Ezra 4:1-4--When the enemies of Judah and Benjamin heard that the returned exiles were building a temple for Yahweh, the God of Israel, they approached Zerubbabel and the leaders of the families and said to them, “Let us build with you, for we also worship your God and have been sacrificing to Him since the time King Esar-haddon of Assyria brought us here.” But Zerubbabel, Jeshua, and the other leaders of Israel’s families answered them, “You may have no part with us in building a house for our God, since we alone must build it for Yahweh, the God of Israel, as King Cyrus, the king of Persia has commanded us.” Then the people who were already in the land discouraged the people of Judah and made them afraid to build.
It sounded like a great request. The Jewish exiles from Babylon were ready to rebuild their temple in Jerusalem and the local inhabitants wanted to help. But the leadership rightfully used King Cyrus’ specific instructions for the Jews to build as a reason to refuse help (1:3). Why didn’t they say yes? Here is where we find the power and importance of spiritual discernment.
The local inhabitants didn’t worship God but rather an assortment of gods. Second Kings chapter 17 identifies the pagan deities the people Assyria deported into Israel worshiped. They weren’t interested in providing a beautiful temple to Yahweh and could easily have insisted that the new temple incorporate features that would accommodate their pagan practices.
The local residents asked to help because they saw an easy way to subvert a rebuilding project. They hated the Jews and were dead set against a temple being built. Once their offer to help was turned down, they revealed their true motives by executing systematic opposition which halted the temple rebuilding during the reign of Cyrus (4:24).
Spiritual discernment is vital to God’s people. If we are not careful we can set ourselves up for defeat by acquiescing to the requests of people who do not have God’s agenda at heart. Imagine you are a Christian restaurant owner and a Muslim enters your establishment and asks you to remove all items from the menu that contain pork because this is offensive to him. If your desire is to be a good neighbor, you may agree to his request. But this is a serious mistake for his heart is not concerned so much with choice of meat as it is with forcing you to align with his own beliefs. Once you give in to his demands you start down a path he intends to dismantle your faith and require adherence to his religion. If you refuse his request don’t be surprised if he lodges a lawsuit against you or tries to change the minds of local officials to rule in his favor.
If you think this is absurd, look what is happening already in secular European nations that have allowed hundreds of thousands of Muslims to live in their countries. These inhabitants are not assimilating they are working hard to establish numerical superiority and legal systems that favor their religion. Their agenda is not to help the existing systems work, their agenda is to systematically take over Europe and eventually the world.
In this world, it is not hard to find trouble. Just as there will always be those who hate the Jews, so there will be those who despise followers of Christ. When you are blessed with favor, power, or legal rights be sure to protect yourself and be faithful to share the message of truth God has entrusted with you. When the day comes that any of those privileges are gone, you may have to flee or die for your faith. Meanwhile, if you trust and ask Him, God will show you when you can’t say yes.
Always beware when you are perfectly certain you are right, so certain that you do not dream of asking God’s counsel. Our confidence rests not with our wits, but with God. We must never depend on our own moral judgment or our intellectual discernment or our sense of right and justice. All these are right in themselves, but not right in us; we can only be right as we remain absolutely confident in God.—Oswald Chamber in Not Knowing Where
©2017 Daniel York ARR. Reveration is the weekly devotional ministry of First Cause. If you would like to receive these devotionals go to www.firstcause.org and click on the “Click here to receive weekly devotionals” box. Unlimited permission to copy this devotional without altering text or profiteering is allowed subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.
Ecclesiastes 12:10-The Teacher sought to find delightful sayings and to accurately write words of truth. (Holman CSB)