The third king of Persia who made a significant impact on God’s people was Artaxerxes I (Longimanus) who reigned during the period 465-424BC.(Ezr.7:1,21-26; Ne.2:1-8) He appointed Ezra as the secretary of state for Jewish affairs (in today’s language). He trusted and favored Ezra so much that he gave him everything he asked for. He wanted to beautify the Temple of God in Jerusalem and also make sure the priests and Levites there were carrying the worship correctly. So he listened to Ezra’s advice and sent Ezra to Jerusalem in 458BC with all the resources Ezra needed. He paid for all expenses to re-establish the proper Temple worship and sacrifices. He also gave Ezra authority to ensure compulsory religious education of the people of God (teaching them the Law of Moses) and their due compliance with the Law. He decreed that those who refuse to obey the Law of Ezra’s God and the law of the king would be punished immediately, “either by death, punishment, confiscation of goods or imprisonment.” He honored God and favored God’s servants-gave those who served God tax free status!
Here is a prayer of Ezra, praising God for the favor from God and from the king:
Ezra 7:27-28 New Living Translation (NLT)
Ezra Praises the Lord
27 Praise the Lord, the God of our ancestors, who made the king want to beautify the Temple of the Lord in Jerusalem! 28 And praise him for demonstrating such unfailing love to me by honoring me before the king, his council, and all his mighty nobles! I felt encouraged because the gracious hand of the Lord my God was on me. And I gathered some of the leaders of Israel to return with me to Jerusalem.
Thirteen years later, the same Persian king listened to another trusted Jewish official in his court, Nehemiah, allowed him to go back to Jerusalem in 445BC to re-build the wall of Jerusalem so the enemies would not be able to continue to harass the people of Israel and interrupt the Temple worship.
From these Biblical records we can see that king Artaxerxes I knew the two officials well, trusted them, acknowledged their godly wisdom, moral integrity, professional ability and leadership quality. History had proven that king Artaxerxes’ judgment was right in employing and granting favor to these two great men of God! Both men of God were not ambitious or greedy for gains for themselves. They served God faithfully, served the king with integrity, and capability for the respective task assigned. They truly loved God and loved the people of God. Upon completion of their respective specific assignment they returned to their own previous posts in the Persian Empire working close to the king and continuing to counsel him wisely. In today’s language, this is a win-win situation when both parties work together with integrity, justice, and honor for one another, sharing the ultimate reverential fear of the Almighty Holy God of Heaven.