Today: [Ezra Four] Exposing the Adversaries. In this chapter we find that the revival and restoration taking place in Jerusalem stirred up adversaries to cause the work to cease. At first they tried to flatter their way into the work of God and then failing that they successfully cut off the support of the king of Persian for the rebuilding of the temple. When you are moving in God’s blessing and seeing His favor you will be resisted as Zerubbabel and Jeshua were resisted. It may even look like the enemy will get the upper hand for a time. Discernment and discretion are need to expose the assault of the enemy and overcome his strategy so the work of God may proceed unhindered.
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[Ezr 4:1-24 KJV] 1 Now when the adversaries of Judah and Benjamin heard that the children of the captivity builded the temple unto the LORD God of Israel; 2 Then they came to Zerubbabel, and to the chief of the fathers, and said unto them, Let us build with you: for we seek your God, as ye [do]; and we do sacrifice unto him since the days of Esarhaddon king of Assur, which brought us up hither. 3 But Zerubbabel, and Jeshua, and the rest of the chief of the fathers of Israel, said unto them, Ye have nothing to do with us to build an house unto our God; but we ourselves together will build unto the LORD God of Israel, as king Cyrus the king of Persia hath commanded us. 4 Then the people of the land weakened the hands of the people of Judah, and troubled them in building, 5 And hired counsellors against them, to frustrate their purpose, all the days of Cyrus king of Persia, even until the reign of Darius king of Persia. 6 And in the reign of Ahasuerus, in the beginning of his reign, wrote they [unto him] an accusation against the inhabitants of Judah and Jerusalem. 7 And in the days of Artaxerxes wrote Bishlam, Mithredath, Tabeel, and the rest of their companions, unto Artaxerxes king of Persia; and the writing of the letter [was] written in the Syrian tongue, and interpreted in the Syrian tongue. 8 Rehum the chancellor and Shimshai the scribe wrote a letter against Jerusalem to Artaxerxes the king in this sort: 9 Then [wrote] Rehum the chancellor, and Shimshai the scribe, and the rest of their companions; the Dinaites, the Apharsathchites, the Tarpelites, the Apharsites, the Archevites, the Babylonians, the Susanchites, the Dehavites, [and] the Elamites, 10 And the rest of the nations whom the great and noble Asnappar brought over, and set in the cities of Samaria, and the rest [that are] on this side the river, and at such a time.
The previous chapter concludes with the people singing and rejoicing as they worked to restore the temple and the city. Verse 13 says that when they rejoiced at the restoration that the sound was heard “afar off”. When you are occupied with the purposes of God and begin to see success there will be a sound coming out of your life that will be heard “afar off”. People are going to seek you out and try to get close to you with the claim that they “seek God as you do”. This was the case with Zerubabbel, in fact their enemies not only claimed to seek God as they did likewise but claimed to have been doing so long before Zerubabbel and Jeshua arrived to restored the temple. Here is where discernment comes in. When the blessing of God is evident in your life people are going to start showing up not because they love and support what you are doing but because they are resentful that they are not in charge or being the center of attention. They will speak your language and claim to think as you do. In fact they are adversaries. You will know them in part when for all their protestations of affinity with you they will begin to assert their high opinion of themselves by implying they have been serving God longer than you have and walking in the way before you showed up. This is what an illegitimate authority will assert when they feel threatened. This is the person who will testify and rejoice and speak your language but when they are finished you are left feeling diminished and unsettled in your spirit.
Zerubabbel and Jeshua discerned what was happening and did not try to be delicate in their response. They flatly told their adversaries that they were not going to be allowed to work with them. This was not the end of the matter. When these type of people cannot flatter their way into the work of God in your life they will not simply go away. They will begin to speak sedition, criticism and engage in fault finding. These men when directly to Cyrus who was funding the work of God Zerubbabel and Jeshua was doing. When these manipulators are not successful in flattering you to their own end they will seek out your support base and attempt to disaffect those that love and support and stand by you in the things that God calls you to do. They will gather many others around them to confirm and validate their accusations against your character and your testimony.
Why is all this happening? Because you are doing something wrong? Or because you are doing something right? When you begin in your life to make headway and to see the work of the enemy destroyed and God exalted the enemy will mount an assault against you and he will many times use people who claim to be on your team and supporting your efforts. We can learn from Zerubabbel and Jeshua not to pander or try to delicately deal with these types of assaults. You can’t dance with devils. They are simply trying to delay and destroy what you are doing for whatever their motive is. You will never be able to negotiate with them or convince them you are not your enemy. When someone comes at you and begins to speak contrary to the purposes of God in your life deal with them decisively. If the relationship is broken and lost then you simply keep on seeking the kingdom and trust God to sort things out. You cannot listen to your critics. If you try to reach these people or do damage control you will only empower them to weaken the hands of the people who do stand with you and they will be successful in hindering you in the work God has called you to do.
11 This [is] the copy of the letter that they sent unto him, [even] unto Artaxerxes the king; Thy servants the men on this side the river, and at such a time. 12 Be it known unto the king, that the Jews which came up from thee to us are come unto Jerusalem, building the rebellious and the bad city, and have set up the walls [thereof], and joined the foundations. 13 Be it known now unto the king, that, if this city be builded, and the walls set up [again, then] will they not pay toll, tribute, and custom, and [so] thou shalt endamage the revenue of the kings. 14 Now because we have maintenance from [the king’s] palace, and it was not meet for us to see the king’s dishonour, therefore have we sent and certified the king; 15 That search may be made in the book of the records of thy fathers: so shalt thou find in the book of the records, and know that this city [is] a rebellious city, and hurtful unto kings and provinces, and that they have moved sedition within the same of old time: for which cause was this city destroyed. 16 We certify the king that, if this city be builded [again], and the walls thereof set up, by this means thou shalt have no portion on this side the river. 17 [Then] sent the king an answer unto Rehum the chancellor, and [to] Shimshai the scribe, and [to] the rest of their companions that dwell in Samaria, and [unto] the rest beyond the river, Peace, and at such a time. 18 The letter which ye sent unto us hath been plainly read before me. 19 And I commanded, and search hath been made, and it is found that this city of old time hath made insurrection against kings, and [that] rebellion and sedition have been made therein. 20 There have been mighty kings also over Jerusalem, which have ruled over all [countries] beyond the river; and toll, tribute, and custom, was paid unto them. 21 Give ye now commandment to cause these men to cease, and that this city be not builded, until [another] commandment shall be given from me. 22 Take heed now that ye fail not to do this: why should damage grow to the hurt of the kings? 23 Now when the copy of king Artaxerxes’ letter [was] read before Rehum, and Shimshai the scribe, and their companions, they went up in haste to Jerusalem unto the Jews, and made them to cease by force and power. 24 Then ceased the work of the house of God which [is] at Jerusalem. So it ceased unto the second year of the reign of Darius king of Persia.
Notice the lies that were told. Zerubabbel and Jeshua were assaulted in their character against the new king who has just replaced Cyrus. We can see also that in a time of transition and change is when the enemy will stir up your detractors to impede you while you are orienting to new circumstances. These adversaries painted themselves as victims who were simply trying to spare the king of Persia from underwriting a work that would only bring trouble into his own life. They were careful to write the accusations in a language that the king would understand. In other words they studied the situation and spoke right to the king’s deepest suspicions to encourage him to cease in his support of the work of the Jews. In times of shift we see this happen where a change takes place and suddenly those who have supported you faithfully will without explanation decide to do otherwise. This is the work of the python spirit – the python lurks at forks in the game trail to snare his victims. The python is also a source of false prophecy. The adversaries prophesied to the king what was going to happen to him if he kept supporting Zerubabbel and Jeshua. The king was convinced and sends word for the cessation of the work. The strategy was effective and the command came down that they work cease.
This chapter ends with an open ended and unfortunate situation. The lesson for us is to know that these things are not just random occurrences. There is a plan and a strategy being employed by the enemy to impede the purposes of God in your life – and knowing the working of the enemies assault is important in eventually defeating him.
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