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Ezra 4

Talks for Growing Christians

The Jews Face Opposition From the Surrounding Foreigners

Ezra 4

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Lesson Number 4

Background Notes

Doctrinal Point(s)

  1. The work of the Lord is hindered by compromise. Ezra 4:2-3
  2. The work of the Lord is hindered by opposition. Ezra 4:4-24

Practical Application

  1. Don’t fear the opposition.

Questions

  1. Most of the Jews who returned from the exile in Babylon were from the tribes of ______ and ______.
  2. Who were the adversaries of Judah? Give a brief history of these enemies of Judah.
  3. Why were these adversaries unwelcome into the community of the Jews?
  4. How long did the “unwelcome” policy continue?
  5. Refer to John 4:9. How does this relate to the “unwelcome” policy?
  6. What tactics were employed by the enemies of Judah to sidetrack their temple project?

Answers

  1. Judah and Benjamin
  2. They were primarily Samaritans. When the Assyrians conquered the northern ten tribes of Israel in the 8th Century B.C., the Assyrian kings repopulated the land with foreign peoples. These foreign people began to intermarry with the people of northern Israel who had been left in the land. This was the beginning of the Samaritan people.
  3. The Samaritans were a mixed race.
  4. Right on down until the time of the Lord Jesus.
  5. When the Lord Jesus asked a woman of Samaria for a drink, the woman said to Him, “How is it that You, being a Jew, ask a drink from me, a Samaritan woman?’ For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.”
  6. At first they tried the tactic of compromise, and when that didn’t work, they went to open opposition.

Discuss/Consider

  1. “Let us build with you, for we seek your God as you do…” (Ezra 4:2). The Samaritans did not want the Jews to prosper in the building of the temple, so they tried to infiltrate their ranks by compromise. The Samaritans said that they both sought the same God, but in effect the Samaritans practiced a syncretic form of religion, where parts of the Jewish law were mixed in with the their pagan religions. Satan practices the same tactic today when he tries to get Christians to compromise the truth. For example, some say that there are many roads to heaven, but Jesus is the only way of salvation. There is no one-world religion, as some would argue. But the truth cannot be compromised. Zerubbable stood firm (see Ezra 4:3), and so must we as believers stand firm. “I exhort you to contend earnestly for the faith.” (Jude 3).
  2. There was a long history of opposition to the building of the Lord’s temple and the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem. In Ezra 4:24, we read that the work ceased, and the temple project was put on hold for fifteen years because of the opposition. The work of the Lord was hindered by opposition then, and it is hindered by opposition today. The opposition uses many of Satan’s tactics: threats, slander, intimidation, force. Try getting biblical values back into your local schools, for example, and watch the opposition come forward. Think of other biblical values that are hindered by opposition when Christians take a stand for the Lord.

Challenge

  1. Do you fear the opposition? Look to the Lord for strength and courage to face the opposition. Christians who stand firm in the faith know the joy of walking with the Lord. Does your joy shine forth when you are persecuted and hindered in the name of Jesus?

Key Verses

  • “When the adversaries heard… that the Jews were building the temple of the Lord, they said, ‘Let us build with you…for we seek your God as you do…” Ezra 4:1-2
  • “But Zerubbabel…said, ‘You may do nothing with us to build a house for our God; but we alone will build to the Lord God of Israel.” Ezra 4:3
  • “The people of the land tried to discourage the people of Judah. They troubled them in building.” Ezra 4:4

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