Tag Archives: enemies

Adversaries and Advocates

Ezra 5-7 presents the Spiritual battle with Kingdom of God work. The adversaries brought allegations and rumors about the motives for rebuilding the Temple. In the work of God, there will be many insiders and outsiders that will question the motivation of pastors, ministers and laymen. No one is exempt from the scrutiny that “Man” brings against the work of God. At this point anyone in ministry must remember that there is politics in Church. To not recognize this is fact goes beyond naivety into just sticking our heads in the sand. The people who had lived and occupied the city and surrounding area resisted any changes to their world. Anyone in ministry understands the problems of trying to change/improve a Church congregation. People all people acquiesce to a place of comfort. Once there they don’t want to be moved – even if the changes are for the better. We live in a difficult time of ministry to the Body of Christ. Too many Churches are dying. It has become epidemic across denominations and America. Estimates project that America could close 100,000 church within the next five years. [Quote from Thom Rainer]. As a revitalizationist, I have found that some Churches would rather die than do what is necessary to live. The resistance that Ezra and the Jews experienced from the local people is not that dissimilar to what we find in our own neighborhoods. In Ezra there were letters written filled with accusations against the work.¬† I know pastors receive letters, many times unsigned from people who are disgruntled. I had some good advice as a young pastor – if people haven’t signed them – shred them. Back to our passage – King Darius instigates a search through the historical records to find out if the accusations are true or false. In the search, Darius finds King Cyrus’ decree allowing the Jews to rebuild. The records substantiated the work and the Temple restoration began again. There is another application here – especially for the Believer: Satan will contest any and all movements to live a holy life. He will bring accusations against the brethren. Satan is a liar, and the father of lies. So many people have tried to restore their lives through the work of God, only to have their failures and motives brought into question. All of us are guilty of sin and rebellion. Satan would rather that we wallow in our failure rather than bask in the glory of Jesus Christ’s redemptive forgiveness!

In chapter 6, we have the Temple restored and the celebration of worship through the Passover. The Temple, which believers are has to be restored when life and sin have devastated and destroyed the place of worship to our King Jesus. It takes work, hard work to stay the course to restoration. I have met so many people who felt because they had fallen back into sin, or lapsed into some rebellious behavior, that they lost their salvation and were no longer fit for God use. Our God is longsuffering and merciful – our salvation has never been based on our behaviors, but the Saviors blood and righteousness. The foundation of our salvation is the Finished work of the Cross by Jesus. So don’t let Satan or any of hos emissaries try to destroy your faith. While we will always have adversaries we MUST remember that we have a Great High Priest and Advocate that is defending us before the Father in Heaven. Jesus our Savior and Advocate is our defense against the wiles of Satan. We are not strong enough to defeat Satan – but he has already been defeated – do not let his lies imprison us again. Romans 8:1 – no condemnation!

The scriptures tell us that righteous, godly living by us that the Father will make even our enemies to be at peace with us. King Artaxerxes reacts favorable towards Ezra when he visits in Chapter 7. Throughout chapter seven, we hear of the graciousness of King Artaxerxes towards the Jews and specifically the work of Ezra, the priest, the scribe and the man of God.

If America is to be a righteous nation, it must deal with its failures and sin. There is great devastation in the Land. Many evil spirits are at work to destroy anything that can be used to proclaim the Glory of God. There are churches and individuals that must correct their “lives” and rid themselves of unholy behavior. There are thousands of churches that need to “get to work” instead of resisting the movement of God. Also there are Pastors who need to remember who called them to the ministry and not succumb to the wiles of the evil present in churches and the world!

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Get to Work-Altar First

Haggai, the prophet was a contemporary of Daniel. While Daniel was in Babylon, Haggai was among the Jews left behind. Under King Cyrus, the exiles began to return to Jerusalem. He even ordered timbers¬† and all manner of building materials shipped to Jerusalem for the restoration of the Temple. In Ezra, we find that Zerubbabel was leading the way. However, when the temple construction got under way, there was a great resistance from the people who had lived there the last 70 years. The opposition caused the builders to lose heart and stop the building. But they only stopped building the Temple, they in-turn used the cedar timbers that were sent to build, cedar lined houses for themselves. It wasn’t until Ezra returns to Jerusalem and finds the people “living comfortable lives” while the Temple still lay in ruins, and his prompting of them cause the Temple to get built. [Ezra 2 and 3]

Now Haggai, wrote in-between Zerubbabel’s and Ezra’s visits to Jerusalem. He challenges the returning exiles about why they have stopped working and why they are living lives of “luxury” when the devastation and destruction are so prominent?

A couple of things at this point; first when the exiles returned, they were to build the Temple – the Temple is first order of business. The reason seems clear – when there has been major devastation and destruction in our lives, from sin or some other tragedy, the first thing that must be restored in our lives in the PLACE of WORSHIP. We must come back to worshiping our Lord and Savior. The heart of worship is the altar. Don’t worry about the walls, the houses you will live in – get God back at the center of you lives. The exiles attempted to do this, but the enemy [Satan] demoralized them with opposition, and the sat down and quit. It is a difficult thing to rebuild the altar in your life. The enemy does not want you to restore your place of worship. The devil doesn’t mind you building for yourself, but do not rebuild the place of God in your life. When Haggai gets to Jerusalem he finds the exiles “living among the ruins” – key point here again, Satan doesn’t mind you building for yourself, he will even convince you that you are better off taking care of you than trying to fight against the opposition for the place of the Lord.

I am sure that when the exiles returned and saw how great the damage was, they sat down and cried. We see this all the time today with hurricanes, earthquakes, and tornadoes. People are devastated by the destruction – but they vow to rebuild against all opposition.

Haggai addresses the people; they have planted and tried to till the ground but no harvest. Haggai tells the people the problem – you are disobedient to God. The Lord had persuaded gentile kings to provide the building materials and the people of God lost heart to build! We find that Zerubbabel is encouraged, as are the people. In fact that is what is stated 2:4-5, take courage, do not fear – My spirit is abiding with you. Three times the phrase “take courage” is stated. The same message given to Joshua before entering the Promised Land.¬† The task of rebuilding is always difficult – and surely the Temple would not look like the Solomon Temple in all its grandeur, but it would be the Temple where God’s glory would return. The built in 3 months the Temple, and I am sure there were many who were disappointed in what it looked like.

When life throws us into a pit of despair, get the Altar rebuilt! Get your worship back remember the God of the universe loves you. Once the worship is restored, then other places can be built. The building of the Temple was medicine – the people I am sure as they dug through the rubble wept greatly; as the saw what use to be. Looking at all the memories and brokenness, yet God was able to build again. We have to grieve over loss, but not get stuck in our grieving. The work of rebuilding our lives, with the altar of worship intact is medicine to the believer. Do not let the enemy cause you to lose heart!

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Filed under 16 Prophets in 2016