Summary: Sermon 7 of the series. Ezra is very quick to remind us of the truth that ... 2 Tim. 3:12 Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. While Ezra is recording the opposition to the rebuilding of the temple, he adds materia
The Book of Ezra
Opposition: Part II
1. In what ways does Christianity go against the flow of society today?
2. What sacrifices do you think Christians have to make for their faith today?
3. What would you do if it were illegal to go to church?
4. What sacrifices do you think Christians may have to make in the future?
• 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.
• In our last study we saw the beginnings of the opposition to the rebuilding of the temple.
• The locals had a two-fold attack:
• 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.
• Ezra is very quick to remind us of the truth that ...
2 Tim. 3:12 Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.
• While Ezra is recording the opposition to the rebuilding of the temple, he adds material that relates to a much later time.
• Here we find the later opposition to Nehemiah as he rebuilds the walls.
I. Opposition Under Ahasuerus (6)
Ezra 4:6 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.
• Ezra first referred to the opposition from Israel’s enemies under King Ahasuerus (a regal title) or Xerxes (His Greek Name)
• Xerxes ruled at the time of Esther.
• We have all heard of Queen Esther.
• This is the king that made Esther his queen.
• This would be approximately (486-464 b.c.) (MacArthur)
• Since the Jews had already completed the temple in 515 B.C., this shows that the opposition was a constant and enduring obstacle.
QUOTE: "Without this foretaste of history to reveal the full seriousness of the opposition, we would not properly appreciate the achievements recorded in the next two chapters (5 and 6) nor the dangers hidden in the mixed marriages which Ezra would set himself to stamp out (chaps. 7—10)." (Kidner as quoted by Constable)
II. Opposition Under Artaxerxes (7-23)
• Ezra 4:7–23 then recounts opposition in Nehemiah’s day under Artaxerxes I (ca. 464–423 b.c.) expressed in a detailed letter of accusation against the Jews (vv. 7–16).
• Artaxerxes was the successor of Ahasuerus (Xerxes) who ruled the Persian Empire from 464 to 424 B.C.
• As best as we are able to determine, this opposition may be dated to 446 B.C.
• As we will see, this was a very serious and effective opposition.
• Most likely, this opposition is that also spoken of in Neh. 1:3.
A. The Companions in the Letter (7-10)
1. The Samaritans (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.
• The Samaritans vented their hostility by sending letters to Ahasuerus and Artaxerxes.
• The letter to Artaxerxes is outlined in this passage and was written by three Samaritans, Bishlam, Mithredath, and Tabeel.
• These may have been local officials, or perhaps they were spies for the king.
QUOTE: "Near Eastern kings used an elaborate system of informers and spies. Egyptian sources speak of the ’ears and eyes’ of the Pharaoh. Sargon II of Assyria had agents in Urartu whom he ordered, ’Write me whatever you see and hear.’ The efficient Persian intelligence system is described by Xenophon. The King’s Eye and the King’s Ear were two distinct officials who reported to the monarch. But God’s people could take assurance in their conviction that God’s intelligence system is not only more efficient than any king’s espionage network but is omniscient (cf. 2 Chron. 16:9; Zech. 4:10)." (Xenophon, Balcer and Yamauchi, quoted by Constable)
2 Chron. 16:9 For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him. Herein thou hast done foolishly: therefore from henceforth thou shalt have wars.
Zech. 4:10 For who hath despised the day of small things? for they shall rejoice, and shall see the plummet in the hand of Zerubbabel with those seven; they are the eyes of the Lord, which run to and fro through the whole earth.
• The final sentence of this verse probably means that the letter was written in Aramaic (the universal language of the area spoken by Jews and Gentiles alike), then it was translated into Persian for the king.