July 3, 2017
Ezra 4-Part 2
Then the people of the land weakened the hands of the people of Judah, and troubled them in building. Ezra 4:4
LET IT GLOW
The Samaritans offered to help the Jews build the new Temple on the same site as the previous one in Jerusalem. However, Governor Zerubbabel, High Priest Jeshua, and other leaders refused their help. (The Samaritans were a mixed race of pagans and those Jews who remained in the land during the 70 year captivity, local residents. They worshiped idols.) Idolatry was the reason for Judah being deported to Babylon, so they wanted to avoid it again. Did this make the Samaritans angry?
How did the Samaritans react to this rejection?
- They weakened the hands of the people of Judah. In the Hebrew language, weakened is the word raphah (raw-faw'), which means slacken, leave, let alone, be still.(Strong's Exhaustive Concordance)
- They tried to discourage and frighten the people of Judah.
- They bribed agents to work against them and to frustrate their plans. (verse 4)
- This went on during the entire reign of King Cyrus of Persia and lasted until King Darius of Persia took the throne.
- They hired counselors against the Jews to frustrate their purpose. (verse 5)
- Those consultants appeared in the Persian court to misrepresent the Jewish community. They did this or a total of 14 years. (Falwell)
- Darius the Mede reigned in Babylon (522-486 BC) after Cyrus (559-530 BC). Then Ashasuerus, called Xerxes I, reigned in 485-465 BC.
- Haggai and Malachi prophesied during this time. Esther became queen of Persia by marrying Xerxes and later saved the lives of the Jews, her people. (478 BC)
- Artaxerxes I ruled from 465BC to 424 BC.
- Ezra was sent to Jerusalem later in 457 BC, leading the second group of Jews, who were 2,000 in number.
LET IT GROW
I recall a time when my husband got an accusing letter, unanimously, and delivered at our business. Was it stirring up trouble? It was concerning a church member living in sin, yet singing in the choir. Apparently the author did not have the courage to say it in person. Nothing was done about the letter, but in the meantime, the couple got married. so was it true? Doesn't matter now. People can try to cause messes. The Samaritan were stirring up trouble for the Jews, who were enduring hardships to rebuild Jerusalem and the Temple.
Two letters were sent to the kings with accusations against the Jews. The first one was sent to Ahasuerus, with no details given. The second letter was sent to Artaxerxes, was written by three men named in verse 7.
This letter, written in Aramaic instead of Hebrew, falsely accused, lied about, and slandered the Jews.
The letter mentioned 5 accusations:
- The Jews were building the rebellious city of Jerusalem.
- They would disregard or refuse to pay their taxes if the city was rebuilt.
- The honor of the king was at stake.
- Royal records would reveal the Jews were a rebellious people.
- The Jews might lead a revolt so the king could loose his land west of the Euphrates River.
Discouragement and fear can be two obstacles in our completing God's work. Discouragement eats away at our motivation, while fear keeps us from acting. God's people always faced opposition. When we are trying to live holy lives, those who live in sin will oppose us.
We read of encouragement from God in Isaiah 41:13 says, "For I the LORD thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee."
2 Timothy 1:7 says, For God hath not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
So let us hand in there by faith in God who is in control of our situation.
LET IT GO
Beware of lies, accusations, ridiculing, rumors, and those seeking to embarrass and shame me.
Be a true follower of Jesus Christ, no matter the suffering for it.