Ezra 4:1-17

Adversaries Hinder the Work

Now when the enemies of Judah and Benjamin heard that the people of the exile were building a temple to the Lord God of Israel, they approached Zerubbabel and the heads of fathers’ households, and said to them, “Let us build with you, for we, like you, seek your God; and we have been sacrificing to Him since the days of Esarhaddon king of Assyria, who brought us up here.” But Zerubbabel and Jeshua and the rest of the heads of fathers’ households of Israel said to them, “You have nothing in common with us in building a house to our God; but we ourselves will together build to the Lord God of Israel, as King Cyrus, the king of Persia has commanded us.”

Then the people of the land [a]discouraged the people of Judah, and frightened them from building, and hired counselors against them to frustrate their counsel all the days of Cyrus king of Persia, even until the reign of Darius king of Persia.

Now in the reign of [b]Ahasuerus, in the beginning of his reign, they wrote an accusation against the inhabitants of Judah and Jerusalem.

And in the days of [c]Artaxerxes, Bishlam, Mithredath, Tabeel and the rest of his colleagues wrote to Artaxerxes king of Persia; and the [d]text of the letter was written in Aramaic and translated from Aramaic.

The Letter to King Artaxerxes

[e]Rehum the commander and Shimshai the scribe wrote a letter against Jerusalem to King Artaxerxes, as follows— then wrote Rehum the commander and Shimshai the scribe and the rest of their colleagues, the judges and the lesser governors, the officials, the secretaries, the men of Erech, the Babylonians, the men of Susa, that is, the Elamites, 10 and the rest of the nations which the great and honorable [f]Osnappar deported and settled in the city of Samaria, and in the rest of the region beyond the [g]River. Now 11 this is the copy of the letter which they sent to him:

“To King Artaxerxes: Your servants, the men in the region beyond the River, and now 12 let it be known to the king that the Jews who came up from you have come to us at Jerusalem; they are rebuilding the rebellious and evil city and are finishing the walls and repairing the foundations. 13 Now let it be known to the king, that if that city is rebuilt and the walls are finished, they will not pay tribute, custom or toll, and it will damage the revenue of the kings. 14 Now because we [h]are in the service of the palace, and it is not fitting for us to see the king’s dishonor, therefore we have sent and informed the king, 15 so that a search may be made in the record books of your fathers. And you will discover in the record books and learn that that city is a rebellious city and damaging to kings and provinces, and that they have incited revolt within it in past days; therefore that city was laid waste. 16 We inform the king that if that city is rebuilt and the walls finished, as a result you will have no possession in the province beyond the River.”

These men might have been correct in their letter to the king, but whatever the outcome, they simply didn’t want to see the Israelites building a temple to God. And it is not much different today. When good people are doing good things… even when those good things don’t involve God directly, evil rises up to try and stop the work.

The darkness is afraid of the light, and all things that are truly good are from God himself, so the dark forces of this world cannot stand to see anything of His come to fruition. Time and time again we see opposition to good things, even great works, often just because they have something to do with God.

But do not be afraid of opposition, rather do whatever God asks you, and do it with all your heart. That does not mean you are free from danger, but as I was reminded recently, we are to fear only the one who rules the fate of our soul. There is no need to fear those who may harm or destroy our earthly body, for we will live with Him for eternity.

No, do not fear, but be strong and courageous as you do the work that God has set before you. Evil will rise, but it cannot prevail against the will of God. And you are forever safe in His hands, no matter what befalls you on this earth. Rest in His unsearchable peace, and rejoice that you are counted to be worthy to join in His suffering.

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