How do you respond to opposition? What if someone is doing everything they can to sabotage your work for the Lord? When you can face and overcome opposition by depending on God’s strength you will ultimately accomplish great things.
Does taking a stand for Christ necessarily mean that you will face opposition? In all probability it does. Whenever you take a stand for Jesus and what is right there will inevitably be conflict with those who oppose Jesus.
God’s people have constantly found themselves facing opposition and especially when their work is making advancement. In Ezra chapter 3 the Israelites experienced victory. The foundation of the temple was laid.
There was a spirit of renewal and revival. Worship was renewed and sacrifices were made. But opposition lurked around the corner. When God’s people are doing God’s work opposition comes. Satan will sow seeds of destruction.
Those who are not part of the work that is succeeding will oppose the work. That is what we find in Ezra 4. The opposition came from those who became resentful when they could not be part of the work. It takes determination and faith in God to overcome opposition. When the obstacles mount because of opposition then God’s people must continue and persevere in God’s name.
Conflict begins, Ezra 4: 1-5
When the Assyrians and Babylonians conquered a people they spread them out all over their kingdom. As a result there were a people of mixed Jews and gentiles just north of Jerusalem called Samaria. You are familiar with the Samaritans from the story of the woman at the well and the Good Samaritan. Jesus was breaking resentment when he spoke to the Samaritan woman and told the Good Samaritan story that stemmed back 600 years to what we find here in the book of Ezra.
The Samaritans held to Jehovah God, but they also blended their worship with the religion of the foreigners they intermarried with. They watered down the worship of God. They didn’t consider just how serious it is when you compromise on worshipping God.
These Samaritans are referred to here as the enemies of Judah. They came to the remnant who just finished a huge success in completing the foundation of the Temple. They asked, let us help you finish the temple. Let’s come together and focus on the lowest common denominator that we both want to worship God. This was not acceptable to the leaders.
But Zerubbabel, Jeshua 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.”
God was in the process of brining His redemptive program to fruition through Jews. Lowering the standards would not do. They must keep themselves pure and holy. They would not join with a group who worshipped foreign gods and watered down God’s requirement of purity.
Were God’s people just being too narrow? Couldn’t they be inclusive of those who offered to help? God’s people must be as narrow as the scripture. Anything less is unhealthy compromise and anything more is legalism. It is a narrow road that God’s people are called to travel. The problem of adding more restrictions will come later to God’s people too.
Refusing to compromise has its price. The opposition regrouped their efforts. There is retaliation for taking this stand. If we can’t join you then we will destroy your efforts.
Then the peoples around them set out to discourage the people of Judah and make them afraid to go on building. 5 They hired counselors 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.
There are those who think that every believer in Christ should join together and form a united front and then everyone will be attracted to Christ. That would mean joining with those who think that doing good works save. That would be a crippling compromise.
Cooperation and unity does not mean forgetting God’s standards or having high moral values. Yes the Samaritans worship God, but they cling to other religions too. The remnant was called to remain pure. They must remain single to God’s purpose. Taking that stand meant opposition and even persecution. There is a high cost to make a stand for what is right. But to not make a stand is devastating. The whole efforts would have been defeated if they let the Samaritans join in building the Temple.
Plot of enemies Ezra 4:6-10
Their enemies sent a letter with false accusations to the king of Persia.
The king should know that the Jews who came up to us from you have gone to Jerusalem and are rebuilding that rebellious and wicked city. They are restoring the walls and repairing the foundations.
They make three warnings to the King about the Jews if they are not stopped.
1. The king will suffer financially vs. 13
2. The Kings honor will be damaged vs. 14
3. King would lose part of the kingdom vs. 15-16
Transition of kings.
The Kings Reply is to stop the work. Ezra 4:17-24
The enemies set out to discourage the work and they succeeded. Unfortunately all it took was a little effort from a few spoilers and the building and the religious awakening came to a standstill.
What happened to all the beautiful cedar timbers that were to be used to build the temple? Haggia 1:3 tells us that they ended up in the people’s homes. After the opposition they got discouraged and quit building the temple. They turned their attention away form God’s work and used the materials for themselves.
Everything was going so well and they got tripped up. Whenever God’s work begins to prosper there will be opposition. Opposition can do two things.
1. make quitters
2. produce overcomers
We are called to be more than conquerors. We are called to be overcomers. It takes a lot of courage and conviction to overcome adversity. God’s work must move ahead.
What challenges and difficulties do you face? If you are standing faithful your work in the Lord is prospering. What snares and obstacles have been put in your path?
This is no time to panel your houses. Redouble your efforts under Christ. The work of Christ and his great commission prevails when his people rise above the opposition. We are called to be more than conquerors. We must move ahead when there are obstacles.