EZRA 4:1-2: “When the enemies of Judah and Benjamin heard that the returned exiles were building a temple for ADONAI the God of Israel, they approached Zerubbabel and the leading patriarchs and said to them, “Let us build with you, for like you we seek your God and have been sacrificing to Him since the days of Esarhaddon, king of Assyria, who brought us here.” TLV
OBSERVATION: Am I ready for opposition? Am I walking in wisdom and discernment with regards to the enemy’s tactics? Paul writes,
- “Now anyone you forgive, I also forgive. For indeed, what I have forgiven (if I have forgiven anything), I did it for you in the presence of Messiah, so that we might not be outwitted by satan—for we are not ignorant of his schemes.” 2 Corinthians 2:10-11 TLV
Ezra chapter 4 gives us some insight into how the enemy tries to outwit us. If we endeavor to do something of import for the Kingdom of God, rest assured, we will face his opposition. Paul made it very clear when he wrote to young Timothy – “Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Messiah Yeshua will be persecuted.” 2 Timothy 3:12 TLV
The first thing the enemy tries to do is to infiltrate our plans with people who pretend to be supportive, but who in reality will simply try to oppose what we are doing. I have found this to be true over and over again in the ministry. If someone’s encouragement and support seems to good to be true, it usually is. This is not a call to be distrusting of people, or to look for the worst in everyone. It is simply a call to be discerning. Usually in their story you will discover some great inconsistencies. These are a warning to move cautiously. It is better to have a few faithful supporters then a host of supporters who really have a hidden agenda.
Ezra and the leaders of Jerusalem did not fall for this trick. So what did the enemy do? He went to plan “B” – discouragement!
- “Then the people of the land began discouraging the people of Judah and making them afraid to build. They bribed advisors in order to thwart their plans all the days of King Cyrus of Persia and until the reign of Darius king of Persia.” Ezra 4:4-5 TLV
Discouragement is such a powerful tool of the enemy. He knows it aims right at the heart of what we are doing. It steals one’s passion, energy, and perseverance. It is aimed at getting us to lose heart and simply give up the work. When these attacks come, God’s grace and His promises are greater than the enemy’s accusations. We need to rise up in faith and hold on to the promises of God! If we refuse to give into discouragement we will be victorious!
- “So let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we don’t give up. Therefore, whenever we have an opportunity, let us do good toward all—especially those who belong to the household of faith.” Galatians 6:9-10 TLV
Yet, the enemy is not done. If he cannot infiltrate our work with the wrong people, if he cannot discourage us and cause us to quite, then he will try to block our work through external means. The enemies of Ezra and the children of Israel wrote an accusing letter and sent it to the king. When the king read it, he called for the work of the Temple to be brought to a halt, until he could research the allegations. The allegations were about the past sins and insurrections of the Jewish people. And the reason they were so powerful – is because they were true!
Satan is the accuser of the brethren. He delights in trying to use our past to stop our present. He will continually bring up our old sins and failures to try and keep us from pursuing our calling from God. How do we overcome these accusations? We do it with two powerful weapons!
- “Then I heard a loud voice in heaven saying, “Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Anointed One, for the accuser of our brothers and sisters—the one who accuses them before our God day and night—has been thrown out. They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives even in the face of death.” The Revelation 12:10-11 TLV
The blood of Jesus Christ has redeemed us and cleansed us from all the failures of our past! It was the blood on the doorposts of Israel’s homes that delivered them in Egypt. It is the blood of Jesus Christ, poured out on the cross of Calvary, that delivers us from the power, penalty, and shame of sin! There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus!
What is our testimony? It is simply – Jesus is Lord! He is Lord over our lives. He is Lord over our calling! He is Lord over all the affairs and concerns of our life. He is the one who opens doors that no one can shut, and shuts doors that no one can open. The enemy, the accuser, the infiltrator, the discourager, is powerless in the presence of the risen and glorified Christ! Jesus Christ is Lord!
- “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, so that He may lift you up at the appropriate time. Cast all your worries on Him, for He cares for you. Stay alert! Watch out! Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, searching for someone to devour. Stand up against him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being laid upon your brothers and sisters throughout the world. After you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace—who has called you into His eternal glory in Messiah—will Himself restore, support, strengthen, and establish you. All power to Him forever! Amen.” 1 Peter 5:6-11 TLV
The Temple, under Ezra and Zerubbabel’s leadership, was rebuilt! The Lord led them through all of the opposition of their enemies. I need to be reminded that the Lord will do the same for me as I trust in Him. As I endeavor to follow the Lord, there will be opposition. It will come from both within and without. Yet, God’s promises are sure. If I trust in Him, if I humble myself under His mighty hand, He will always lead me to victory. This victory may look different than I had originally pictured it, but it will be a victory none the less. And it will not only be a victory that I can celebrate, it will be a victory that will transform my heart into the image of Jesus Christ.
Lord, help me discern the difference between doors that you close and the attacks of the enemy to keep me from following your calling in my life. As I learn to wait upon You, as I abide in Your Word, and listen to the still small voice of Your Spirit, help me to persevere into the pathway of victory that You will lay before me. Give me grace to resist the enemy and to overcome him through the blood of the Lamb, and the word of my testimony.
Today I proclaim – Jesus is Lord! Jesus is my Lord!
In Jesus Name!