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Okay, last time we met we talked about how the opposition sent a letter to the King. Today in Ezra 4:17-24 we learn the result of that letter.
17 The king sent an answer: “To Rehum the commander and Shimshai the scribe and the rest of their associates who live in Samaria and in the rest of the province Beyond the River, greeting. And now 18 the letter that you sent to us has been plainly read before me. 19 And I made a decree, and search has been made, and it has been found that this city from of old has risen against kings, and that rebellion and sedition have been made in it. 20 And mighty kings have been over Jerusalem, who ruled over the whole province Beyond the River, to whom tribute, custom, and toll were paid. 21 Therefore make a decree that these men be made to cease, and that this city be not rebuilt, until a decree is made by me. 22 And take care not to be slack in this matter. Why should damage grow to the hurt of the king?”
23 Then, when the copy of King Artaxerxes’ letter was read before Rehum and Shimshai the scribe and their associates, they went in haste to the Jews at Jerusalem and by force and power made them cease. 24 Then the work on the house of God that is in Jerusalem stopped, and it ceased until the second year of the reign of Darius king of Persia.
I read through these verses and you know what my first thought was “those dirty rotten stinkers! They got their way!!!!!!” Makes me angry! I KNOW.. silliness on my part this is all so in the past.
But the fact remains they sent a letter and the king did his due diligence and decided the work was to stop. He didn’t want trouble during his reign. I can’t really fault him for that. He was alerted to a potential problem and stopped it from becoming a problem.
I think the part that really made me think of them as stinkers is this part “Then, when the copy of King Artaxerxes’ letter was read before Rehum and Shimshai the scribe and their associates, they went in haste to the Jews at Jerusalem and by force and power made them cease. 24 Then the work on the house of God that is in Jerusalem stopped, and it ceased until the second year of the reign of Darius king of Persia.“
It’s the “in haste and by force and power” part. It’s like they could hardly wait and now they had a reason to use force. All because the Israelites chose to be obedient and work on the temple by themselves.
It makes me wonder you know…what causes such animosity? Is it the history of the Israelites? How they were supposed to be dedicated to God and they kept getting sidetracked by the things of the world? And here they were being very focused on keeping themselves safe and staying true to what the God has called them to do.
The work stopped. Completely. No building. Just living.
Was this a surprise to God? Of course not. He knew this would happen, he asked it of his people anyways. God does that. He asks us to do things that are hard, he helps us to become better than what we are, he allows us to face opposition and he still says “STAND”. The Israelites stood.
I have to tell you.. it’s not an easy thing to stand, to face up to opposition, to face up to being stopped, to know you can’t finish what God put you to task on. It’s hard to deal with that disappointment eh? Though at times it can be a relief, to know you don’t have to work on a given task, to just get on living your life, doing what you want.
It’s a hard thing… cause if you feel relief…it would be easy to also feel guilt. You can’t win… so it’s character building and trust making, and learning to wait…it’s all they could do, continue to wait on the Lord.
Isn’t that just a kicker? To spend all that time in captivity waiting for the Lord. Then you finally get your working papers and you get the foundations built, the walls are well underway and…you have to wait.
Remember….God wasn’t surprised. So when you or I have to wait for the right time, or feel put on hold, or things don’t go the way we thought they might, God is NEVER surprised. So remember to trust, to wait, to have faith, to know that the time will come, God is still in control. What else can we really do?
God’s control remains, build your faith.