About Jesus Steve Sweetman
This Chapter - Chapter 4
In verses 1 and
2 we see that Israel
has some enemies. This is
So the enemies come up
with an idea. They don’t
want the temple built, and they don’t want Israel
to succeed in any kind of building projects.
They figure if they join forces, they’d eventually have
sufficient influence to sway them in their thinking.
This is a reasonable approach for the enemies of Israel
to take. The enemies of God do the same today, by spreading false
teaching into the church. Once
the mixture between what is true and what is false is accepted, what is
true is devalued and forsaken. Truth
does not mix with what is false, and if you do mix the two, you know
longer have the truth.
These enemies claimed
that they had actually worshipped the Jewish God for years, but in
reality they didn’t. They
were polytheists. They
worshipped all sorts of gods, and this worship, they figured they might
as well include the Jewish God.
One thing to understand
here is that there was a battle going on even though the battle wasn’t
with external weapons. Before
we can win any battle we must first recognize that there is a battle,
even though it may be unconventional in nature.
Once you know there is a battle you must determine the nature of
the battle and on what grounds it’s being fought.
Many Christians today don’t know there’s a battle because
much of what they do is in enemy territory.
Christians sometimes think more like the enemy than our Lord.
If this is the case, there doesn’t have to be a battle.
The enemy already has you.
In verse 3 we see Israel’s response to their enemies. It
was clear and decisive. No
one would help them build. Their
response should be our response today in building the spiritual temple
of our time. We do not use
helpers who are not Christians, and we don’t use their methods.
It is clear that
Verse 5 speaks of the
Jewish enemies hiring counselors to frustrate the Jews.
You might view or compare this as a onslaught of worldly thinking
and philosophy that Christians face today.
If enough of this worldly thinking infiltrates Christians circles
as was the attempt in Ezra’s day, then the enemy has won the battle.
The battle is a battle of the mind as well as a battle of the
heart. How we think affects
how we live. The enemies of
the Jews were constantly suggesting another way to live to these Jews.
They were counseling them with their own pagan ways in the hopes
of getting the Jews to forsake their commitment to both their God and
the purpose at hand, which
was the rebuilding of the temple.
So far any attempt by the
Now after Xerxes was
gone, his son Artaxerxes took over.
He reigned over Persia
from 456 BC to 424 BC. It
appears that the enemies of the Jews had little success with Xerxes so
they tried again with his son. This
time they wrote an official letter to have it delivered to the king as
seen in verse 7.
Verse 8 actually gives
the names of the men who wrote this letter.
They are, Rehum, the commanding official, and his secretary named
Shimshai. Verses 9 and 10 simply state who this letter represented.
It was written on behalf of many people in the area of
The letter that was sent
to the king begins in verse 12. The
letter reminds the king how the Jews were allowed to return to Jerusalem. When Cyrus let the Jews
free and allowed them to rebuild the city and the temple, he viewed this
as from God, and that these people were returning to their land.
The letter does not present the exact same picture here.
The letter states that Jerusalem
is “that wicked and rebellious city”, not the city of
Throughout the history of
man, as long as there has been a
Verse 13 suggests that if
the Jews are allowed to rebuild the city, they will not pay taxes to the
king and thus much needed revenue would be lost.
The implication is that the Jews would revolt and break away from
the kingdom. So the appeal to the king at this point is over money.
That’s not new, and in this 21st century the same
appeal will be leveled against the church.
The question is now being asked why churches do not pay property
Verse 14 is a bit ironic
to me. Those writing the
letter sound like they’re very loyal citizens of the empire, but these
same people were once battled against and lost.
They are subjects of the kingdom by force.
I doubt if these men really believe what they are saying, but it
needs to be said to impress the king.
It’s pure flattery. They
are appealing to the king’s ego.
In verse 16 the writers
of the letter suggest to the king that look back into the archived
records to see the history of Jerusalem
and how rebellious it has been, and that it’s existence is full of
trouble for the past kings. In
one since of the word these men are right.
Verse 16 is a warning to
the king. The letter writers
say that if the king allows
Verse 16 gives reference
to the “Trans-Euphrates”. The
In verses 17 to 22 we see
the king’s reply. In verse
19 the king notes that he and his people have done their research.
The research proved the enemies of Israel’s point.
had been a city of revolt and constant conflict over the centuries.
So the enemies won on this point.
This is one way in which
satan works against the people of God, whether in Old Testament times or
in New Testament times. When
God’s people stand strong, they are in direct opposition and conflict
with the world and governments and societies see this as opposition
against them and thus the conflict occurs.
Verse 20 gets to the
money issue. The research
proves that Jerusalem
has had powerful kings at times and taxes and other money have been paid
to them. This could not
happen again in the eyes of the king.
Once again, the enemies of
Verse 21 tells us that
the king had made his decision. He told those who wrote the letter to
stop the Jews from their building project.
In verse 22 the king
encourages the letter writers not to let this matter go.
They needed to intervene. They
had to stop the Jews from rebuilding their temple and their city.
This was all in the name of the “king’s interests”.
Thus the conflict goes on. The
battle between good and evil, between God and the devil.
The conflict that is
presently being escalated in the world today between Christians and the
society in which they live is based on the same premise as we see here.
Christian culture must be put down in the name of the state.
The Jews ended their
building project for a matter of 18 years at this point. At this point
great discouragement came into the hearts of the Jews.
They came back to the land of their forefathers understanding it
was the will of God to rebuild the temple and the city, and now that
ended. Many of them wanted to give up.
This says something about God’s calling on people.
Even though God may call you to something, it does not mean
things will turn out great. You can look at Paul’s life and see how
real this is. You can look
at many Christians over the centuries to know that success in God’s
Kingdom may not look like success in the world.
What we should understand here is that there is a battle going
on. When God calls us to do
anything, we enter a battle.