Faithlife Sermons

The Opposition to God's Work: The World Stands Against God's Workers Part 2

Ezra  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  39:17
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Scripture Reading: Ezra 4
Opening Prayer
Introduction / Review

I. The Purity of God’s People Matters (1-5)

Exposition 2 (6-23)
Ezra is now going to insert some information that happens later (about 50 years) when he and Zechariah are doing ministry in the land.
The temple is built and they are trying to rebuild the walls and the city and again the surrounding people are opposing them.
Why does Ezra include this information here?
Because Ezra, looking to the past, sees his present opposition as simple continuation of the opposition of the past. It is opposition that, just like last time, seeks to stand in opposition to the purity of God’s people.
Ezra 4:6–7 ESV
6 And in the reign of Ahasuerus, in the beginning of his reign, they wrote an accusation against the inhabitants of Judah and Jerusalem. 7 In the days of Artaxerxes, Bishlam and Mithredath and Tabeel and the rest of their associates wrote to Artaxerxes king of Persia. The letter was written in Aramaic and translated.
The people were faithful but the opposition didn’t go away
Ezra 4:8–16 ESV
8 Rehum the commander and Shimshai the scribe wrote a letter against Jerusalem to Artaxerxes the king as follows: 9 Rehum the commander, Shimshai the scribe, and the rest of their associates, the judges, the governors, the officials, the Persians, the men of Erech, the Babylonians, the men of Susa, that is, the Elamites, 10 and the rest of the nations whom the great and noble Osnappar deported and settled in the cities of Samaria and in the rest of the province Beyond the River. 11 (This is a copy of the letter that they sent.) “To Artaxerxes the king: Your servants, the men of the province Beyond the River, send greeting. And now 12 be it known to the king that the Jews who came up from you to us have gone to Jerusalem. They are rebuilding that rebellious and wicked city. They are finishing the walls and repairing the foundations. 13 Now be it known to the king that if this city is rebuilt and the walls finished, they will not pay tribute, custom, or toll, and the royal revenue will be impaired. 14 Now because we eat the salt of the palace and it is not fitting for us to witness the king’s dishonor, therefore we send and inform the king, 15 in order that search may be made in the book of the records of your fathers. You will find in the book of the records and learn that this city is a rebellious city, hurtful to kings and provinces, and that sedition was stirred up in it from of old. That was why this city was laid waste. 16 We make known to the king that if this city is rebuilt and its walls finished, you will then have no possession in the province Beyond the River.”
So we are not going to work through all the details here
Basically, there are still these people who lived in the promised land and were put there by the Assyrians or are leftover Cannanites
.They wrote a letter to the king while the people were trying to rebuild the walls and cities and they try to stop them by basically asserting that the people will rebel against the Persian empire if they are allowed to rebuild because they are troublemakers.
They call being faithful to God wickness
Does that sound familiar at all?
Recognize this, the world will always oppose God’s people.
The king responds with his letter
Ezra 4:17–23 ESV
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.
So basically they succeed. They stop the rebuilding for now
Ezra 4:24 ESV
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.
Ezra jumps back to the “present day” or back to chronological order. This actually foreshadows deliverance.

The world and it’s ruler will oppose God’s people and sometimes will seem to have the advantage (6-24)

John 16:33 ESV
33 I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
Building projects
Mission endeavors
Matthew 16:18 tells us that God is building His church
It’s not up to you or me but God
We are just the workers
In this story, the people were mistaken, they thought they could thwart the plans of the Jews but did not realize that they were standing in opposition to the one true God
The verse in Matthew goes on to tell us that the gates of hell will not prevail against the church that God is building.
This should spur you on to faithfulness
Be faithful in evangelism
Be faithful in holy living
Be faithful raising your family for the Lord
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