Read Ezra 4:1-5. Why do you think the Israelite remnant refused the help of other people in building the temple?
On the surface, the request seemed like a kind, neighborly thing to do, so why turn down the help? In one sense, the answer is found in the text itself. The “adversaries” came to offer them help. Adversaries? That alone gives a powerful hint as to why the Israelites reacted as they did.
Why were the people called “adversaries”? Second Kings 17:24-41 explains that these people were imported from other nations into Samaria and the surrounding region after the Northern Kingdom Israelites were deported. The king of Assyria sent them priests, who were to teach them how to worship the God of the land, that is, the God of Israel. However, the resulting religion incorporated the Canaanite gods as well. Therefore, the Israelite remnant was afraid that this religion would be brought into their temple worship. Hence, the best and smartest thing to do was what they did, which was to say, “No, thank you”.
We have to remember, too, just why all this was happening to begin with. It was their forefathers’ constant compromise with the pagan faiths around them that led to the destruction of the temple, as well as to their exile. Presumably, while in the very process of building the temple anew, the last thing that they would want to do would be to get too closely aligned with the people around them.
What else in these texts shows why this refusal was the right thing to do? (See Ezra 4:4-5).
|Think about how easily they could have rationalized accepting this help. What does 2 Corinthians 6:14 have to say to us in this context?|