Traitors in the camp
Lord, thank You that we do not need to fear, for You are with us.
Read Ezra 4:1–5,24
 When the enemies of Judah and Benjamin heard that the exiles were building a temple for the LORD, the God of Israel,  they came to Zerubbabel and to the heads of the families and said, “Let us help you build because, like you, we seek your God and have been sacrificing to him since the time of Esarhaddon king of Assyria, who brought us here.”  But Zerubbabel, Joshua and the rest of the heads of the families of Israel answered, “You have no part with us in building a temple to our God. We alone will build it for the LORD, the God of Israel, as King Cyrus, the king of Persia, commanded us.”  Then the peoples around them set out to discourage the people of Judah and make them afraid to go on building.  They bribed officials to work against them and frustrate their plans during the entire reign of Cyrus king of Persia and down to the reign of Darius king of Persia. Scripture taken from the THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION, NIV Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
ReflectHow was God’s work opposed?
At first sight the offer to help with building the Temple (2) looks genuine. Why did Zerubbabel and Joshua refuse it (3)? There are clues which explain. First, the people who came to make the offer are described as “enemies” (1). Second, the reference to Esarhaddon, the king of Assyria (2), shows that these people were brought to the area after the Israelite population was deported elsewhere. They were therefore not genuine worshippers of the Lord. Zerubbabel and Joshua recognize the offer for what it is—the opening gambit in a long battle. They use King Cyrus’s instructions as their reason for refusing it (3). Yet the local people harassing God’s people were extremely persistent. They varied their methods of harassment. Look at the strategies they used (4,5) to stop the work on the Temple. Verse 24 shows us the result of their tactics: the work on rebuilding the Temple ground to a halt for about sixteen years.
Encourage someone who is being faithful to do the Lord’s work.
Jesus, help us to persist in following You regardless of the obstacles.
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