The supernatural return of a remnant of Jews from Babylon continues as they collect money, gather materials, and commence the rebuilding of the temple. The foundation is finished and great rejoicing ensues. Loud shouts of joy and weeping of some elderly create an electrifying sound in the atmosphere.
The sound comes as an alarm to the ears of the enemies in the land. They don’t want the temple rebuilt.
Ezra chapter four is a picture of the way our enemy, the devil, will try to stop us today as we do the Lord’s work. If we study it carefully, we will recognize some of his tactics and we will be able to stand against them. There are basically five tactics that they (and he) use to stop the work.
First, they don’t want it built, so they say ,”Let us help you.”(4:2) Now, think about it. They first want to sabotage the building from within. That’s where the enemy starts when he wants to stop your work for the Lord. Since your battlefield is in the mind, he will give you ideas which will compromise your work and eradicate its effectiveness. He wants to stop your pure adherence to what God is telling you to do.(These thoughts will often come to the members of a church as it is reaching out for then lost. He causes great criticism of the leadership).
Second, he will bring discouragement. Your thoughts will begin to doubt your ability to do what God has called you to do. (4:4)
Third, he will frighten you. He will make you think that your zeal for the Lord will cause you to lose your friends. In your giving, he will try to tell you that God won’t provide if you give too much.
Fourth, he will “frustrate your counsel.”(4:5) Again he will try to bring confusing direction to you so that you will not be sure what to do.
Fifth, when none of the above works, he will try to bring decrees against you to stop your work. Think of all the lawsuits which have been filed against schools and city governments, trying to get people to stop praying or sharing the gospel. There are many out there, some of whom don’t even realize that they are being used by the devil to stop God’s work. They don’t like Christian practices and they try to stop them by court injunctions, etc.
Now these tactics apply whether you are trying to lead a Godly home, or a Godly church. The devil doesn’t come to you with a red suit and a pitchfork. He is tricky and he tries to come in a way that you will accept.
When you think of the thoughts and emotions which come to you when you are about to pray with someone or share the gospel with someone, you will begin to see how the devil works. (By the way, it’s really not “the devil,” since there is only one of him. The voice you hear is from one of his demons).
Now to be clear, this “voice” I’m talking about is not really a voice you hear with your ears, unless he has sent someone to speak to you. The voice you hear the most is a thought in your mind. He whispers to your mind, so that if you aren’t aware, you will think those are your own thoughts.
We’ve spent a lot of time today talking about the devil’s tactics. It’s important to know these tactics so that we can resist his attempts. When we see how he works, we can recognize where some negative thoughts are coming from, and not listen to them.
So discouragement, confusion, fear, and outright attacks against God’s work are some of the ways he tries to stop us.
Let’s don’t let him. If we resist him, he has to flee. (James 4:7)
Can you imagine what that was like for Jesus’ disciples to see Him appear after his resurrection? He had told them that after the third day, He would arise from the dead, but that was hard to comprehend. That didn’t make sense to the natural mind.
Yet His Word is true, and He begins appearing to them – first at the tomb, and then in the room where they are assembled.
Thomas is like many today. He has to have it proven to Him that Jesus is alive. So he puts his hands into Jesus’ side and sees the nail holes in His hands before he says, “My Lord and my God!”
Jesus says, “Because you have seen me, have you believed? Blessed are they who didn’t see me and yet believed.”(V.29)
That’s us today. We haven’t seen Him, unless in a dream or vision. Yet we have believed through His Word.
As we continue in our belief, He will prove Himself to us over and over. And the more we believe, the more we will see!
Kingdom rules are sometimes the opposite of natural rules. In the natural, we would say, “I have to see it to believe it.” In the kingdom, we have to believe it to see it.
Believe, and receive!