Some time ago, the Lord took me to one of my favorite passages in Ezra, and gave me a word to share with the people of God. I shared it on Facebook and forgot about it. Recently, I attended a service and the preached word came from that same passage, so I thought I’d share it here.

Ezra 4:1-5
Now when the adversaries of Judah and Benjamin heard that the children of the captivity builded the temple unto the LORD God of Israel;
 
Then they came to Zerubbabel, and to the chief of the fathers, and said unto them, Let us build with you: for we seek your God, as ye do; and we do sacrifice unto him since the days of Esarhaddon king of Assur, which brought us up hither.
 
But Zerubbabel, and Jeshua, and the rest of the chief of the fathers of Israel, said unto them, Ye have nothing to do with us to build an house unto our God; but we ourselves together will build unto the LORD God of Israel, as king Cyrus the king of Persia hath commanded us.
 
Then the people of the land weakened the hands of the people of Judah, and troubled them in building,
 
And hired counsellors against them, to frustrate their purpose, all the days of Cyrus king of Persia, even until the reign of Darius king of Persia.”

So the story here is pretty clear and easy to understand. The children of Israel were on assignment to rebuild the Temple after decades in Babylonian captivity. They developed their plan, organized laborers, laid the foundation, and were working cheerfully when the enemies of Judah (praise) and Benjamin (son of the right hand, which symbolizes authority) showed up. If it wasn’t 10:30 at night, I would dig a little bit into how there are people who hate your praise, and surely people who hate your authority. But, you get the picture so let’s keep it moving. The enemies of praise and authority tried to fit in. They could’ve just come in trying to tear things up all out in the open and blatantly, but instead, they tried to sneak in cunningly. They devised a plan. They went to the newly freed Israelites and said, “hey, we’re on the same team as you. We want to build with you. We share the same vision. Let us help you build…” Now, if this was a scene from 2011, it probably would’ve sounded a little deeper, maybe something like: “Man of God, I feel led of the Lord to help you advance the kingdom of God here in Anytown. The Lord has placed a burden in my spirit to hold up your arms as you do the labor of the Lord throughout the nations, and through you, we will go to new realms and new seasons and breakthroughs and dimensions and all the other buzz words .
 
Yeah. You get the picture. They pretended to serve the same God. Probably had the look. Walked the walk, talked the talk, knew all the lingo, gestures, timing, etc. But thank God for a discerning leader. Zerubbabel knew they were up to no good, and told them they weren’t qualified to build God’s house. Some things never change. Back then, somewhere around 537, 536 BC, the enemies couldn’t just walk away and go find another chur– temple to harass. They decided to engage in an all-out attack on these folks who just barely got free from bondage… can’t even enjoy their victory good before the enemy shows up. Yeah, so anyway, in verse 4, we see that they began to do everything they could to “weaken the hands” (discourage, demoralize, burn out, frustrate, to cause to be idle or useless) of the builders. Now, the enemies wasn’t just bothering random Israelites, they were bothering those who were building the Temple (if I were Eddie Long, this would be a good place to say “watch this, watch this.”) The Bible says that they troubled them in building! (Watch this!) Troubled: From the Hebrew “bahal“… means to disturb, to alarm, to terrify, to rush or hasten, to cause anxiety, fear, nervousness, dismay, terror… Whew. If you haven’t met the “adversaries of Judah and Benjamin” yet, you don’t even know what enemies are! Imagine just trying to do ministry. That’s all you’re trying to do is what God assigned you to do… and here comes “folks” to try to rush the timeline God gave you, trying to make you anxious, doubtful, fearful, nervous, scared… just trying to disturb you however you can to keep you from fulfilling your assignment.
 
In verse 5, the Bible says that they hired counselors (co-conspirators) to frustrate (to BREAK) the Israelites’ purpose. Yes, your enemy will go so far as to find a cohort (or what did TD Jakes call them? Comrades) to fight against you. They will build a team of comrades.  They don’t even have to be friends or like each other. They just have to be willing to work together long enough to frustrate your purpose. Whew. Y’all don’t even have to read this, it is blessing ME! Some of us complain over having to deal with it for a whole year… the Bible says these enemies worked against them for 15 years! And… (watch this…lol) they kept. on. building. Selah (pause for reflection).
 
Yes, they kept on building. Speak to me, Jesus.
 
The enemies went over their heads and wrote a letter to the king. It was a conspiracy. They went to the king and said, “King, if you let them build this temple, they’re not going to pay taxes and you’re going to lose money. They are rebellious. Look at where they come from! Check their references, King, I’m telling you. You gotta stop them! What you need to do is… I’m not trying to tell you how to be King, but… If it were ME, I would… I’m just saying, King… it’s for the sake of the people!!! The people want you to intervene. I’m just trying to help you, King. You’re going to lose the Kingdom, everything is going to fall apart if you don’t stop them… not that I’m trying to tell you how to run your kingdom… I’m just… sayin…

The moral of the story is that everyone who looks like you, sounds like you, dresses like you, and plays in your sandbox is not necessarily on your team. These enemies didn’t come with a red cape and red horns and an evil grin. They came pretending to be worshippers.  Their Plan A was to “work” right alongside the Israelites tearing down everything they tried to build without them even noticing it.  They planned to unglue what the Israelites glued, unstitch what they stitched, remove nuts and bolts, hide bricks, whisper murmurings and complaints… But when that didn’t work, they enacted Plan B and just went public with their assault. 
 
Be prayerful. Be watchful. Sober. Vigilant. Be discerning. And no matter what, keep on building. ‘Cause going back is not an option. 🙂

Note: Sound familiar? I originally published this on my Facebook page on August 31, 2010. I’m sharing it here with minor edits.

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