Summary: Do you ever feel like everything is opposing you? That is what the remnant was experiencing. The first step to facing our opposition the right way is to "know our enemy."
In our walk as Christians and in our work as a church…
1. We must stand against the persistence of our opposition (4:4-7)
2. We must stand against the pervasiveness of our opposition (4:8-10)
3. We must stand against the persuasiveness of our opposition (4:11-16)
4. We must stand against the impediments of our opposition (4:17-24)
It never ceases to amaze me how wonderfully God put together His creation. I don’t have as much time to do it as I would like, but I love to just go out in the woods and look on all that God made. Each one of His creatures is incredibly different. But each one is perfectly suited to the nature that surrounds it. It’s amazing to me how animals, birds, and fish are perfectly equipped to deal with the environment God has placed them in. There is all of this political talk about extinction and global warming and all of that. But the opposition we give to nature is nothing compared to the opposition it gives itself. Part of God’s original curse after the fall was that there would be opposition in nature. To me, one of the most dramatic pictures of opposition in nature is the life cycle of Pacific Salmon. The eggs of Pacific Salmon hatch in very fast moving streams and rivers. Once they hatch, they spend their very early life around the nest. Then as they start to grow, they begin to swim downstream. They head downstream to the fast-moving rivers and then head down-river all the way until they eventually get to the Pacific Ocean. Then when they’re adults, guess what they do? They turn around and come back. By this time, they’re up to 1,000 miles away from where they started. And now it’s time to head back. But this time, it’s all upstream. Things aren’t too bad in the Ocean. They just have to deal with some outgoing tides and currents. But then they get to the river. It’s a lot harder to swim upstream in the river than it was to go against the tide in the ocean. And the closer and closer they get to their stream, the harder it gets. Tons and tons of water are opposed to them. Everything else is heading the other direction. And here they are, still swimming upstream. Then they finally get to their stream. Now that they’re closer to home, things are going to get easier, right? Wrong. Now they’re almost impossible. Because the streams are smaller, the water moves a whole lot faster. And now there are rocks and logs and falls to deal with. We’ve all seen pictures of salmon as they jump up raging waterfalls. That happens when they get close to the end of their journey. After they’ve already come hundreds of miles. All of them upstream. Everything is against them. Everything is opposition. And the farther they go, the harder it seems to get. Have you ever felt like that’s the way your life is? Do you ever feel like that’s what your Christian walk has become? All uphill. Full of opposition? That is exactly what the remnant was feeling. The first time opposition came, they almost responded the right way. They responded with discernment. They recognized the opposition for what it was. They responded with determination. They purposed to stand in the face of the opposition and get the job done anyway. But even though they got all of that right, they still messed up. They messed up because they claimed the Babylonian King Cyrus as their authority instead of God. And because they did that, later on, they weren’t able to stand when the opposition came. In our passage tonight, the remnant is facing a barrage of continual opposition. They’re like that salmon in the home stretch of swimming upstream. They’re facing waterfall after waterfall after waterfall. And finally, they do what many of those salmon do. Finally, they just give up. See, only a portion of the salmon make it all the way back to lay their eggs in the place where they started. Many of them give up and die along the way. They give in to the opposition. That’s what the remnant did. As we’ll see later on, they gave up. They quit building and didn’t do anything for 16 years. In our Christian walk, we face opposition every day. As we move forward in the work of this church, we will face opposition in accomplishing God’s work. How are we going to face it? How will you face it in your personal walk with Jesus? How will we face it in this church’s work for Jesus? I want us to face it head on. I want us to face it with our eyes wide open. And I want us to face it with God the Father as our authority, God the Son as our victory, and God the Spirit as our power. But in order to do that, we need to know our enemy. We need to know the nature of the enemy who will oppose us. So in this passage, we’re going to see four characteristics of our opposition. First, we must stand against the persistence of our opposition.