SPIRITUAL NOURISHMENT FOR TODAY
“17 The king sent an answer:
To Rehum the commander, to Shimshai the scribe, to the rest of their companions who dwell in Samaria, and to the remainder beyond the River:
Peace, and so forth.
18 The letter which you sent to us has been clearly read before me. 19 And I gave the command, and a search has been made, and it was found that this city in former times has revolted against kings, and rebellion and sedition have been fostered in it. 20 There have also been mighty kings over Jerusalem, who have ruled over all the region beyond the River; and tax, tribute, and custom were paid to them. 21 Now give the command to make these men cease, that this city may not be built until the command is given by me.
22 Take heed now that you do not fail to do this. Why should damage increase to the hurt of the kings?
23 Now when the copy of King Artaxerxes’ letter was read before Rehum, Shimshai the scribe, and their companions, they went up in haste to Jerusalem against the Jews, and by force of arms made them cease” Ezra 4:17-23.
“BE STILL BEFORE THE LORD AND WAIT PATIENTLY FOR HIM. DO NOT FRET WHEN MEN SUCCEED IN THEIR WAYS, WHEN THEY CARRY OUT THEIR WICKED WAYS” Psalm 37:7.
Christians are always engaged a spiritual warfare. This is between the people of God and Satan and his associates. This battle begins the moment one declares his or his intention to follow Jesus Christ. The battle is so fierce that sometimes Satan and his people are able to ‘succeed’ against the people of God despite all the assurances God has given us.
This is because the Sovereign God whom we serve may sometimes ‘allow’ his people to go through such hard times in order to demonstrate his great power to both Satan and God’s people. Unfortunately, some Christians do not understand that the victory we have been promised will not always come smoothly. Sometimes we have to undergo some ‘ups’ and ‘downs’ before we can enjoy our victory. What matters most is that at the end of the day, the victory promised us will surely come. Today we want to look at how the enemy succeeded in bringing an end to the rebuilding of the Temple of Jerusalem.
After the enemies of the Jews had written a letter to king Artaxerxes accusing the Jews of several issues, their accusations were upheld by the king. According to the king, the Jews had been rebellious with a history of sedition. According to the king, the Jews had also had powerful kings ruling over them. Even though no names were mentioned, it is obvious Artaxerxes was talking about David, Solomon and the other powerful kings who ruled over them. He also acknowledged the past wealth of the Jewish kings which resulted from the taxes, tributes and duties paid to them by the nations which were under them.
It could be seen from the charges preferred against the Jews that the new king felt insecure at the rise of Jerusalem because of their past greatness. He realized that once Jerusalem is rebuilt, it would regain its past glory and make it more difficult for him to rule over them. Once again, we see the king being jealous of what the Lord could do in the lives of the Jews and became scared of their future greatness.
Many people who hate us do so because they know what the LORD has done in our lives before and are therefore jealous and scared of what the LORD could do in our lives in the future should they allow us to continue at the pace at which the LORD is moving us. Knowing how great our future is, they will try to do everything possible to prevent us from succeeding in anything we do. They know very well that we are going to succeed because God is on our side. The other people who accused the Jews as well as the king and his people were jealous and scared of the Jews because of YHWH’s presence among them.
This is the very reason why we are hated-we are on God’s side and God is on our side. The question I would like to ask those who are jealous of us and gossip about us is why they do not want to join us in worshiping the LORD God Almighty? If you are jealous of our success because of the God we have, kindly join us in worshiping Him because He is willing to receive and bless all those who draw near to him. Do not be jealous because of God’s blessings upon others!
As a result of the accusations, the king gave an order to put an end to the rebuilding project. This meant in a way that the enemies succeeded in their plans against God’s people and against God Himself whose Temple the Jews were rebuilding. One may begin to wonder why King Artaxerxes was able to stop God’s people from doing God’s work.
One fact that we all have to understand is that sometimes our enemies may ‘succeed’ in their plans against us not because God cannot bring us victory; it is because God ‘may allow’ the enemy some room to operate temporarily. It is all to show that He is in control of our lives no matter what we come across. If we all understand that sometimes we may look like ‘losers’ in the presence of our enemies, it will strengthen us in our walk with the LORD.
However, when things happen like that and we are unable to continue with what we set our hearts to do, we should not fret. We should remain hopeful in the Lord and understand that the success of the enemy is only a temporary one. We should believe that the enemy cannot stop anything God is doing in our lives unless God ‘allows’ him to do so temporarily. That short time is to re-equip us and re-position us for the task ahead.
It does not mean God has finished with us or is unable to fulfill his promises to us. Even when it seems He has finished with us, we should remember that He never forsakes His people. He will surely do whatever He has promised to do in our lives no matter the delays or whatever the enemy may seem to have accomplished in our lives temporarily. The enemy may be able to ‘stop’ us but that can never prevent us from getting to the point God has planned to take us.
When it seems we cannot move on, we should spend much more time waiting upon the LORD in prayer so that He will prepare us for the next stage of the journey. They may succeed against us temporarily but God will grant us the victory in the end. May the LORD grant us the grace not to give up when things become hard for us!
THE WORD OF THE LORD!
Pastor Nana Kobina Baisie
Teacher/Pastor at Nadrim Mission International School, Busan, Korea.