Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Ezra Bible Study - Rebuffed: Standing Firm

In Ezra 4, we see a scenario that is common today.

Why do your enemies want a piece of God's blessing in your life? They didn't earn your blessing, they have no relationship with God, they weren't the beneficiaries, yet they have no problem wanting to align themselves with you when you're on a holy mission. They don't know your relationship with God and the manifestation of His promises to you. They only see your outcome and are filled with envy, not recognizing what it took for you to get there. So they approach you because they know your character and anticipate that you'll act in a way favorable to them. But Christians don't need to be pushovers; they can stand firm on God's promises like the Israelites did.

The mysterious they, in this case, are the Samaritans who wanted to form an unholy alliance with the Jews as they rebuilt the temple. The rebuilding of the temple was not significant to the Samaritans, yet they knew of its significance.
The Samaritans had a superficial understanding of God- they feared the Lord, yet served their own gods according to the rituals of the nations from whom they were carried away (2 Kings 17:24).

Why was idol worship such a concern? God says you shall have no other gods before ME (Exodus 20:3-5). Seemingly it's effortless to create idols, to have other gods in place of God. Today for us it can be money, family, jobs, people. In Bible times, they were diverse gods that influenced cultures and nations. And just like today, it's quite easy to get sucked into worshipping other gods. Who or what you worship shows your priorities. God says, just in case it's not clear, make ME your first priority. Seek ME first, and everything else will follow (Matthew 6:33). The Samaritans knew of God, yet served their own gods. Idol worship and its effects will play a prominent role towards the end of this book.

The Samaritans wanted to become partners in the building work; however, they were adversaries. Their hearts are revealed when they are rightfully rebuffed. The leaders of the Jews, Zerubabel and Jeshua and the rest of heads of households uniformly said no. We see the unity demonstrated in Ezra 3 in the leaders' response.

So now the Samaritans try to frustrate Gods plan - Then the local residents tried to discourage and frighten the people of Judah to keep them from their work. They bribed agents to work against them and to frustrate their plans. This went on during the entire reign of King Cyrus of Persia and lasted until King Darius of Persia took the throne (Ezra 4:4-5). The timeframe is significant; they succeeded in stopping rebuilding efforts for approximately 15-18 years.

As we continue through this book, we'll see that what appeared to be victorious for the Jewish adversaries was not; their only victory was to delay the work not to defeat the work. The enemies of God are never victorious but wreak havoc in the process. 

Reflections - Your tough time is temporary. You may not know it, but God does. However, temporary for you may seem like a long time, but as a child of God, He is working on your behalf - changing hearts and situations, so that you are the recipient of His promise to you. Bad things are bad; the Israelites knew this as they dealt with their adversaries that thwarted their plans. But He makes all things work together for good to those who love Him (Romans 8:28). He makes all things beautiful in HIS time (Ecclesiastes 3:11). We see in this chapter how an envious person acts, and our Godly response to it: rebuff it and stay the course knowing that God is working through us and on us as we do what he has called us to do.

Prayer - Dear Lord, give us Godly wisdom and boldness to rightfully rebuff those that don't come alongside us when we are obedient to you. As we work, keep us focused on you so that you supernaturally strengthen us for the journey. But help us to remember we're not in this alone. Instead, may we surround ourselves with godly men and women who have a heart for you so that we are unified in our purpose and our responses to our adversaries. Remove doubt and fill us with peace and reassurance. Thank you for the work you are doing in us and those around us. Amen.


Note - Ezra 4:1-5 provides a broad outline of the efforts of the exiles enemies first under King Cyrus. Ezra 4:6-23 then provides detail about what happens under Artaxerxes; these verses were written initially in Aramaic. Finally, Ezra 4:24 summarizes the entirety of their resistance - through the second year of King Darius' reign.


Resources:
Gotquestions.org
Logos Bible Software
Scofield Reference Bible
Bible Gateway

--Nylse

Thanks for reading. Please take a moment to share using the buttons below and also please like my Facebook Page and follow on Instagram. Don't forget to subscribe. Stay Encouraged!

7 comments:

  1. I'm so glad we're not in this alone! Knowing the presence of God is with me, is such a huge blessing in my life. And I haven't even begun to tap into the fullness of it. Thanks for sharing these encouraging stories from Ezra.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Sometimes, it is hard to see Romans 8:28, but He is working, we just have to let go and stay out of His way.

    ReplyDelete
  3. My good husband and I just read through Ezra and Nehemiah together, and I love the story arc of God's rescue in the midst of judgment.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I love that we don't have to fight our own battles, and even so many years later we can learn from our brothers and sisters in the Bible.
    Blessings to you, Nysle and thanks for sharing this encouragement.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Thank you Nylse. I love the book of Ezra, and I agree, sometimes temporary does feel like forever! BUT GOD! <— I love saying that! God knows. God sees. God is in control. Trust Him! Give Him time to work.

    Thanks for linking up at InstaEncouragements!

    ReplyDelete
  6. This was lovely! I am finishing up a study on James soon and then will move on to Ezra, your posts have been great!

    ReplyDelete

I love reading your comments; but please be kind. Unkind comments will be removed.