SPIRITUAL NOURISHMENT FOR TODAY
DON’T LET THEM IN (Parts 1&2)
Resistance to Rebuilding the Temple
“4 Now when the adversaries of Judah and Benjamin heard that the descendants of the captivity were building the temple of the Lord God of Israel, 2 they came to Zerubbabel and the heads of the fathers’houses, and said to them, “Let us build with you, for we seek your God as you do; and we have sacrificed to Him since the days of Esarhaddon king of Assyria, who brought us here.” 3 But Zerubbabel and Jeshua and the rest of the heads of the fathers’ houses of Israel said to them, “You may do nothing with us to build a house for our God; but we alone will build to the Lord God of Israel, as King Cyrus the king of Persia has commanded us.” 4 Then the people of the land tried to discourage the people of Judah. They troubled them in building, 5 and hired counselors against them to frustrate their purpose all the days of Cyrus king of Persia, even until the reign of Darius king of Persia” Ezra 4:1-5.
“DO NOT BE YOKED TOGETHER WITH UNBELIEVERS. FOR WHAT DO RIGHTEOUSNESS AND WICKEDNESS HAVE IN COMMON? OR WHAT FELLOWSHIP CAN LIGHT HAVE WITH DARKNESS?” (2 Corinthians 6:14 NIV)
In the last few editions of Spiritual Nourishment for Today, we have been looking at the power of unity among Christians and the need to unite in pursuant of the Great Commission. We have so far made the point that believers have to unite spiritually and physically where possible and combine our individual gifts, skills and talents to help build the body of Christ.
This is very important because in unity lies strength as we have seen in the life of the Jews who returned from exile to rebuild the Temple. In this edition we want to look at what transpired when the peoples surrounding the Jews attempted to join them in the rebuilding of the Temple. But even before we go into that let me make the point that not all alliances are healthy. Some alliances could be very harmful to the body of Christ. Such unholy alliances must be avoided.
When the Jews were building the Temple of God, the people who had been brought to Israel by the Assyrians came to Zerubbabel and offered to help them build the Temple of God. They told Zerubbabel about their religious orientation which showed clearly that they were worshippers of God.
“LET US HELP YOU BUILD BECAUSE, LIKE YOU, WE SEEK YOUR GOD AND HAVE BEEN SACRIFICING TO HIM SINCE THE TIME OF ESARHADDON KING OF ASSYRIA WHO BROUGHT US HERE” Ezra 4:2.
This should have convinced Zerubbabel and the entire Jewish community to enter into an alliance with them in the rebuilding of the Temple. But Zerubbabel and the others refused to align with them because they discerned their wicked intentions and also followed the word of the LORD which came to them through King Cyrus. They replied:
“YOU HAVE NO PART WITH US IN BUILDING A TEMPLE TO OUR GOD” (v. 3).
This was a very important response to the people who wanted to join the Jews. The Jews did not want to make any mistake of allowing people who pretended to love God to join them in the building of the Temple. The Jews wanted to avoid any unholy alliance with them. They knew the implications of entering into unholy alliances or partnerships. This is something we all need to be careful about. Sometimes the people we enter into partnership with may pretend to be children of light but in reality are not. If we do not allow the Holy Spirit to help us discern well, we shall end up allowing people who are evil-minded to come into an alliance with us which may eventually lead to our destruction.
I strongly believe that the Jews were not merely refusing to allow anybody to have any share in the building of the Temple as someone may find it. I believe they rejected their offer because the LORD opened their eyes to see who they truly were. They did not love the LORD as they claimed. They hated the Jews and their God. They only wanted a way to be part of them so they could wreck the Temple building project. God revealed this to the Jews because they were in close contact with Him. If we allow the LORD to be our guide and follow His directives for our lives, he shall surely reveal to us the kind of people around us and those we decide to enter into any kind of partnership with.
It is sad that many Christians have entered into alliances they now wish they had never done. Some Christians have entered into business partnerships with the wrong people who ended up cheating on them or even made them lose their investments. Some Christians have married people who hid their real identities and have now regretted. Some Christians have also entered into ministerial partnerships with people they now wish they had never done so. It is all because we sometimes fail to allow the LORD to direct our hearts and thoughts.
I WANT TO REMIND ALL BELIEVERS THAT MANY PEOPLE WOULD LIKE TO ENTER INTO BUSINESS, MINISTERIAL, OR OTHER PARTNERSHIPS SUCH AS MARRIAGE WITH US WITH THE INTENTION OF CAUSING OUR DOWNFALL. WE SHOULD NOT LET SUCH PEOPLE ENTER INTO OUR LIVES. WE SHOULD ALLOW THE HOLY SPIRIT TO HELP US DISCERN WHO OR WHO NOT TO UNITE WITH IN UNDERTAKING ANY PHYSICAL OR SPIRIT PROJECT. IF WE ALLOW THE WRONG PEOPLE INTO OUR LIVES, WE SHALL REGRET IN THE FUTURE. As we go through the year 2014, it is my prayer that the LORD will push out every wrong person or group of persons out of lives. May the Lord be our guide!
THE WORD OF THE LORD!
In the previous Part, we looked at how the Jews rejected the offer from the people surrounding them to support them in rebuilding the Temple of God. The point was made that even though unity is very important for the building up of the body of Christ, unity with unbelievers or groups of people who pretend to be part of the family of God can ruin everything we set our hearts to do. What it means is that certain alliances are unholy and therefore dangerous for believers to be part of. In this edition, we want to continue looking at what transpired after the Jews had rejected the offer from the people surrounding them.
It was seen in the previous edition that the people surrounding the Jews claimed to be worshipers of God and that they had been sacrificing to God in the same way the Jews had been doing. This was to convince the Jews to enter into some kind of alliance with them. Yet the Jews rejected that offer even though they needed more people to help in the building of the Temple. The LORD probably showed his people the nature of those who wanted to support them and they were bold in saying ‘NO’ to them. This is something many Christians fall short of. Sometimes we are unable to say ‘NO’ to certain people or avoid certain circumstances because we are unable to say NO to them. We mostly do that for the sake of convenience. Sometimes some Christians may marry people they know have no good character simply because they could not resist their beauty, wealth or other characteristics they may admire. This is wrong. I cannot imagine a Christian marrying a non-Christian because of money, beauty or other opportunities they expect to obtain after the marriage. This brings us back to the question asked by Apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 6:15:
“WHAT DOES A BELIEVER HAVE IN COMMON WITH AN UNBELIEVER?”
It is important to remind ourselves that any unholy unions in either marriage or business or even in ordinary friendships can ruin our lives. If we unite with unbelievers, we are more likely to become like them. Apostle Paul said again in 1 Corinthians 15:33:
“DO NOT BE MISLED; BAD COMPANY CORRUPTS GOOD CHARACTER.”
The person you unite yourself with can depict the sort of person you are, or the sort of person you will become. This is why the Jews were bold to resist an alliance with such people who pretended to be lovers of God and his people. They were also frank with them when they told them:
“WE ALONE WILL BUILD FOR THE LORD, THE GOD OF ISRAEL …”
We should not allow the present circumstances we find ourselves in to lead us into any unholy alliances because if we mistakenly do that, we shall surely regret some day. We should be aware of people who may want to take advantage of our situation and enter into our lives with evil motives. We should resist such people. We should not let them into our lives! Rather, we should put all our trust in God and believe He will take us through whatever circumstances we find ourselves in presently.
Those who might have criticized the Jews for disallowing the people surrounding them joined them in the rebuilding of the Temple will know from the subsequent verses that the Jews were very right in their unanimous decision. This is because after the Jews had rejected their offer, they turned against them. According to the Scripture, THE PEOPLE SURROUNDING THEM SET OUT TO DISCOURAGE THE PEOPLE OF JUDAH AND MAKE THEM AFRAID TO GO ON BUILDING (v. 4).
One begins to wonder whether they truly wanted to help in building a Temple for God or they wanted to join because of their selfish interests. This was their true character – to discourage and cause them to become afraid in building the Temple. They were not opposed to the Jews alone but their God whose Temple they were building. It did not even end there; they later hired people to work against the Jews and frustrated the building of the Temple. These were the same people who wanted to have a share in the building of God’s Temple. Praise be to God for opening the eyes and ears of his children to know and prevent them from joining hands with them!
As you set yourself out to live a life that brings glory to God, you may have many people trying to be part of your life. Some may come like angels of light but indeed are not. We should allow the Holy Spirit to guide our hearts and minds to be able to know and prevent anybody who will not make any positive impact on our lives.
We should associate ourselves with only Christ-minded people and not evil-minded people. Don’t let them into your life!
THE WORD OF THE LORD!
Pastor Nana Kobina Baisie
Teacher/Pastor at Nadrim Mission International School, Busan, Korea.