52 Years of Aggravation

Ezra 4:1-6 ESV
"1 Now when the adversaries of Judah and Benjamin heard that the returned exiles were building a temple to the LORD, the God of Israel,
2 they approached Zerubbabel and the heads of fathers’ houses and said to them, "Let us build with you, for we worship your God as you do, and we have been sacrificing to him ever since the days of Esarhaddon king of Assyria who brought us here."
3 But Zerubbabel, Jeshua, and the rest of the heads of fathers’ houses in Israel said to them, "You have nothing to do with us in building a house to our God; but we alone will build to the LORD, the God of Israel, as King Cyrus the king of Persia has commanded us."

4 Then the people of the land discouraged the people of Judah and made them afraid to build
5 and bribed counselors against them to frustrate their purpose, all the days of Cyrus king of Persia, even until the reign of Darius king of Persia.
6 And in the reign of Ahasuerus, in the beginning of his reign, they wrote an accusation against the inhabitants of Judah and Jerusalem."

That is a period of approximately 52 years.  Cyrus reigned from 576 to 550 BC. and Darius reigned from 550 to 486 BC. Ahasuerus or sometimes called Xerxes the first had forgotten the promise of his forefather Cyrus.  This project began somewhere around 538 or 537 BC.  So, from 538 to 486 BC. The people of God were aggravated beyond measure.  The Hebrew word that is translated as "discourage" here is:  hpr Raphah and it means to sink, relax, sink down, let drop, be disheartened.  The Hebrew word that is translated "made them afraid" is:  lhb Bahal and it means to disturb, alarm, terrify, hurry, be disturbed, be anxious, be afraid, be hurried, be nervous.  God's people were aggravated, tormented, and discouraged to the point where they physically wanted to quit working for God, and I am sure that some did.  Some of us may not even live to be 52, and I am certain that there were those in Ezra's day who only knew this kind of persecution.  There are people living today who experience mostly persecution and harassment.  I think of the underground church in most third world countries.  I remember seeing a video of a man who was burned with irons and lived to tell the story.  He was tortured because he professed that Jesus Christ is Lord in an Islamic country.  It is amazing that he lived.  I remember a friend of mine from Burma who told me that he was beaten by Military police in his country for smuggling Bibles through a checkpoint.  He had to flee to India for a year to avoid being killed. Are these two men I mentioned filled with the Spirit?  You better believe it.  God loves them.  There are some today who would say that those people were cursed.  Well, I suppose that they are right, but the truth is that the person making such a statement is also cursed.  The flesh, soul, and this world is under the curse of Adam.  Matthew 5:45 displays that God sends the sunshine and the rain on the just and the unjust.  He is no respecter of persons.  But, I can say that the good news is that Jesus Christ became a curse so that many could find freedom for their soul from the curse of Adam which leads to death and hell (Galatians 3:10-14).  Adam's curse is still on the body, but the soul is being renewed day by day for those who believe the Gospel of Jesus Christ and are following it out of faith.  So, be encouraged if you are reading this and you are facing trouble in your days.  You are not alone.  God's people in the day of Ezra and many saints before faced trouble for their faithfulness.  If you are suffering in any way for The Name, God bless you.


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