Ezra Part 8: Know Your Enemy
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; 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 king of Assur, which brought us up hither. 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. 4 Then the people of the land weakened the hands of the people of Judah, and troubled them in building, 5 And hired counsellers against them, to frustrate their purpose, all the days of Cyrus king of Persia, even until the reign of Darius king of Persia.
Illustration - SHow video of Holme Moss - discernment
Most Christians today lack discernment
Discernment- The ability to Judge well. To take all things into account and make an educated decision.
Discernment in Scripture is the skill that enables us to differentiate. It is the ability to see issues clearly. We desperately need to cultivate this spiritual skill that will enable us to know right from wrong. We must be prepared to distinguish light from darkness, truth from error, best from better, righteousness from unrighteousness, purity from defilement, and principles from pragmatics. J. Stowell, Fan The Flame, Moody, 1986, p. 44.
One of the biggest areas we fail in, is the discernemnt of our Enemy and his tatics of warfare.
You see whereever God’s work is being done the war against that work is raging. When the people of God get about God’s work, there will be oppostion.
You know the enemey goal is to stop the work of God, it has been from day one and will be untill his time is done. He aim to stop the work, and sideline the workers
In Ezra Chapter 4 we pickup where the work has begun again, as we looked at last time as we finished chapter 3. The temple is being built, and no sooner has the work began again, that the enemy tries to thwart that work, trying to stop it before its even really got started.
As we look back through the anals of time at this, we want to pick out 4 tatics that the enemy uses as he wages his wafare. THe tatics he used then are still the same tatics he uses today, and we have to be discerning of them. We have to know our enemy
transition : Tactic number one - Inflitration, look at verses 1 and 2
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; 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 king of Assur, which brought us up hither.
look at how scriture defines these people
The hebrew word means enemies, those who cause oposition, distress, affliction
not friends but foes
we have met thsese folks already in the narrartive
3 And they set the altar upon his bases; for fear was upon them because of the people of those countries: and they offered burnt offerings thereon unto the Lord, even burnt offerings morning and evening.
Now the origin of these adversaries went back to when the nothern kingdom of israel, often known as samaria, was captured by the king of assyria
6 In the ninth year of Hoshea the king of Assyria took Samaria, and carried Israel away into Assyria, and placed them in Halah and in Habor by the river of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes.
A later King then populated Samaria with people from Assyria and Babylon
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.
The adversaries hear , that the returning jews are rebuilding the temple, and they send a delegation with an offer
verse 2 “let us build with you”
now that seems harmless, doesnt it.
The more the merrier
many hands make light work isnt that what they say?
but again, let me be clear on the designation the word of God gives these people
This is Satans number one tactic
13 For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. 14 And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.
the devil tried persecution of the early Church
it just spread the gospel
but infiltration has caused infintely more damage that persecution ever has
Just because somebody comes in the name of Christ, doesnt mean they are of Him or truely from Him
19 They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.
Notice how the adversaries claim commonality
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 king of Assur, which brought us up hither.
we seek your God, your God is our God, we are practically the same
that the cry of the eccumeniclists today
of the co exist movement, if you have ever seen the bumper sticker
The problem is that there can only be one God, which is soemthing the adversaries didnt care for
33 They feared the Lord, and served their own gods, after the manner of the nations whom they carried away from thence.
The goal here infiltration, the same tatic the enemy uses so sucessfully today
Second tactic we see on display, is interuption, look at verse 3-4 with me
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. 4 Then the people of the land weakened the hands of the people of Judah, and troubled them in building,
notice the clear response to the proposition to work together
“ye have nothing to do with us”
oh that, that would be the response of Church elders up and down the land, when the false teachers, the wolves and adversaires come knocking at the door
the leadership where clear as clear could be
now soem would say, that that it wasnt a very nice response
but as HL Rossier states
Had they aquiiesced the work woul dhave been ruined from the start
A new testament equivilant of the response given would be the thought of 2 Cor 6:15
15 And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?
How do the adveraries respond?
well they show their true colours and move from friend to foe
if they cant stop the work from the inside
they aim to interupt the work from the outside by means of i
4 Then the people of the land weakened the hands of the people of Judah, and troubled them in building,
the word weakened carriries the tthought sof discoruagement, to dishearten
the word troubled means to frighten, to make fearful
the enemey went on the attack
those tactics ring a bell?
you faced that in your own life?
even now with the coronavirus?
the enemy is using the same tactic today as he did then
there are many within the body of Christ who are distressed and discoruaged
but thats not how wer are to be
8 We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; 9 Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed;
so we have seen the tactic of Infiltration deployed, when that failed a programme of itimnidation began, and finally there is the tactic of irritation, look at verse 5
5 And hired counsellers against them, to frustrate their purpose, all the days of Cyrus king of Persia, even until the reign of Darius king of Persia.
they hired people to frustrate their purpose
this was a war of attrition and the enemy didnt give up easily
Now this is clear today
I don’t know about you, but sometimes it seems like to the battle is too hard to fight, that the enemey just doesnt give up
illustration - LGBT and same sex marriage lobbyists - Northern Ireland Example
When your fighting everyday, when every turn towards God’s truth leads to difficulties
when the message we preach is so divisive to a lost world, that eveyrhwere you go you are rallied upon because you speak truth
it gets frustrating, you lose patientience
lose the will to fight
and thats what the enemies wants you to do, he wants you to stop fighting, he wants you sidelined
he wants the Church to compromise, to let error in
In this battle our enemy doesnt fight fair
there are no rules of engagemnet
our enemy is always on the prowl
8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:
you see wqhen we get frustarted we let our guard down
we stop our bible reading
we stop our prayer life
we leave the gate open for the lion that prowls back and forward day and night just waiting for that gate to open
The retruning remnant of Ezra chapter 4 where engaged in a battle, and the enemy waged war using the following tatctics
Infiltration - to destroy the work from the inside out
Intimidation - to destrouy the work form the outside in
Irritation - to destroy the will of the workers
all weapons of the enmies warfare, still in operation today.
So what are we to do, well firstly we are to know our enemy, and be discerning of his methods.
During the cold war the ten commandments of spying “ten commandments” where formed, known as the “moscom rules”
Some of these rules include: “assume nothing,” “don’t look back,” “there is no limit to a human being’s ability to rationalize the truth,” “maintain a natural pace,” “…if it feels wrong, it is wrong….”
Former CIA operatives, isay that these rules are used by agents around the globe today. Many of these rules boil down to trusting instincts, or to put it another way, having good discernment
We battle a foe that will not collapse or capitulate until the Lord returns, we have been given rules of engagement that we must follow for our own spiritual preservation in, as our foe is the most formidable of them all
We need to mature to the point of having our powers of discernment trained to fight this battle
13 For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. 14 But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.
This will give us the kind of instincts we need to be most aware of our enemies tactics
11 Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices.
We should not become paranoid or see problems where they do not exist, but we must not let our guard down either.
7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
we must learn to discern -
to discern the infiltarors when they come
to stand strong when intimdation comes
to hold on when irritaion comes
To do that we must know our enemy, and the waepons of His warfare.