The Days Of Ezra
In many ways today is no different than during the times of Ezra. God’s people always face opposition. One of the central themes of Ezra is that, every work of God, draws the attention and opposition of the Enemy. God miraculously provided for the return of His people. He provided them great leaders to help chart the right path. However, God does not remove the opposition of evil. The same is true for us today. God has provided us with the atoning death of Christ, the perfect work of the Holy Spirit, and the blessing of godly servants in His church. However, each one who strives to do the works of God will meet the opposition of the devil. From Ezra’s experience we see at least three ways that Satan tries to undermine the faith and service of the people of God.
The first method of Satan to destroy the work of God is through the trap of compromise. Ezra illustrates two types of compromise. First, there is compromise with those who are only partly for God (Ezra 4:1-3). The people of the land offered to assist the Jews in their work, but Zerubbabel and Joshua refused their aid. These people were the Samaritans, a nation of mixed Jews and Gentiles. They were polytheist who simply worshiped Jehovah because they considered Him the god of the land. The Samaritans finally built their own temple on Mt. Gerazim and remained separated from the Jews. What a subtle temptation. It could be reasoned that they were family, of sort. And, they did worship the same God, after all. Plus, we need the workers, and we need the money. Such a compromise was flatly refused. Today, there are many people who claim to serve the Lord Jesus, but we cannot build with them because they do not serve Him according to His word. It’s tempting to think, “We could have more people to do good things. We could have more money to help others.” However, to build with those who are not wholeheartedly given to Jesus, is to corrupt the building of His temple.
The second trap Satan used to stall the work of God in Ezra’s time was the trap of discouragement (Ezra 4:4). Through the things they said and did, they tried to make the people of God think their situation was hopeless, so they ought to just give up. The forces against them were too strong to overcome. Their work would never amount to anything. So, the most prudent thing to do was to just give up. Oh, how Satan has stopped the work of God through discouragement. How many good elders have given up the work of shepherding because of criticism? How many talented gospel preachers gave it up, because their efforts seemed hopeless? How many people stopped telling others about Jesus, because the enemy discouraged them at one time? Is it possible that discouragement has done more harm to the people of God than immorality? If Satan can get God’s people to quit because they are discouraged then nothing else matters.
Thirdly, Satan used the trap of intimidation or persecutionto stall the work of God. The enemy wrote a letter to the authorities lying about Judah’s intention behind building the temple. It is just like Satan to use lies to destroy God’s work;, he did it in the garden. As a result of this letter, the governing authorities issued a stop work order. At a time when Israel should “obey God rather than men,” she coward under the intimidation of the ungodly. And for nearly 15 years the temple of God lay unfinished.
Satan’s tactics have not changed. They are tried and true. They have caused many to stop building their lives on the solid foundation of God’s word. Satan still tells us a little compromise will not make that big of a difference. “Just a little taste of the world will not hurt. After all God wants us to be happy.” Satan’s tactics have caused people to leave God’s people. And, yes, Satan still lies about God and God’s people today. Things have not really changed that much since the days of Ezra.