God’s work cannot be advanced but Satan will rage and the gates of hell will fight against it. Wonder not at the church’s enemies but keep an eye single to God who will ultimately give the victory.
1 Now when the adversaries of Judah and Benjamin heard that the children of the captivity builded the temple unto the LORD God of Israel;
2 Then they came to Zerubbabel, and to the chief of the fathers, and said unto them, Let us build with you: for we seek your God, as ye do; and we do sacrifice unto him since the days of Esar-haddon king of Assur, which brought us up hither.
3 But Zerubbabel, and Jeshua, and the rest of the chief of the fathers of Israel, said unto them, Ye have nothing to do with us to build an house unto our God; but we ourselves together will build unto the LORD God of Israel, as king Cyrus the king of Persia hath commanded us.
4 Then the people of the land weakened the hands of the people of Judah, and troubled them in building,
5 And hired counsellors against them, to frustrate their purpose, all the days of Cyrus king of Persia, even until the reign of Darius king of Persia.
6 And in the reign of Ahasuerus, in the beginning of his reign, wrote they unto him an accusation against the inhabitants of Judah and Jerusalem.
7 ¶ And in the days of Artaxerxes wrote Bishlam, Mithredath, Tabeel, and the rest of their companions, unto Artaxerxes king of Persia; and the writing of the letter was written in the Syrian tongue, and interpreted in the Syrian tongue.
8 Rehum the chancellor and Shimshai the scribe wrote a letter against Jerusalem to Artaxerxes the king in this sort:
9 Then wrote Rehum the chancellor, and Shimshai the scribe, and the rest of their companions; the Dinaites, the Apharsathchites, the Tarpelites, the Apharsites, the Archevites, the Babylonians, the Susanchites, the Dehavites, and the Elamites,
10 And the rest of the nations whom the great and noble Asnappar brought over, and set in the cities of Samaria, and the rest that are on this side the river, and at such a time.
11 ¶ This is the copy of the letter that they sent unto him, even unto Artaxerxes the king; Thy servants the men on this side the river, and at such a time.
12 Be it known unto the king, that the Jews which came up from thee to us are come unto Jerusalem, building the rebellious and the bad city, and have set up the walls thereof, and joined the foundations.
13 Be it known now unto the king, that, if this city be builded, and the walls set up again, then will they not pay toll, tribute, and custom, and so thou shalt endamage the revenue of the kings.
14 Now because we have maintenance from the king’s palace, and it was not meet for us to see the king’s dishonour, therefore have we sent and certified the king;
15 That search may be made in the book of the records of thy fathers: so shalt thou find in the book of the records, and know that this city is a rebellious city, and hurtful unto kings and provinces, and that they have moved sedition within the same of old time: for which cause was this city destroyed.
16 We certify the king that, if this city be builded again, and the walls thereof set up, by this means thou shalt have no portion on this side the river.
17 ¶ Then sent the king an answer unto Rehum the chancellor, and to Shimshai the scribe, and to the rest of their companions that dwell in Samaria, and unto the rest beyond the river, Peace, and at such a time.
18 The letter which ye sent unto us hath been plainly read before me.
19 And I commanded, and search hath been made, and it is found that this city of old time hath made insurrection against kings, and that rebellion and sedition have been made therein.
20 There have been mighty kings also over Jerusalem, which have ruled over all countries beyond the river; and toll, tribute, and custom, was paid unto them.
21 Give ye now commandment to cause these men to cease, and that this city be not builded, until another commandment shall be given from me.
22 Take heed now that ye fail not to do this: why should damage grow to the hurt of the kings?
23 ¶ Now when the copy of king Artaxerxes’ letter was read before Rehum, and Shimshai the scribe, and their companions, they went up in haste to Jerusalem unto the Jews, and made them to cease by force and power.
24 Then ceased the work of the house of God which is at Jerusalem. So it ceased unto the second year of the reign of Darius king of Persia.
Ezra 4 – J. Vernon McGee
Ezra 4:1-10 – The Building of the Temple Opposed
So long as you lead a languid and unaggressive life, the enemy will leave you alone, but directly you begin to build God’s temple, you may count on His strenuous opposition. When we are permitted to go on from day to day without much temptation, we may fear that we are doing little to destroy evil and construct good. But the virulent hate of the wicked one is a comfortable sign that his kingdom is suffering serious damage. Let us so live that we may give the devil good reason to fear and hate us. There is a stronger than he. We must beware of the proposal to join in with the ungodly. Their arguments may sound very fair and appeal to a false liberality of sentiment, but the golden cup contains poison, and beneath the kiss is the traitor’s hand. This is why so many fair enterprises have miscarried. They have seemed to afford common ground for cooperation with the false and counterfeit Israel, but they have ended in disillusion and disappointment. Though the Jews excited the intense hatred and opposition of their would-be helpers, their policy of exclusiveness was amply justified by the result. The old proverb reminds us that we must never trust our enemies when they offer blandishments and gifts. —Through the Bible Day by Day
Ezra 4:2—Let us build with you.
At first the world does its best to intimidate the Church; then it asks to be permitted to join with it. A most subtle temptation this. The child of God is greatly inclined to yield; the proposal seems so harmless, and so likely to be a means of blessing to the poor, hungry, weary world. But there is only one condition on which the world may be admitted; it must yield a true and humble submission to the cross, and be willing to give up all for Jesus—conditions which the world will not consider for a moment; and so its heart is filled with bitterness and gall, and it sets itself to hinder where it had professed willingness to help.
There are five things of which we are expressly bidden to beware—they are five phases of an unequal yoke: fellowship with unrighteousness; communion with darkness; concord with Belial; part with an unbeliever; agreement with idols. Let us beware of these things, and cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit. There may seem to be great loss and needless sacrifice in dispensing with the help of Rehum and Shimshai; but if once we accepted their help, we should discover to our cost that they were adversaries still, and that their only desire was to retard our efforts.
We sometimes shrink from some great undertaking for God, and are inclined to accept the proffered aid of wealthy but ungodly men. But their help may be purchased by the cost of all that makes our work worth doing. “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness?” (2 Corinthians 6:14)
“Yea, with one mouth, O world, though thou deniest,
Stand thou on that side, for on this am I.” —Our Daily Homily
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5 And hired ______________________ against them, to __________________ their ______________, all the days of Cyrus king of Persia, even until the reign of Darius ________ of Persia.
6 And in the reign of Ahasuerus, in the beginning of his reign, wrote they unto him an ____________________ against the ______________________ of Judah and Jerusalem.
8 Rehum the ____________________ and Shimshai the ____________ wrote a letter against Jerusalem to Artaxerxes the king in this sort:
Ezra 4:11-24 – The Enemy’s Short-Lived Triumph
The promoters of this letter were descendants of the heathen colonists who had been sent into the land by the Assyrians, II Kings 17:24. It was written to the then reigning monarch, Artaxerxes, which Ezra seems to have copied from the records of Persia, because it stands in the original in the Chaldee language. Notice that now the Israelites are first called Jews, i.e., Judahites, Ezra 4:12. They urge that the Temple-building should be stayed for the king’s own sake. Secret enmity to God’s kingdom is often hidden under pretended devotion to Caesar, John 19:12. We, too, have our maintenance from the God of heaven, we have eaten the salt of the palace, Ezra 4:14; and we should never allow His name to be dishonored without doing our best to prevent it. The king was imposed upon by their representations, and ordered the work to cease. But it is probable that something was due to the supineness of the Jews, who were already half-hearted in their endeavors, Haggai 1:2-9. The rebuilding of the Temple stopped during the reigns of Cambyses and the Magia Smerdis; but in the second year of Darius Hystaspes it was recommenced, and was then finished in four years, or nineteen years after its commencement, Zechariah 8:9; Haggai 2:18. —Through the Bible Day by Day