Focus Verse: With praise and thanksgiving they sang to the Lord: “He is good; his love toward Israel endures forever.” And all the people gave a great shout of praise to the Lord, because the foundation of the house of the Lord was laid. (11)
Even though the Israelites had been in exile for many years – first in Babylon and then in the land of the Medes and Persians – they did not forget the goodness of the Lord. They knew their past time of prosperity, power, and peace was due to His goodness. They also recognized that their present time of punishment was because of His goodness. And the only reason they were back in their own land, rebuilding the altar and temple, was because of His goodness and because of His love which endures toward Israel and forever and ever. His love toward me and you endures forever too.
Focus Verse: Then the peoples around them set out to discourage the people of Judah and make them afraid to go on building. (4)
“The peoples” never wanted to help Zerubbabel and the rest of the Israelites rebuild God’s temple. They were just pretending to be friendly with their offer of assistance. If they were sincere about helping they would not have set out to discourage, make fearful, and frustrate the Israelites who refused their help.
1 John 5
Focus Verse: This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. (14)
This verse has been a constant comfort of mine. If we know that we are praying according to God’s will and praying for His will to be done in our lives, we can be confident that He hears us and will give us what we ask for. This is why we are encouraged to approach God’s throne of grace with confidence. If it is good and godly and in accordance with the plans He has for our lives – whatever we ask – we have it. Do not give up praying after the first try. Keep on praying until you prevail!