Scripture Reading — Ezra 4:1-5, 24
The peoples around them set out to discourage the people of Judah and make them afraid to go on building.
—Ezra 4:4 —
In his book Answering God, Eugene Peterson remarks, “Enemies, especially for those who live by faith, are a fact of life. If we don’t know we have them or who they are, we live in a dangerous naivete.”
God’s people had enemies who opposed their becoming a holy people. They were rebuilding the temple when what seemed like a friendly offer to help turned out to be a subversive at-tempt to stop God’s work. The motives of this offer were quickly discerned. So the enemies tried a different tactic. “The peoples around them set out to discourage the people … and make them afraid to go on building. They bribed officials to work against them and frustrate their plans.”
This pressure discouraged the people for a while, and the re-building of the temple came to a standstill. But did God stop working? No. Our enemies may try to delay God’s work, but they can’t stop it.
God eventually sent prophets to inspire and motivate the people to begin rebuilding his temple again (see Haggai 1; Zechariah 1; Ezra 5:1-2).
Philippians 1:6 states, “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” There will always be enemies who try to thwart God’s work, but God is in control. He will complete his good work in all of us.
Dear Lord, I want to think I do not have enemies in my life. But help me discern a realistic picture of the world. Keep me on my knees as I pray for your kingdom to come. Amen.