Read Ezra 4:1-24
Our news headlines today regularly cover some kind of opposition being expressed towards Israel. That is certainly nothing new. There was evidence of it even before their enslavement in Egypt leading up to the exodus under the leadership of Moses. We have recently spoken of it during the time of the Babylonian exile in the sixth century b.c. During that time, tens of thousands of Jews were carted off to Babylon while their holy city, Jerusalem, was destroyed. And in today’s reading, even though Cyrus had granted permission for their return and for the rebuilding of the temple, opposition was still prevalent.
At first, the opposition was less obvious. Enemy people claiming the same allegiance to God offered their assistance. While it may have been true that these people sought and sacrificed to Jehovah, theirs was a syncretistic faith where the one true God was but one of many they worshiped. Still today, we must be careful. Not all who claim a common faith with us worship only the God of heaven through Jesus Christ His son. The leaders of Judah did well to not permit them to join the project.
Next, enemies found ways of slowing and stopping the construction project by discouraging the workers, making them afraid to build. For years, they even bribed local officials to frustrate the work. In this case, the opposition was more obvious. As I look back over the now more than five decades of my life, I am amazed to see how opposition to Christianity has become much more blatant. There was a time when Christian influence and convictions were appreciated . . . and even reflected in the society as a whole (even among unbelievers). Today? Not so much.
Finally, the opposition was taken to the national level. Local opposition invited national leaders to take a closer look at the history of this “subversive group.” As a result, the construction project was shut down. Indeed, today we live at a time where it is becoming increasingly difficult to be a fervent follower of Christ. Laws urge toward political correctness, and people tell us to curb our speech and douse our zeal.
Still, don’t let the opposition prevent you from being someone who loves God with all of your heart, mind, soul, and strength. Don’t shrink back from boldly identifying with the Savior.