In our last post we looked at how Leaders Leverage Politics. The political confrontation in Ezra chapter 5 must have been ominous and the source of great stress for everyone involved. The Jewish leaders however, had an advantage that those who opposed them could never have anticipated; the God of the universe was on their side. In the very next chapter we read the response of King Darius to the political sparing that was causing such consternation in Jerusalem.
Through the response of King Darius we see that leaders often need to take decisive
political action. However, we also see that great leaders know when to let God be God.
Darius hears the argument of the Jewish leaders and sides with them. But rather then simply symbolically support the rebuilding effort, he miraculously embraces the effort to the fullest extent possible demanding riches and resources from the royal treasury be sent to ensure full financial and material provision be afforded to the effort. He decrees a full measure of protection over the laborers and leaders, ultimately declaring a violent and heinous fate for anyone who would even hint at opposition. For a foreign ruler to offer such extravagant support is unheard of in ancient times. Clearly God was working behind the scenes to reward the efforts of His people.
In Ezra chapter six we see three critical ways God works on behalf of His people when they let God be God.
1. When We Let God Be God He Protects Us
While political stalemates are often resolved by higher authorities, such the Supreme Court in modern America, the contention typically continues between the opposing parties. God worked through the Persian king to ensure that the confrontation was completely finished. “Now therefore, Tattenai, governor of the province Beyond the River, Shethar-bozenai, and your associates the governors who are in the province Beyond the River, keep away. Let the work on this house of God alone” (Ezra 6:6-7).
The work was to continue unabated and under the complete protection and authority of the Persian empire. When we let God be God, he works in miraculous ways to provide us with absolute protection.
2. When We Let God Be God He Provides for Us
While the rebuilding effort was being stalled due to the political showdown, it was also tremendously costly. Not only did the king decree that the work should continue, he determined to cover the entire cost. His response was a royal decree and therefore legally binding. “The cost is to be paid to these men in full and without delay from the royal revenue… And whatever is needed — bulls, rams, or sheep for burnt offerings to the God of heaven, wheat, salt, wine, or oil, as the priests at Jerusalem require” (Ezra 6:8).
Not only would the work continue, but every provision would be accounted for by this decree. Clearly God was not only ensuring the construction continued, but He was providing for it in the most astounding way. When we let God be God, He will provide for our every need in unimaginable ways.
3. When We Let God Be God He Plans for Us
While God ensured protection and provision through the decree of Darius, he didn’t stop there. God used the King to ensure a long term plan for the rebuilding project. This was not a short term fix that would fade as time passed. The decree ends with a gory ultimatum for anyone who would even consider future malfeasance. “Also I make a decree that if anyone alters this edict, a beam shall be pulled out of his house, and he shall be impaled on it, and his house shall be made a dunghill” (Ezra 6:11). Talk about an absolute and definitive statement. And if there was any misunderstanding of whose authority was driving this decree, Darius submits to the God of Israel as the ultimate driving force of the decree. “May the God who has caused his name to dwell there overthrow any king or people who shall put out a hand to alter this, or to destroy this house of God that is in Jerusalem” (Ezra 6:12).
When we let God be God, he often responds conclusive finality. God ensured the permanence of His plan moving forward. The work would continue with not only the protection of the king, but also with the entire empire knowing that the God of Israel was the ultimate authority.
Our leadership will only take us so far. We must ensure that during the hustle and bustle of strategy sessions, team building and relationship, we never loose site of the fact that God must remain in control.
Great leaders choose to let God be God.