Something To Think About Have you ever felt like the whole world was against you? If so, you will identify with the Jews in this week’s lesson. No sooner had the work on the temple gotten under way than opposition arose. At first thought, it would seem strange for God to allow the enemies of His people to hinder and even stop the work for which they had returned. However, in the opposition, as well as in the people’s response to it, we can see God’s hand at work. God permitted His people to be tested, but He did not allow the enemies to triumph. Even kings and empires are unable to overthrow the work of God.
KEY VERSE Ezra 4:24 “Then ceased the work of the house of God which is at Jerusalem. So it ceased unto the second year of the reign of Darius king of Persia”.
Lesson Objectives To realize that Satan and his crowd are relentless in their battle for evil To recognize that God is with His people regardless of circumstances To rely upon God for victory in spite of Satan’s power
THE ADVERSARIES OF THE JEWS Ezra 4:1-6 Ezra 3:3 An Offer Refused (1-3) 2 Kings 17:24-33 The Opposition That Resulted (4-6)
It is true that regardless of the type of work you attempt for God, you will face opposition. As it was in Ezra’s day, the devil never lets the people of God continue their labors unopposed. Every local church and, sooner or later, every individual believer will experience opposition to their spiritual endeavors from others. We all need to be reminded of Jesus’ words, “In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33b).
A LETTER TO THE PERSIAN KING Ezra 4:7-16 The Ones Who Wrote (7-10) The Letter’s Warning (11-13) The Letter’s Request (14-16)
This letter to the Persian king from the enemies of the Jews is a prime example of deceptively slanting the “truth.” Filled with untruths, partial truths, and distorted truths, it was, sadly, an effective weapon against the people of God. It is interesting that the letter was written by those who at first sought to join the Jews in rebuilding the wall but were rejected by Zerubbabel and Joshua because of their corrupted faith and impure motives.
THE RESPONSE OF ARTAXERXES Ezra 4:17-24 A Search Made (17-20) A Command (21-22) The Work Stopped (23-24)
The opposition faced by those rebuilding Jerusalem became a means of blessing by God. Even though the work was hindered and the efforts of the Jews were frustrated, the end result of Tatnai’s letter (Ezra 5:6-17) was a more thorough search by Darius that concluded with his decree to support the work and fund it from the royal coffers (6:1- 12). Of course, at this point in the study, the Jews were not aware of the story’s ending. Remember, we can trust God to author the rest of our “story” for His glory and our good.
QUESTIONS FOR STUDY AND DISCUSSION 1. What do you think was in the old men’s minds as they wept while watching the foundation of the new temple being laid in Ezra 3? 2. The Jews faced severe opposition as they rebuilt the temple. Give other biblical examples of opposition to the Lord’s work. 3. How did Jeshua and Zerubbabel respond to the Samaritans’ request to help rebuild the temple? 4. How have you been impacted by religious persecution? How do God’s faithfulness, truth, and promises encourage you in this situation?
May God Bless You For Coming To Sunday School This Morning! Bring Someone With You To Bible Study On Wednesday Night!
Acknowledgements Applications taken from Bible Teacher Bible Studies for Adults—Summer Edition (2011) This power point slide presentation may be altered by additions or deletions to fit your own teaching style. There is more information in viewing Note Pages Click on View then Note Pages Presentation Compiled For Randall House By Earl Scroggins