Welcome back, fellow exile!
In chapter 4, Ezra steps back and allows a more encompassing view of the future, foreshadowing a death to the vision of rebuilding the temple.
Whenever we set our minds to doing G-d’s will and proclaim His light, it draws bugs. Satan is the biggest bug of all. In Ezra 4, the bugs came and, even while claiming to be friends offering help, they discouraged, frightened, frustrated, accused, even spent money to thwart rebuilding G-d’s temple. They even petitioned Artaxerxes, the son of the king involved in the story of Esther, who had some early tolerance for the work of rebuilding likely due to respect for Esther. But they threatened the king’s tax base and very kingdom security. The enemy is not subtle in attacking this kind of dedication to G-d’s work.
We began our work just 3 days ago… have you experienced any of these types of attacks? I know I have—sincerely, and from directions I didn’t expect.
When Artaxerxes replied, he ordered the cessation of the building effort by force. They were banned from continuing in the work G-d had given them. This brought a death to the vision. The concept of “death to a vision” is a common thread throughout the scriptures. Abraham and Sarah were promised a child when barren. Abraham was called to sacrifice Isaac. Pharaoh denied Moses. Even Yeshua on the cross! G-d often makes promises and then permits circumstances that seem to end the promise’s realization. Why? One reason is to allow room for faith. In some Biblical cases, people remained faithful. In others, they took matters into their own hands to bring about the promise, usually with less-than-ideal results.
But G-d is always faithful. How do we keep our faith when there’s a death to a vision? David gave us all the example we need when about to face Goliath, “The G-d who saved me from the paw of the bear and the paw of the lion will surely save me from this Philistine!” Faith is a muscle. We exercise it as we face trials. Each of us is given a measure of faith (Rom 12:3), and G-d has provided us with a proportion of grace (Eph 4:7). Between the two, our glass is full to the top! no matter where we are in our individual spiritual growth.
Big Take-Aways from Ezra 4
13) The enemy will surely come against us. If he doesn’t then we aren’t doing our job right. Pray that G-d rebuke’s the devourer, and that our fruit will not wither on the vine (Mal 3:10-12).
14) Pray for wisdom, and for those of us with the spiritual gift of discernment to discern our friends from our enemies. Just because someone is offering to help you doesn’t make them your friend. We need wisdom and discernment now more than ever.
15) When circumstances bring about a “death to the vision,” rely on your past experiences where the Lord was faithful. Set your mind to growing your faith.