Week 6 – Lessons from the Prophets Cont’d
Day 4: Zechariah and Ministry – When the Enemy Frustrates our Purpose: Ezra 4
Zerubbabel took a stand and would not allow the Jew’s adversaries a place in the building of the temple. So, what was their response? They made life miserable:
“Then the people of the land weakened the hands of the people of Judah, and troubled them in building, and hired counselors against them, to frustrate their purpose…” (Ezra 4:4)
Their frustrating the purposes of Israel went so far that they eventually wrote a letter to Artexerxes accusing the Jews of building the city up so that they would be able to cease paying their tolls and taxes and would, therefore, damage the revenue of the kings. The letter, which is given in full in Ezra 4:11-16, is dripping with flattery and sugary, if not somewhat overstated, allegiance to the king. They encourage him to look in the records and find that Jerusalem is a rebellious city, one that should not be trusted.
Their ploy worked. Artaxerxes wrote back and called the building to a halt. In verse twenty-four we find the sad statement, “Then ceased the work of the house of God which is at Jerusalem.”
Lesson Number 3: Understand That Your Ministry Will Face Opposition. In this case, it came from those to whom a place in the building process had been denied. In your case, it may come from someone completely outside of your ministry, or it may come from someone deep within your ministry. Whatever the case, it comes from an adversary. These moments are never easy, especially when we thought the adversary was a friend. Events that bring the work to a halt can be discouraging, but they are a part of every ministry. It is important to remember that what seems like the death of a ministry, may simply be a time in which it is being driven into hibernation so that at the first signs of spring, God can cause it to bud forth with new fruit. The Jews were made to stop building, but it wasn’t their building project, it was God’s. And He wasn’t done yet.
Up Next: Week 6: Day 5 – Don’t Pour your Life into a Bag with Holes
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