“they came to Zerubbabel and the leaders and said to them, “Let us help you build, for like you we seek your God and we have been sacrificing to him from the time of King Esarhaddon of Assyria, who brought us here.” But Zerubbabel, Jeshua, and the rest of the leaders of Israel said to them, “You have no right to help us build the temple of our God. We will build it by ourselves for the Lord God of Israel, just as King Cyrus, the king of Persia, has commanded us…..” At the beginning of the reign of Ahasuerus they filed an accusation against the inhabitants of Judah and Jerusalem……So the work on the temple of God in Jerusalem came to a halt. It remained halted until the second year of the reign of King Darius of Persia.” Ezra 4:2-3, 6, 24 NET https://bible.com/bible/107/ezr.4.2-6.NET
While Israel was rebuilding the temple to fulfill God’s promise to Jeremiah and in response to His blessing through Cyrus, the king of Persia, the people around them resisted their work. This resistance came first from trying to make an alliance. They wanted to work with the Jews to build the temple of God, claiming to be fellow worshippers of the One True God. The religious leaders among the Jews rejected their partnership because they were not true Jews. This led to their neighbors now working against them. They succeeded in stopping the Jews from their work for quite some time, all during the reign of king Ahasuerus. What are the lessons from this story for us? First, unholy alliances should be resisted. New governments make for new opportunities, but the people of God must be committed to the ways of their God regardless. 2023 has a new Michigan government, what it will be like is to be determined, but the Christians must stay united and faithful to their God and His word. Second, while God’s will is clear, God’s blessing is apparent. The enemies of God will also clearly work against the people of God and sometimes, at least temporarily, thwart God’s good will. The Jews must have been discouraged and incredulous that their temple work had to stop, but it did for a time. God’s will is always accomplished but not always how we think or when we believe it should be accomplished. Finally, the book of Ezra concludes with the temple being built. This means we must persevere in God’s will even when God’s work takes a different form than previously done. We must persevere in prayer and persuading others until God’s kingdom comes and His will is done on earth as it is in heaven no matter who the ‘king’ is or who works against us or how severe the difficulty is during the process.