For seven days they celebrated with joy the Feast 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.
One interesting series that Tris and I got hooked on was Once Upon A Time. It is a modern take of the old fairy tales we grew up with, and like Shrek, the creators made a way of linking the characters to each other and into one story line. For its second season, the evil witch was back again trying to win Snow White’s grandson for her keeping. She used the book of spells to snatch him amidst the townspeople. She even enticed him to try magic. But like Bruce Almighty’s lesson, you cannot make another love you. She may have kept the boy inside her house, but she can never be inside his heart. It is the boy’s personal choice.
Following the celebration of the dedication of the temple, we find Judah in verse 19 having another feast, the Passover. They held it on the dates commanded by the Law, indicating that the Temple worship was fully operational. What was noteworthy though was what God put in their hearts as the reason for their joy: that He changed the attitude of Darius so that he assisted them in the Temple rebuilding. God softened the heart of this ruler, as He did with Pharaoh, to serve His purposes. This king acknowledged God as the God of heaven. Sadly though, he didn't make God the God of his life.
Verse 10 gives us the clue what was really in Darius’ heart: political reasons. Wikipedia noted that he was a firm believer of Ahura Mazda and he only ‘supported faiths and religions that were alien as long as the adherents were submissive and peaceable, sometimes giving them grants from his treasury for their purposes’. How sad God must have been! This man called Him God - acknowledging His presence, His power, His sovereignty - but still not calling Him as ‘his’ God. Judas too, broke God’s heart by being a close follower and yet, not following at all. Both prove that we can do God’s will without necessarily being connected to Him. The difference is found at the celebration after. Judah joyously enjoyed the feast, but Darius have no share in it. I doubt we’ll see Judas in eternity as well. Truth is, God draws people to Himself. His power is for His love and grace be made available to all. But responding in faith is man’s personal choice. The big question now is, is the God of all creation, also the God of your life?