God Sustains Us Through Adversity
Ezra 4:1-7; 5:1-5; 6:13-22
Ezra – one of the historical books written between 440 and 400 B.C. sometime after the exiles returned to Jerusalem from Babylon captivity. While the book bears Ezra’s name it is uncertain who actually authored the book.
Ezra was a Levitical priest, and may have held a high office in Persia.
The events of the book are from 538 to 438 B.C. during the reigns of the Persian kings Cyrus the Great, Darius I, Xerxes I, and Artaxerxes I.
Ezra would have been a contemporary of Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi.
The Book of Ezra chronicles the return from exile, the struggles of the Jews to remain faithful to the Mosaic Law, the building and dedication of the Temple.
Life’s Verse - “For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the law of the Lord, and to do it, and to teach in Israel statutes and judgments” (Ezra 7:10). Study the Word, learn it and live it, then share it … you cannot share what you do not do know and you should not share what you do not live.
Expect opposition when obeying God (Ezra 4:1-7).
Timeless truth – Obedience to God will often result in opposition.
“… all that will live godly shall suffer persecution” (2 Timothy 3:12).
“If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you” (John 15:19).
How should believers respond to opposition/persecution?
Can you give a personal example of being persecuted for your faith?
In a “politically correct” society what happens when someone stands for biblical morality and scriptural principles ?
Personal note – Zerubbabel refused to allow the enemies of Judah to participate in the building of the Temple? Why would they refuse assistance? How does this passage address a church seeking assistance from the world (bake sales, standing on the corner seeking contributions, etc)? Should a church ever DEPEND on those outside the church for financial support? Discuss “tithes and offerings” as the biblical means for church operations.
Listen to God’s Word, not opposing voices (Ezra 5:1-5).
The enemies of Judah attempted to cast doubts concerning the rebuilding of the Temple. If enough people began questioning the authority to rebuild, soon the construction would cease.
List some of the rationale the world offers against the teachings of Scripture, especially in the moral arena.
The enemies of Judah used fear tactics to stop or slow down the building of the Temple.
How would you respond if you were threatened with a jail sentence if you continued to stand for the Word of God? (do you think that this may soon be a reality in America)?
Celebrate God’s transforming work in others (Ezra 6:13-22).
Stand firm in your faith …. Complete what you start … don’t give up …
The wonder of this story is the cooperation of God’s people to a common task, and God’s faithfulness to bless their obedience.
Celebrate every success … it honors God and it creates hope and joy.
Theological Theme: God will actively be involved in the lives of those who, because of their faith, are being persecuted.
Christological Theme: Like Christ, His followers will face persecution
Missional Theme: The believer’s faithfulness in the face of adversity witness the greatness of God.