From bewilderment to celebration they begin their journey back to Jerusalem to rebuild God’s Temple in Judah. Sweet victory. God’s victory. It always is – it’s His idea, His movement, His provision, His doing that completes what He promises to complete. So, in God-fashion, He makes the way, set the plans in motion and moves & directs His people to return and rebuild His Temple which had always signified God’s dwelling among His people.
Whenever this happens, you can count on the one who feverishly, and always unsuccessfully, attempts to squash God’s plans. As God moves amongst people and places, setting His plans & purposes in motion, the Opposition is stirred to action, seeking to thwart efforts by any means possible. That’s where we find ourselves in Ezra 4:1-16. Opposition strikes at the heels of God’s plans and purposes. God’s people face 15-year long oppositional efforts (don’t miss that, that’s a long time); every angle imaginable is used. It has become quite clear that God’s people are not welcome to return and resume their God-worship and God-living and these “enemies” of God’s people certainly do not give their blessing to God’s temple being rebuilt.
I can imagine the discouragement, the self-doubt and the frustration. An apparent “victory march” has marched God’s people right into enemy territory and the enemy isn’t about to go quietly.
The strength and resolve to continue, to persevere and to complete their God-given task will require a deep-seated trust in the God behind the task. It was God who first announced the task, and who first made the initial provisions for the task. It was God’s plan from outset. And, it will require that God’s people not look inward (to their own abilities) or outward (at the surrounding circumstance) but upward to the One who is able to both begin plans and see them through.
God’s people need to decide who they’re going to put their hope & trust in. They’ve already been through episodes of shrinking back when they’ve taken their eyes off God and placed them on their enemy, sizing them up and determining that left to themselves, they are no match. They also remember the day God told them to stand still and watch God win their battle for them. They know their success stories. They also know their stories of failure. Who are they going to put their hope in?
In addition, God had told them repeatedly that they were blessed to be a blessing to the nations. Ultimately, God has always been up to something bigger than them. It’s a global work that God is doing.
With both of those in mind, the people of God can peaceably continue to move forward with their God-given task. They aren’t attempting to “fight back” against the accusations. Instead, they can stand firm on what God called them to do, knowing that God can see it through.
And what of today? What’s your outlook in any given situation around you? Where’s your focus? Outward (on your perceived enemies), inward (on your own limited and insufficient abilities) or upward (resting in who God is and the fact that He is able in ALL things, and “our things” are rather simple in comparison to the God who holds together the entire universe)
Blessings! : )