LAST CHAPTER WE FIRST HEARD OF NEARBY POLITICAL FACTIONS WHO THREATENED THE RETURNING JEWS IN ORDER TO HINDER THE TEMPLE CONSTRUCTION - SO MUCH THAT IT DELAYED ITS START. TODAY IN CHAPTER 4 WE GET MORE SPECIFICS AND EVEN LEARN OF OPPOSITION GROUPS REPORTING THESE JEWS TO THE PERSIAN AUTHORITIES AS POTENTIAL REBELS AND TAX DODGERS, WITH THE HOPE OF THWARTING BOTH THE CONSTRUCTION OF THE TEMPLE AND THE RESTORATION OF THE ALL-IMPORTANT DEFENSIVE WALLS OF JERUSALEM.
BUT TO WHAT END? WHY WOULD THESE GROUPS BE OPPOSED TO THESE PROJECTS? BECAUSE DIFFERENT GROUPS HAD DIFFERENT AGENDAS AND SO THERE WAS NOT JUST ONE SINGLE CAUSE OR REASON FOR THE ADVERSITY ... BUT MANY REASONS WHY THE TEMPLE OF YAHUAH SHOULD BE STOPPED AT ALL COSTS . . .
JUST LIKE TODAY . . . THE BATTLE IN ON FOR HUMAN HEARTS !!
1Many adversaries living in the area were against the people returning from exile, for they heard that they were building a Temple for YAHUAH, the Alahim of Israel. So they came to Zerubbabel and to the family leaders and said, “Let us help you build the Temple. We're all the same, and we seek your Alahim the same as you do. Infact we’ve been offering sacrifices to Him ever since King Esarhaddon of Assyria brought us here.”
3But Zerubbabel, Jeshua, and the other family leaders of Israel answered, “No, we don’t have anything in common, so you people can’t help us build a House for YAHUAH. Only we alone are permitted to build this set-apart Temple, for YAHUAH is the living Alahim of Israel. This is what King Cyrus of Persia commanded us to do!"
ZERUBBABEL PULLS NO PUNCHES, CUTTING THEM OFF, INSULTING THEM (IN THIS HONOR-BASED CULTURE) AND OFFERING NO HOPE FOR FUTURE COLLABORATION! . . . WHY??
NOTICE THAT THESE WERE NOT WELL-MEANING AND SINCERE PEOPLE WHO WANTED TO BE GOOD NEIGHBOURS, BUT RATHERTHE TEXT CALLS THEM ADVERSARIES (ENEMIES) OF THE JEWS WHO SOUGHT TO PORTRAY THEMSELVES AS FRIENDS WHO SHARE A COMMON CAUSE, IN ORDER TO CLEVERLY GRAB HOLD OF THE BUILDING PROJECT, TO TURN IT INTO SOMETHING MORE IN LINE WITH THEIR AGENDA.
WHILE WE ARE COMMANDED BY YAHUSHA TO LOVE OUR ENEMIES, LIGHT CAN NEVER CO-EXIST WITH DARKNESS, NO MATTER WHAT THE GOOD INTENT - MIXING BEHAVIOUR YAHUSHA CONSIDERS FLAT-OUT WRONG WITH HIS BRIDE … IS NOT PERMITTED!!
. . . AND WE MUST ADDRESS IT WHEN IT ARISES !!
4So these adversaries began to hinder and discourage Judah, trying to frighten them in order to stop the building of the Temple. 5These enemies hired government officials to work against the people of Judah. The officials constantly did things to stop the Jews’ plans to build the Temple. This continued the whole time that Cyrus was the King until Darius became the King of Persia. 6These enemies even wrote letters to the King of Persia trying to stop the Jews. They wrote a letter the year that Xerxes became the King of Persia.
REMEMBER THAT EVEN WHEN THE JEWS WERE PERMITTED TO GO HOME TO ISRAEL, IT WAS NOT TO BECOME THEIR OWN SOVEREIGN NATION - BUT MERELY TO LIVE AND WORSHIP AS THEY PLEASED - BUT STILL UNDER THE PERSIAN RULE.
SO THESE ENEMIES IN JERUSALEM WERE MOSTLY FOREIGNERS IMPORTED BY THE ASSYRIANS TO THE AREA OF SAMARIA AND OTHER PARTS OF THE FORMER KINGDOM OF EPHRAIM-ISRAEL, (THE AREA OF THE 10 NORTHERN TRIBES). RECALL THAT AROUND 723 B.C. THE ASSYRIANS CONQUERED THE NORTHERN KINGDOM AND DEPORTED AND SCATTERED THE 10 ISRAELITE TRIBES ALL OVER ASIA. ONCE THE LAND WAS EMPTIED OF HEBREWS, THEY BEGAN IMMEDIATELY IMPORTING PEOPLE FROM OTHER CONQUERED NATIONS TO REPLACE THEM. THIS WAS STANDARD OPERATING PROCEDURE FOR THE ASSYRIAN GOVERNMENT - A NATION OR KINGDOM WAS OVERRUN, THE PEOPLE WERE REMOVED AND SCATTERED, AND A DIFFERENT AND FOREIGN PEOPLE WERE BROUGHT IN TO REPLACE THEM. THIS PRODUCED A COMPLETELY RUPTURED SOCIAL FABRIC THAT THE ASSYRIANS BELIEVED MADE REBELLION ALL THE MORE DIFFICULT.
NO DOUBT THERE WERE FAMILY REMNANTS OF SOME OF THE 10 TRIBES WHO HAD FOR ONE REASON OR ANOTHER ESCAPED THE ASSYRIAN DEPORTATION WELL OVER 2 CENTURIES EARLIER. BUT BY NOW THEY WERE WELL ASSIMILATED THROUGH INTER-MARRIAGE WITH OTHER ETHNIC GROUPS, AND THROUGH THE TYPICAL PAGAN RELIGIONS THESE FOREIGNERS HAD BROUGHT WITH THEM.
SO WHILE A DISTANT MEMORY OF THEIR HEBREW IDENTITY MIGHT HAVE EXISTED IN SOME (AS WELL AS INCLUDING YAHUAH IN WHATEVER MULTIPLE - DEITY - PANTHEON THEY WORSHIPPED), THEY INDEED WOULD HAVE NOTHING IN COMMON WITH ALOT OF THESE ZEALOUS AND OBEDIENT JEWISH EXILES WHO FELT UNCLEAN (REMEMBER YAHUSHA CAME FOR THE SINNERS, PROSTITUTE, TAX COLLECTORS ETC) AND THEY DESPERATELY WANTED TO GET RIGHT WITH THEIR CREATOR AGAIN BY RESTORING THE TEMPLE SERVICES - AND GETTING CLEAN AGAIN!!
7Later, when Artaxerxes became the new King of Persia, some of these men wrote another letter complaining about the Jews. The men who wrote the letter were Bishlam, Mithredath, Tabeel, and the other people in their group. The letter was written in Aramaic (BABYLONIAN HEBREW) and translated.
8Then Rehum the commanding officer and Shimshai the secretary wrote a letter against the people of Jerusalem. They wrote the letter to Artaxerxes the King. This is what they wrote:
9'From Rehum the commanding officer and Shimshai the secretary, and from the Judges and important officials over the men from Tripolis, Persia, Erech, and Babylon, and from the Elamites from Susa, 10and from the other people who the great and powerful Ashurbanipal moved to the city of Samaria and other places in the country west of the Euphrates River.
11This is the copy of the letter sent to King Artaxerxes:
From your servants living in the area west of the Euphrates River. 12King Artaxerxes, we wish to inform you that the Jews you sent from there are now in Jerusalem. They are trying to build that terrible city again. The people there have always rebelled against other Kings. Now they have almost finished repairing the foundations and building the walls.
13Also, King Artaxerxes, you should know that if Jerusalem and its walls are built again, the people of Jerusalem will stop paying their taxes. They will stop sending money to honour you. They also will stop paying customs fees, and the King will lose all that money.
14We have a responsibility to the King. We don’t want to see this happen, so we are sending this letter to inform the King. 15King Artaxerxes, we suggest that you search the writings of the Kings who ruled before you. You will see in the writings that Jerusalem always rebelled against other Kings. It has caused much trouble for other Kings and nations. Many rebellions have started in this city since ancient times. That is why Jerusalem was destroyed.
16King Artaxerxes, we wish to inform you that if this city and its walls are rebuilt, you will lose control of the area west of the Euphrates River'.
17Then King Artaxerxes sent this answer:
'To Rehum the commanding officer, Shimshai the secretary, and all the people with them living in Samaria and other places west of the Euphrates River.
18The letter you sent us has been translated and read to me. 19I gave an order for the writings of the Kings before me to be searched. The writings were read, and we found out that Jerusalem has a long history of rebellion against Kings. Jerusalem has been a place where rebellion and revolt has happened often. 20Jerusalem has had powerful Kings ruling over it and over the whole area west of the Euphrates River. Their Kings received taxes, customs, fees, and tribute.
21Now, you must give an order for these men to stop work. That order must be given to keep Jerusalem from being built again until I say so. 22Be careful not to overlook this matter. We should not let the building of Jerusalem continue. If that work continues, I will not get any more money from Jerusalem'.
23So a copy of the letter that King Artaxerxes sent was read to Rehum, Shimshai the secretary, and the people with them. They went very quickly to the Jews in Jerusalem and forced them to stop building. 24So the work stopped on YAHUAH’S Temple in Jerusalem, and did not continue until the second year that Darius was King of Persia (AROUND 520 BC).
THE TEMPLE BUILDING PROJECT BEGAN WITH JOY AND HIGH EXPECTATIONS. IT WAS APPROACHED WITH REVERENCE AND ENTHUSIASM TO RETURN TO TRUE, SET-APART COVENANT RELATIONSHIP. BUT ALMOST IMMEDIATELY THESE JEWS RAN INTO STRONG ADVERSITY AND OPPOSITION, WHICH PLAYS OUT FOR THE REST OF EZRA AND INTO NEHEMIAH.
THE SAMARIANS CONSTANTLY CONSPIRED WITH THE PERSIAN GOVERNMENT TO STOP THE BUILDING OF THE TEMPLE. AFTER THE TEMPLE CONSTRUCTION WAS HALTED IT WOULD NOT BE UNTIL EARLY IN DARIUS’ REIGN THAT THE HOPES AND DREAMS OF THE JEWISH EXILES TO CONSTRUCT THE TEMPLE AND GET CLEAN WOULD BEGIN ANEW.
IT CAN’T BE OVERLOOKED THAT NOT ALL THE JEWS WHO CAME BACK HAD SPIRITUAL MATTERS IN THE FOREFRONT OF THEIR MINDS. SOME (THOSE CALLED THE HEADS OF THEIR FATHER’S CLANS) HAD AN AGENDA OF RECLAIMING THEIR LAND HOLDINGS AND POSSESSIONS THAT THEY HAD LEFT BEHIND WHEN THEY WERE FORCEFULLY EXILED TO BABYLON, BUT WERE NOW BEING HELD BY OTHERS (SOME FOREIGNERS, SOME JEWS, AND SOME MIXED ETHNICITIES) WHO THEY SAW AS SQUATTERS. NO DOUBT THIS GROUP OF JEWS COUNTED THEMSELVES AS AMONG THE RIGHTEOUS AND USED A HIGH-MINDED SPIRITUAL RATIONALE FOR THEIR RETURN, EVEN THOUGH IT WAS ONLY A THINLY VEILED COVER FOR THEIR PRIMARY INTENT, WHICH WAS PROPERTY RECOVERY. AND THE SAMARITANS WOULD HAVE SUSPECTED THAT THIS WAS THE REAL AIM OF ALL OF THE RETURNING JEWS. SO FROM THE BEGINNING THE SAMARITANS DIDN’T ACCEPT THAT THE BUILDING OF JERUSALEM WAS ABOUT SPIRITUALITY, BUT INSTEAD IT WAS ABOUT ESTABLISHING JEWISH POLITICAL CONTROL AND AN OCCUPATION OVER THE REGION.
THE ROMANS THOUGHT THE SAME ABOUT YAHUSHA’S BEHAVIOUR REVOLUTION ALSO, AND YAHUSHA TOLD US THAT WOLVES WILL ENTER THE FLOCK WITH THEIR OWN AGENDAS TO USE AND MANIPULATE IN ORDER FEED THEIR OWN POWER, POSITION AND WEALTH.
( H E B R E W U N D E R S T A N D I N G )
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7451- bad or evil (natural or moral):-- adversity, affliction, bad, calamity, displeaseure, distress, evil, grief, harm, heavy, hurtful, ill-favoured, mischiefous, misery, naughty, noisome, not please, sadly, sore, sorrow, trouble, vex, wickedly, worsst, wretchedness, wrong.
THE WORK OF YAHUSHA IN ALL AGES HAS KNOWN THE PRESSURE AND PERSECUTIONS OF THOSE WHO WOULD SEEK TO FRUSTRATE ITS ADVANCE. RISK AND DISCOMFORT FOR YAHUSHA’S BRIDE IS USUAL. ADVERSITY IS NORMAL!
“INDEED, ALL WHO WANT TO LIVE A SET-APART LIFE IN MESSIAH YAHUSHA WILL BE PERSECUTED, WHILE EVIL PEOPLE AND IMPOSTORS WILL GO FROM BAD TO WORSE, DECEIVING OTHERS AND BEING DECEIVED THEMSELVES”.
"IF THE WORLD HATES YOU, UNDERSTAND THAT IT HATED ME FIRST. IF YOU BELONGED TO THE WORLD, THE WORLD WOULD HAVE LOVED ITS OWN. BUT BECAUSE YOU DO NOT BELONG TO THE WORLD - ON THE CONTRARY, I HAVE PICKED YOU OUT OF THE WORLD - THEREFORE THE WORLD HATES YOU.
THE JEWS OF ZERUBBABEL’S, THEN EZRA’S, THEN NEHEMIAH’S DAY HAD TO LEARN THIS SAME LESSON BEFORE YAHUAH ALLOWED THE TEMPLE TO FINALLY BE BUILT. BUT FOR A WHILE, THEY SEEMED TO TAKE A PATH TO TRY TO FIND A POLITICAL COMPROMISE IN ORDER TO BRING THE DESIRED RESULT.
LIKEWISE WITH THE SHADOW (ISRAEL) SO IT IS WITH THE FULFILMENT (YAHUSHA’S BRIDAL FELLOWSHIP TODAY) WHERE THE ETERNAL HOUSE IS BEING BUILT - THE LIVELY STONES BEING SHAPED AND CHISELLED AND SMOOTHED IN ORDER TO PRESENT THEM FULLY FORMED AND PERFECT AT THE COMING OF YAHUSHA MESSIAH … TO BE USED IN THE MOST MARVELLOUS OF MARRIAGE HOMES … THE NEW JERUSALEM …
BUT THESE LIVING TEMPLES AND HOUSES OF YAHUSHA CANNOT MATURE WITHOUT ADVERSITY TO STRENGTHEN & TRAIN US :
“COUNT IT ALL JOY, BROTHERS AND SISTERS, WHEN YOU FALL INTO VARIOUS TRIALS, KNOWING THAT THE TESTING OF YOUR BELIEF WORKS ENDURANCE. AND LET ENDURANCE HAVE ITS PERFECT WORK, SO THAT YOU MAY BE PERFECT, MATURE AND COMPLETE, LACKING IN NOTHING”.
SCRIPTURE SHOWS US THAT IT’S NECESSARY FOR YAHUSHA’S BRIDE TO BECOME COMFORTABLE WITH BEING MADE UNCOMFORTABLE FOR HER SPIRITUAL MATURITY.
THE JEWS OF ZERUBBABEL AND EZRA'S ERA NO DOUBT HAPPILY JOURNEYED BACK TO JERUSALEM, KING CYRUS’ DECREE IN HAND, BELIEVING THAT WHAT LAY AHEAD WAS SMOOTH SEAS, CLEAR SKIES, NEAR UNIVERSAL ACCEPTANCE OF THEIR DIVINELY-INSPIRED MISSION TO BUILD THEIR CITY AND TEMPLE AGAIN, AND THAT THE ONLY BARRIERS TO SUCCESS WOULD BE THE PRACTICAL REALITIES OF TIME AND FUNDS TO ORGANISE, PLAN, GATHER CONSTRUCTION MATERIALS, AND THE INEVITABLE DELAYS CAUSED BY WEATHER, ERRORS, AND SCHEDULES THAT WERE TOO AGGRESSIVE.
THEY SEEM TO HAVE BEEN SURPRISED, AND BECAME DISCOURAGED, AT THE UNEXPECTED AND VIOLENT OPPOSITION TO THEIR PLANS. WAS YAHUAH, PERHAPS, NOT IN THIS AFTER ALL? HOW COULD HE FOLLOW THROUGH WITH HIS PROMISE TO FIRST EXILE THE JEWS FOR THEIR WHORING, THEN KEEP THEM IN EXILE FOR 70 YEARS, AND THEN AFTER A PROPER PERIOD OF DISCIPLINE SEND THEM HOME ONLY TO FIND THEIR HOPES AND DREAMS BLOCKED AT EVERY TURN?