Ezra 4

Ezra 4 has a power struggle going on.  The “adversaries of Judah and Benjamin heard that the returned exiles were building a temple to the Lord”.  The locals were not happy at all that the remnant has come back and is building the city back.  So they come to town in an effort to change things.  They start with an offer to help.  “Let us build with you” they said, with a motivation of infiltrating the workforce and causing it to shut down from the inside out.  But the leaders led by Zerubbabel and Jeshua don’t fall for it. They see right through this scheme.

They say “You have nothing to do with us in building a house to our God; but we alone will build to the Lord” and keep them off the work crew and stay focused on the orders of King Cyrus to rebuild the city.  That doesn’t stop these local folks from trying to shut down the work.  They:

–       “discouraged the people

–       made them afraid

–       bribed counselors against them

–       wrote an accusation

The enemies took very direct and invasive action to try and get the people off track and stopped.

Their final act was writing to the king and setting them up for failure.  Artaxerxes is the king now, and he gets this letter that “They are rebuilding that rebellious and wicked city….if this city is rebuilt and the walls finished, they will not pay tribute, custom, or toll, and the royal revenue will be impaired”.  They play the money card and tell the king that if the city is allowed to be rebuilt, it will then cut itself off from the king and the flow of taxes and other money will cease.  That was not the plan at all, but they twist the facts and turn the king against the project.

So the suggestion is made and the king decrees that “these men be made to cease, and that this city be not rebuilt, until a decree is made by me”.  It was time to shut down the building because the king was unsure of what the outcome of allowing the city to be built would be.  The enemies had planted doubt in the king’s mind of their motivation, and “by force and power made them cease”.  So work is stopped and it ceased until the second year of Darius the king.  There are always enemies who try to derail us from obedience.  And at times, it can even seem like they are winning, unless we stay forcused on God and walking with Him as He leads.

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