with my sweet wife the other night attempting to learn a little more about the oblation offerings, and Yahweh just slapped me with a few verses and gave me revelation of His majesty and sovereignty.
Let’s dive into the living river of the waters of life again and see what Yahweh has to say today. Ezra, Nehemiah, Daniel, and most of the children of Judah were still in Babylon, at the end of the 70 years of captivity. In 459 BCE, Cyrus II, king of Persia, conquered Babylon without much of a fight from Belshazzar, who was drunk out of his mind. Daniel 5:30-31, “That very night Belshazzar, king of the Chaldeans, was slain. 31And Darius the Mede received the kingdom, being about sixty-two years old.” Cyrus II didn’t hang around Babylon, he continued to conquer for a year or two. But he came back to personally rule Babylon in 457 BCE. Well, guess what year that just happened to be? Yup, the 70th year of the Israelite captivity! It’s amazing what you can learn by building a 7,000-line timeline spreadsheet and watching human history unfold a line at a time. So that’s the setting of the beginning of Ezra’s Book.
Ezra 1:1-2, “Now in the first year of Cyrus (II) king of Persia (457 BCE was his official 1st year), that the word of Yahweh by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, Yahweh stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, so that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and also put it in writing, saying, 2Thus says Cyrus king of Persia: All the kingdoms of the earth Yahweh Mighty One of heaven has given me. And He has commanded me to build Him a house (temple) at Jerusalem which is in Judah.” 457 BCE is the year when Cyrus II, the Great, made his decree (FIRST DECREE by a Persian king) that allowed the Jews to return to Judah and Jerusalem. Did you catch that? Just like Proverbs 21:1 says, Yahweh moved in the heart of Cyrus II and commanded him to build Yahweh’s second temple in Jerusalem. This took my breath away, but that’s not what slapped me out of my chair onto my face.
Soon after Zerubbabel and the priests get to Jerusalem, they build the altar of Yahweh on the Temple mount and begin the daily oblations again. That’s in Ezra chapter 3. Check out verse 6, “From the first day of the seventh month (Feast of Trumpets in 457 BCE, see Lev. 23) they began to offer burnt offerings to Yahweh, although the foundation of the temple of Yahweh had not been laid.” Notice the order of events, first the oblations, then build the temple. That’s important for what the Temple Mount Faithful group is about to do in Jerusalem in our day, before our very eyes! Get ready for the world to really come down on Israel! Pray for Israel, that they would repent, grow up, and get back to Yahweh’s plan for them. I understand that the Israeli police again prevented an offering from taking place on the Temple mount for Passover. Pray people, pray! Yeshua can’t come back until they get in line with His will. But keep watching Yahweh’s controlling hand in world events today, it’s how He sets the timing for His perfect will to be done, on His schedule, not ours. It’s awesome to watch Him move in human history upon the earth! More on that later. Back to the Book, notice that the revival begins in Jerusalem before Ezra even gets to town. Humbling, isn’t it?
In Ezra 3:3-10, we see the Israelites setting the foundation for the temple in the second month of their second year in Jerusalem, 456 BCE. So, while Ezra is back in Babylon scribing, and Daniel is hanging out with the lions in the lion’s den, Zerubbabel and the Israelite boys are building Yahweh’s temple in Jerusalem, all in a spirit of worship! While this building project is going on, the kings of Persia are out warring and getting killed and Yahweh is raising up and putting down kings and kingdoms. So by the time Haggai and Zechariah show up to prophesy, Darius I (Hystaspes), the Great, king of Persia, is in his second year in 441 BCE, see Haggai 1:1, and Zech. 1:1 for their date stamp. Time flies when you’re having fun building Yahweh’s temple in Jerusalem. So now we’re in Ezra 6 where we see a recap of the FIRST DECREE done by Cyrus II in 457 BCE. Look at verses 3b-4, “Let the house be rebuilt, the place where they offered sacrifices; and let the foundations of it be firmly laid, its height sixty cubits and its width sixty cubits, 4with three rows of heavy stones and one row of new timber. Let the expenses be paid from the king’s treasury.” I’ve been reading the Book for several decades now and I’ve never noticed that phrase before. Yahweh just let that verse slap back and forth across my face for a few minutes until it soaked into my thick skull that HE OWNS EVERYTHING! Folks, we’re not talking about a Jewish treasury in the temple or in Jerusalem, we’re talking about pagan raised taxes from pagans in the pagan country of the Medes and Persians (Iraq and Iran) being used by the pagan king’s decree, by Yahweh’s command to him, to build the Temple of Yahweh, for Yahweh’s glory. They also raised some of the tax money in Judea and Samaria, the land beyond the River Euphrates from Persia. Also, in Ezra 2:68-69 you see the Israelites giving into the treasury for the building project. Kind of a joint venture between Israel and surrounding pagan nations, sound familiar? Folks, this is the Temple in which Yeshua did His Bar Mitzvah in 9 CE at the age of 12 before the Sanhedrin! This is the Temple in which He taught the people and His disciples and rebuked the Pharisees! This is the Temple destroyed by the Assyrian-conscripted Roman legions in 70 CE. This Temple brought glory to Yahweh and Yeshua and was built primarily by the federal tax dollars of the Kingdom of Persia!!! Talk about a government grant program. Needless to say, I have been repenting from a lot of stupid theology for the last couple weeks. Yahweh is one, one faith, one baptism, one treasury. Ok, I’m starting to get it.
Darius I (Hystaspes) made his own decree (the SECOND DECREE from a Persian king) in 441 BCE, as seen in Ezra 6:8-10, “Moreover I issue a decree as to what you shall do for the elders of these Jews, for the building of this house of Yahweh: Let the cost be paid at the king’s expense from taxes on the region beyond the River; this is to be given immediately to these men, so that they are not hindered. 9And whatever they need—young bulls, rams, and lambs for the burnt offerings of the Mighty One of heaven, wheat, salt, wine, and oil, according to the request of the priests who are in Jerusalem—let it be given them day by day without fail, 10that they may offer sacrifices of sweet aroma (oblations) to the Mighty One of heaven, and pray for the life of the king and his sons.” Good grief, pagan kings understood the sovereignty of Yahweh better than I did. Humbling, very humbling. More repentance. Eat more carpet.
We see in Ezra 6:15 that the temple was completed in 436 BCE as commanded by Cyrus II, Darius I (Hystaspes, Artaxerxes, Ahasuerus), kings of Persia, “Now the temple was finished on the third day of the month of Adar, which was in the sixth year of the reign of King Darius (Hystaspes).” The Temple was finished in the twelfth month, just before the new year, just in time to get ready for Passover. Great timing Yahweh! And all of it was done in a spirit of worship, in the face of much controversy from their adversaries. Mostly built with federal government money. These guys were in revival! Check out verses 16-17, “Then the children of Israel, the priests and the Levites and the rest of the descendants of the captivity, celebrated the dedication of this house of Yahweh with joy. 17And they offered sacrifices at the dedication of this house of Yahweh, one hundred bulls, two hundred rams, four hundred lambs, and as a sin offering for all Israel twelve male goats, according to the number of the tribes of Israel.” Why did they have to dedicate the Temple? Because it was built with defiled money, silver and gold, from a pagan government. Also, the Temple articles that were taken to Babylon were defiled by pagans and had to be cleansed for ceremonial use. Pray for our brothers and sisters in Israel, that they will get it through their thick skulls and into their dull hearts. Some, like the Temple Mount Faithful group, do get it, but most in Israel still don’t get it. They are being opposed by the pagan terrorists as well as by their own pagan secular civil government! Sound familiar? If I knew how to email the Knesset, I’d let them know how I feel about this. Anybody out there know some Israeli Knesset email addresses? We need to encourage the modern Israelites to get on with Yahweh. The time of the end is upon us, they need to step up and play their part.
Notice that this Jewish revival and building project all happened before Ezra showed up in the seventh year of King Artaxerxes (Darius Hystaspes) in 436 BCE, as a result of the THIRD DECREE of a Persian king, in Ezra 7:12-26, “Artaxerxes (Darius Hystaspes), king of kings, To Ezra the priest, a scribe of the Law of the Mighty One of heaven:
Perfect peace, and so forth.
13 I issue a decree that all those of the people of Israel and the priests and Levites in my realm, who volunteer to go up to Jerusalem, may go with you. 14And whereas you are being sent by the king and his seven counselors to inquire concerning Judah and Jerusalem, with regard to the Law of your Mighty One which is in your hand; 15and whereas you are to carry the silver and gold which the king and his counselors have freely offered to the Mighty One of Israel, whose dwelling is in Jerusalem; 16and whereas all the silver and gold that you may find in all the province of Babylon, along with the freewill offering of the people and the priests, are to be freely offered for the house of their Mighty One in Jerusalem—17now therefore, be careful to buy with this money bulls, rams, and lambs, with their grain offerings and their drink offerings, and offer them on the altar of the house of your Mighty One in Jerusalem.
18 And whatever seems good to you and your brethren to do with the rest of the silver and the gold, do it according to the will of your Mighty One. 19Also the articles that are given to you for the service of the house of your Mighty One, deliver in full before the Mighty One of Jerusalem. 20And whatever more may be needed for the house of your Mighty One, which you may have occasion to provide, pay for it from the king’s treasury.
21 And I, even I, Artaxerxes (Dairus Hsytaspes) the king, issue a decree to all the treasurers who are in the region beyond the River, that whatever Ezra the priest, the scribe of the Law of the Mighty One of heaven, may require of you, let it be done diligently, 22up to one hundred talents of silver, one hundred kors of wheat, one hundred baths of wine, one hundred baths of oil, and salt without prescribed limit. 23Whatever is commanded by the Mighty One of heaven, let it diligently be done for the house of the Mighty One of heaven. For why should there be wrath against the realm of the king and his sons?
24Also we inform you that it shall not be lawful to impose tax, tribute, or custom on any of the priests, Levites, singers, gatekeepers, Nethinim, or servants of this house of Yahweh. 25And you, Ezra, according to your God-given wisdom, set magistrates and judges who may judge all the people who are in the region beyond the River, all such as know the laws of your Mighty One; and teach those who do not know them. 26Whoever will not observe the law of your Mighty One and the law of the king, let judgment be executed speedily on him, whether it be death, or banishment, or confiscation of goods, or imprisonment.” Slap, slap slap, slap slap slap. More humbling, more repentance. Did you know that repentance is a key element of grace? No repentance, no salvation, know repentance, know salvation.
FYI, the story of Esther occurs between the building of the Temple and Ezra’s arrival in Jerusalem, per Esther 2:16, “So Esther was taken to King Ahasuerus (Darius Hystaspes), into his royal palace, in the tenth month, which is the month of Tebeth, in the seventh year of his reign (436 BCE).”
Also, for your edification, the decree by Cyrus II (the Great) in 457 BCE (FIRST DECREE by a Persian king), is the decree from which we count the first 69 Weeks of Daniel’s 70 weeks, stated in Daniel’s vision from 2 years earlier around 459 BCE, “Know therefore and understand, That from the going forth of the command To restore and build Jerusalem (King Cyrus II’s decree in 457 BCE) Until Messiah the Prince, There shall be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; The street shall be built again, and the wall (Nehemiah’s thing, another great story, wall built in 423 BCE, twentieth year of Artaxerxes (Darius Hystaspes), FOURTH DECREE by a Persian king.), Even in troublesome times.
26 “And after the sixty-two weeks Messiah shall be cut off (30 CE, exactly 3 ½ years into Daniel’s 70th week, hmmmm. Ponder, meditate), but not for Himself (uh, for us sinners, you and me); And the people of the prince who is to come
Shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end of it shall be with a flood, And till the end of the war desolations are determined.
27 Then he shall confirm a covenant with many for one week;
But in the middle of the week He shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering. And on the wing of abominations shall be one who makes desolate, Even until the consummation, which is determined, Is poured out on the desolate.”
Notice that in verse 26 the vision switches from talking about Messiah and His work to talking about Anti-messiah and his work. In verse 27, we see that Daniel’s 70-week vision will have a dual fulfillment, one in the 1st century fulfilling the Covenant, one in the 21st century, breaking a devilish covenant. Are you ready for what’s coming? Relax, now we know Who owns and controls everything.
Spreadsheets are pretty handy, I’ve counted out Daniel’s 62 weeks and 7 weeks on my timeline of human history, and it comes right to the beginning of Yeshua’s ministry in 26 CE. And as you saw the note above, Messiah was cut off right in the middle of the 70th week. Pretty cool, huh? You can ask for my timeline spreadsheet also, it’s also free. There was a revival in Media-Persia among the Israelites and the kings of Persia back in Daniel, Esther, Ezra, and Nehemiah’s day. There will be another revival in Mede (Iraq) soon, but you may not want to believe who’s revival it will be this time. That’s another article for another time at the end. Stay tuned . . . and pray . . . and repent . . . and watch . . . and pray.
Enjoy the Feast of Living Bread,
Gene Benjamin II
Ps. Remember to brush your teeth and smile, the beast is watching you.