Resistance and opposition are a part of any movement. From the smallest of actions taken to life changing goals expect push back. Not all opposition is a bad thing. We learn and grow from those who think differently from us. We improve our programs and enhance our goals by listening to those who see things differently. How do we determine the good opposition from opposition that is rooted in self-serving adversity?
Ezra chapters 4, 5, and 6 are grounded in big dreams, push backs, and overcoming obstacles.
God made it clear in chapter 4 that Israel had enemies, and the enemies did not want the Temple rebuilt. Their first attempt was through a request to work with them, but the people were wise and saw through the insincerity. So the gossip and lies began. Letters were written to the King that were based on anger and fear. The King at that time, in haste, forced the Jews to stop building. The lies were centered on the history of the Jewish people’s “mistakes”, and not the decree from King Cyrus giving them permission and provisions to rebuild the Temple. Approximately 16 years passed before they picked up a tool or used their hands to re-build. Lies hurt and destroy dreams.
But there were prophets….
Chapter 5 highlights Godly people who, despite the lies and discouragement, they encouraged the people.
…encouraging them to begin building again! So they did and the prophets helped them
It did not take long for the enemies to show up and discourage. They asked for a list of names of all the men who were working on the Temple.
But because the Lord was overseeing the entire situation, our enemies did not force us to stop building.
What was different this time? Same lies and push back, but the people were different. So different that the enemies recognized that the Lord was overseeing the entire situation. The King during this time period was King Darius. He went to the royal library, and, instead of trying to research their mistakes, he looked for the promises. Eventually the record was found in the palace, and King Darius reported what it said:
3 In the first year of King Cyrus, the king issued a decree concerning the temple of God in Jerusalem:
Let the temple be rebuilt as a place to present sacrifices, and let its foundations be laid. It is to be sixty cubits[a] high and sixty cubits wide, 4 with three courses of large stones and one of timbers. The costs are to be paid by the royal treasury. 5 Also, the gold and silver articles of the house of God, which Nebuchadnezzar took from the temple in Jerusalem and brought to Babylon, are to be returned to their places in the temple in Jerusalem; they are to be deposited in the house of God.
King Darius ordered that no one was to interfere with the work of the Temple of God without grave consequences.
The Temple was finally finished as had been commanded by God and decreed by Kings. The Temple was dedicated with great joy, and the influence of the rebuilding and worship brought others to salvation and worship of the Lord God.
There was great joy throughout the land because the Lord had caused the King of Assayria to be generous to Israel and to assist in the construction of the Temple.
So, how do we know and move forward in God’s plan for us when there are seemingly too great of odds against us and His plan?
Be ready! Expect opposition and allow time and prayer to help you understand the motives, position, and truth.
Listen! Allow God to use Godly people in your life to encourage your work, and surround yourself with people who, not only speak truth into your life, but also want to see your God dreams take wing!
Pause. 16 years is a long time to pause, but there are times that God will cause you to pause and prepare. Jesus paused and prepared in the wilderness, as did many of the great prophets, Kings, and people of God’s Word. Silence may seem like stagnation, but much work on our soul and minds can be had during a time of silence and seemingly “no work”. Perhaps God wants you to pull your eyes away from the journey and see what is standing before you– a marriage, a child, a situation, a circumstance that needs attention, which, in the end, will prepare you for the work.
Seek God FIRST. It’s not clear what truly made the difference in those 16 years and through the encouragement of the prophets, but in that time of pause the enemies saw a new confidence in the people when they started building again. They claimed the presence of God and His authority. We, too, get a little fuzzy minded in our pursuits. Can we with great confidence claim that God has ordained and that God has caused?
Influence. Our actions will influence others. Remember to include and pray for those who work alongside you. The phone call you make, the people you encounter, and your attitude during the hard times and joyful times are all opportunities to show the love of Christ and influence others.
Check your motives. If you are in opposition with a project or a person, check your motives and mouth. If God is calling you to speak truth in a situation, then choose to do so in gentleness, love, and honesty, not gossip, slander, and fearful attacks. There is a time to be silent and a time to speak out. Ask God to give you wisdom and the words along with the timing.