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Oppositions & Obstacles 2 – Here's Three More

Updated: Feb 24, 2020

Chan Gin Kai

Ezra 4:1-24

Oppositions and obstacles always appear whenever we try to serve God. If it’s any consolation, that’s because what we do threatens Satan. His kingdom is made up of the damned; we weaken his power when we reach out to the lost. He delights in seeing suffering; we rob him of his joy when we help the poor. He hates God with a vengeance; he seethes in anger when we devote our lives to God's glory.

So what does Satan do? He tries to disrupt our good work.

We saw three forms of oppositions in the last article, and we will examine three more in this. Yes, oppositions and obstacles come through different people, in many different ways.

People With Long Lasting Enmity

They bribed officials to work against them and frustrate their plans during the entire reign of Cyrus king of Persia and down to the reign of Darius king of Persia. At the beginning of the reign of Xerxes, they lodged an accusation against the people of Judah and Jerusalem. And in the days of Artaxerxes king of Persia, Bishlam, Mithredath, Tabeel and the rest of his associates wrote a letter to Artaxerxes. The letter was written in Aramaic script and in the Aramaic language. (Ezra 4:5-7)

The Samaritans started opposing the Jews from the moment they started rebuilding the Temple around 536 BC. They managed to delay the rebuilding work, but the Temple was completed 20 years later. So the Samaritans started to oppose the rebuilding of the city walls instead. The opposition went on and on, from the time of Cyrus, through the reigns of succeeding kings until 457 BC, for almost 80 years!

Some opposition lasts for a long time. They can be a thorn in the flesh, a pain that refuses to go away. They may wane for a while, giving us a little respite, and then rise again with renewed aggression. If they refuse to give up, why should we?

The danger is when we get lulled into complacency, thinking that a break is a stop. Who says they will give up just because we’ve succeeded? If anything, our victory may get them more envious, and spur them to foil our next endeavour.

Our opposers can be stubborn in their hatred for us, but we can be determined in our love for God. We can outlast them.

People Who Lie Against Us

(This is a copy of the letter they sent him.)

To King Artaxerxes,

From your servants in Trans-Euphrates:

The king should know that the people who came up to us from you have gone to Jerusalem and are rebuilding that rebellious and wicked city. They are restoring the walls and repairing the foundations. Furthermore, the king should know that if this city is built and its walls are restored, no more taxes, tribute or duty will be paid, and eventually the royal revenues will suffer. Now since we are under obligation to the palace and it is not proper for us to see the king dishonoured, we are sending this message to inform the king, so that a search may be made in the archives of your predecessors. In these records you will find that this city is a rebellious city, troublesome to kings and provinces, a place with a long history of sedition. That is why this city was destroyed. We inform the king that if this city is built and its walls are restored, you will be left with nothing in Trans-Euphrates. (Ezra 4:11-16)

The Samaritans told a mix of half-truths and lies in their letter to Artaxerxes. Though it is true that the ancestors of the Jews had rebelled against other kings, they had no intention of doing the same. They had not plotted to stop paying taxes, to break away, or to turn others against Artaxerxes. But the Samaritans managed to craft a convincing lie by twisting facts. The Samaritans used the Jews' past history to build a bad image of them.

Satan is the father of lies (John 8:44), so those who follow him will be deceitful like he is. They are crafty and manipulative. They will use whatever information they get, whatever truths they know, and twist them into daggers of lies to stab us.

These liars may play the victims, poor souls who have suffered because of “wrongs” we’ve committed against them. Or they may pretend to be the good guys, painting their schemes against us as their contribution to society. They will use our past against us, seizing any mistakes we’ve made in history, or any remote wrongs they can associate with us to create a bad image of us.

What can we do? There will be some who will foolishly believe them. We may fear the damage to our reputation and worry about what others may think. But let’s not lose heart, the truth will prevail and we will be vindicated.

People Who Can Legally Stop Us

As soon as the copy of the letter of King Artaxerxes was read to Rehum and Shimshai the secretary and their associates, they went immediately to the Jews in Jerusalem and compelled them by force to stop. (Ezra 4:23)

Artaxerxes read the deceitful letter from the Samaritans and he used his authority as king to force the Jews to stop their work.

Sadly, what’s legal is not always moral, and what’s right isn’t always lawful. As Christians, we are expected to follow both the laws of men and the call of God. How do we do so if they contradict each other?

We need to seek advice and pray for wisdom. God will provide a way, and He will give us strength. We need to pray for our country’s leaders too. “I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people – for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.” (1 Timothy 2:1-2)

Persecution can come from the highest places. In some countries, brothers and sisters in the faith are banned from meeting. Many have been arrested and some have been killed. We need to pray for them.

In the 20th year of Artaxerxes' reign (444 BC), Nehemiah got permission from Artaxerxes to rebuild the city and walls of Jerusalem. The rest, as they say, is history.

God is able to change the mind of even the highest authorities. Oppositions and obstacles can come our way. But through God, we will emerge victorious.

Read more about 'Oppositions & Obstacles':

Oppositions & Obstacles 1 - Thee Kinds Of Opposers Oppositions & Obstacles 3 - The Battle Within Oppositions & Obstacles 4 - God Is With Us

Chan Gin Kai

Gin Kai is a film producer who believes in the power of media to inspire positive changes. He has spearheaded disaster relief and capacity building projects in impoverished communities across Asia. In church, he serves as a mentor to young professionals in the EDGE Ministry. He describes himself as "just a sinner who wants to get right with God". Gin Kai joined the Central Christian Church in 1988.

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