The Book of Ezra
(Ezra 4:1-5, 24)
Opposition: Part I
* 1. What comes to your mind as an example of an offer that seemed “too good to be true”?
2. When have you distrusted an offer of help or favor?
• Chapter 3 told us of the rebuilding of the altar, the renewed sacrifices and feasts, and the laying of the foundation of the Temple.
• Now, chapter 4 takes a drastic turn.
• The sky of chapter 3 is the bright, sunny spirit of revival. Chapter 4 is dark indeed.
• Chapter 4 is the sudden storm that interrupted what seemed to be clear sailing.
• The Jews knew that true worship of Jehovah could not be fully enjoyed until the Temple stood again!
• Satan knew this too. And he rears his ugly head to oppose it’s construction.
I. THE COMMENCEMENT OF THE OPPOSITION (1)
Ezra 4:1 Now when the adversaries of Judah and Benjamin heard that the children of the captivity builded the temple unto the Lord God of Israel;
Notes on the reality of opposition.
“adversaries” - comes from a Hebrew root that also means “a pebble.” As a pebble in a shoe.
• Oh how we wish that instances of persecution were the exception.
• The Bible is an honest book. It tells us the truth.
• And the truth is that, as Paul tells us, ...
2 Timothy 3:12 Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.
• Peter tells us ...
1 Peter 4:12 Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you:
• The Apostle John tells us ...
1 John 3:13 Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you.
• Jesus himself told us ...
John 15:18-19 If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you.  If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.
• Satan has no demons assigned to stagnant churches!
• But for those that are moving forward, beware!
II. THE CHARACTERISTICS OF THE OPPOSITION (2-5)
A. COMPROMISE (2-3)
1. Their Offer Rendered (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 [NOTE: see book background box] king of Assur, which brought us up hither.
a. An Offer of Construction (2A)
• Anyone building can use some help.
• But there are people that you do not want helping you!
b. An Offer of Comparison (2B)
• We are just like you.
2 Kings 17:24 And the king of Assyria brought men from Babylon, and from Cuthah, and from Ava, and from Hamath, and from Sepharvaim, and placed them in the cities of Samaria instead of the children of Israel: and they possessed Samaria, and dwelt in the cities thereof.
2. Their Offer Refused (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.
ILLUSTRATION: (CREDIT KEN COLLIER AND GUY ROBERTS) BIRD IS LATE IN FLYING SOUTH. ICE STORM. FREEZES, DROPS IN SNOW IN N.C. COW DROPS WARM PATTY ON IT. IT THAWS AND CHIRPS HAPPILY. NEIGHBORING FARM CAT HEARD IT, DUG IT OUT AND ATE IT. MORAL: NOT EVERYONE THAT DROPS A PATTY ON YOU IS YOUR ENEMY, NOT EVERYONE THAT GETS YOU OUT OF THE PATTY IS YOUR FRIEND, SOMETIMES WHEN YOU HAVE HAD A PATTY DROPPED ON YOU, IT PAYS JUST TO KEEP YOUR MOUTH SHUT!
CONSIDER THE FOLLOWING OUTLINE BY ARTHUR C. DALTON.
a. The Authority for Their Refusal - Persian King
b. The Object of Their Refusal - Pure Religion
• These locals had made the claim that “we transplanted people need to stick together.”
• They argued, we are just like you.
• Such is not the case.
• The Jews respond, “Ye have nothing to do with us.”
• They say, This is to “our God.”
• The Samaritans worshiped Jehovah in “add-on fashion.” (Cf., 2 Kings 17)
• They simply added Him to their other Gods.
• This is not worship that the jealous God can accept.
• Eventually, they gave up hope of uniting with the Jews and built and apostate temple of their own on Mt. Gerazim.
• Years later, Jesus rebuke the descendants of these Samaritans. (John 4:20-24)
John 4:22 Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews.
2 Cor. 6:14 Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?
c. The Outcome of Their Refusal - Persecution (as we see in the next section of our notes).
• The test of a friend’s intention is not during smooth sailing and perfect agreement.
• The test of a friend’s loyalty is what happens when things are hard, when you disagree!
B. CONFRONTATION (4-5)
1. Local Opposition (4)
 Then the people of the land weakened the hands of the people of Judah, and troubled them in building,
• They probably threatened the people with physical force and thus made them fearful
• To weaken the hands of any one, means to deprive him of strength and courage for action. (K&D)
APPLY: When has someone influenced you and kept you from doing what you knew to be right.
2. Legal Opposition (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.
• Apparently, they hired consultants who appeared in the Persian court to misrepresent the Jewish community.
• They did this for a total of fourteen years.
III. THE CONSEQUENCES OF THE OPPOSITION (24)
Ezra 4:24 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.
• It is interesting to note the deception of the Samaritans.
• They accused the Jews of rebuilding Jerusalem.
• Orders were given not to build the city.
• However, it was not work on the city that stopped, but rather on the Temple.
• So for 16 years, from 536 b.c. to 520 b.c., work on rebuilding was halted. (MacArthur)
• Not until the rise of Darius (521-485 b.c.) did work resume.
• The people gave up hope of doing anything for God.
• They turned their attention to their own houses.
• The prophet Haggai must later rebuke them back into service on the Temple.
Haggai 1:2-6 Thus speaketh the Lord of hosts, saying, This people say, The time is not come, the time that the Lord’s house should be built.  Then came the word of the Lord by Haggai the prophet, saying,  Is it time for you, O ye, to dwell in your cieled houses, and this house lie waste?  Now therefore thus saith the Lord of hosts; Consider your ways.  Ye have sown much, and bring in little; ye eat, but ye have not enough; ye drink, but ye are not filled with drink; ye clothe you, but there is none warm; and he that earneth wages earneth wages to put it into a bag with holes.
Judas gave up. He didn’t have real faith to begin with.
John Mark gave up for a while. He had an unrealistic picture of the ministry.
Peter gave up for a while. His faith was too small to survive persecution.
Jesus was obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
• Satan has centuries of experience with mankind.
• Once he has learned that a trick works, he will play that hand again and again.
• What will it take to stop Calvary?
• What will it take to stop your pastor?
• What will it take to stop you?
• Satan knows, and he will try!
• But God forbid that we do his work ourselves!!!
• Let us be encouragers, not discouragers.
• Let us be bold in the faith!
Proverbs 24:10 If thou faint in the day of adversity, thy strength is small.
2 Tim. 1:6-8 Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands.  For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.  Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God;
ILLUS: Only The Exceptions Healthy. In describing the Nicene Council, Vance Havner said that not more than a dozen of the 318 delegates had not lost an eye or a hand or did not limp upon a leg shrunk in its sinews by the burning iron of torture. —Bible Expositor