What did the “enemies” do in Ezra 4:6-24 in order to stop the work in Jerusalem?
The “people of the land” wrote letters of accusation against the Jews and their work first to Darius (Ezra chapters 5 and 6), then to King Xerxes (Ahasuerus) as well as Artaxerxes. They were doing everything in their power to stop the work in Jerusalem.
The people of the surrounding nations claimed that if the city were rebuilt, the king would lose his power over it because Jerusalem had always been a place of rebellion and trouble in the past. Unfortunately, King Artaxerxes was swayed into believing that the Jews were building only because they wanted to gain their independence and therefore incite confrontation. He ordered the work to cease, and the people sent an army to prevent further building of the city. This forceful approach brought the work for God to a halt.
Read Ezra 4:23-24. Why did the Jews stop building? Didn’t they know that God wanted them to rebuild the city? What got in the way?
It is apparent that the Jews realized that God had called them to rebuild the city and the temple, but because of the strong opposition, they were afraid. Perhaps they came up with excuses such as “Now must not be the right time”, or “If this were truly what God wanted us to do, He would have provided a way”, or “Maybe we weren’t supposed to come back here at all”. When opposition gets in the way of doing what we believe God calls us to do, we have the tendency to question and doubt God’s guidance. We can easily convince ourselves that we made a mistake. Fear can paralyze our minds, and our thoughts turn to despair and helplessness instead of being focused on the power of God.
|Have you experienced something similar, being convinced that God had called you to do something and, then, harboring doubts when things got hard? (Think, for instance, about John the Baptist). What have you learned from that experience?|