Ezra 4  The Enemy Defaming



Chuck Swindoll has a book titled, Three Steps Forward, Two Steps Back That title fits Ezra 4.

A)We have seen After 70 yrs of Captivity how God had stirred up the heart of the pagan King Cyrus to issue a decree for the Jews to return to their land and rebuild His temple.


B)Awesome one step forward!

1)Fifty thousand Jews responded by giving up their lives in Babylon and making the long, dangerous trek back to the land.

                         Two steps forward!


C)They rebuilt the altar, gathered in Jerusalem, celebrated the Feast of TAb and laid the foundation for the new temple. Three steps forward!


Then the enemy hit and the work on the temple stopped. One step back

A)The work ceased for 16 long years. Two steps back.



Whenever you make a commitment to the Lord, to Build to grow – to improve be prepared to face the enemy’s unrelenting attempts to set you back.

A)Consider his attacks in this Chapter and draw some connections to our lives!





1st Infiltration:


Now when the adversaries of Judah and Benjamin heard that the descendants of the captivity were building the temple of the LORD God of Israel, 2 they came to Zerubbabel and the heads of the fathers' houses, and said to them, "Let us build with you, for we seek your God as you do; and we have sacrificed to Him since the days of Esarhaddon king of Assyria, who brought us here."


 Let us Build with you!  for we seek your God as you do; and we have sacrificed to Him

A)The issue here was not one of just wanting to lend a helping hand – foreigners helped build Solomon’s temple


B)They were wanting to take ownership ! We worship the same God – We worship just like you


C)Who were these who said: “Let’s work together... Let’s build the temple together


D)NT name for this group was SAMARITAINS.


Many years earlier, the ten northern tribes were carried into captivity by the Assyrians.

A)The two southern tribes were still in tact in the south.


B)Only the poor people were allowed to remain in the land.

C)The Assyrians came and repopulated the land. But they ran into a problem.

1)Mountain lions began to multiply in the land and wipe out the Assyrians that had repopulated the northern part of Israel.


D)They assumed that their problems stemmed from not

knowing the custom of the god of the land.

Bad Karma 


They sent word back to Assyria to send back some of the priests of the northern kingdom thinking that they could learn the religion of Israel and thus appease the God of Israel.

A)So these priest were sent back – to teach these pagans how to worship Jehovah


B)Kind of Ironic – Many of these priest had participated in the idolatry that was part of the cause for Israel being taken captive


C)They got in trouble for worshipping false gods

1)And now they are forced to come and show the Assyrians who worshipped false Gods how to worship the true God


D)So the Assyrians begin to start sacrificing to Jehovah but kept worshipping their idols

1)At the same time – Marrying the Jews who were left in the Land – thus Samaritans were Born


The problem of these people was syncretism.

A)A Fusion of two different Philosophies lifestyles and systems of belief.


B) Remember the very suggestion was not just to help but to Join in the Process


B)It would be Similar if the Mormons came to us and said –

1)We want to help you build your new Church and we will Merge together.


B)They believe in a different Jesus – Not God in the flesh!


C)For Zerub to agree would be compromising his faith!


D)Problem to today with the Ecumenical movement:


Join faiths – focus on what we agree on – Faith is important / Helping Pp is important / Family / Community

1)Hey if your God is Buddha / Allah / Jesus is a Prophet – doesn’t matter


E)It does – Jesus is either God in the flesh who came to die for our sins or he is nothing but a liar and Lunatic!


A)We don’t believe the same - Why not make peace with them and let them work together with us?”

B)The answer is, for the same reason that you don’t drink water that is only a little bit polluted.

It will poison you!



3 But Zerubbabel and Jeshua and the rest of the heads of the fathers' houses of Israel said to them, “You may do nothing with us to build a house for our God; but we alone will build to the LORD God of Israel, as King Cyrus the king of Persia has commanded us."


Feud Between Jews and Samaritans began right here would continue to grow.

A)Samaritans refused to worship in Jerusalem – Mt Gershom was their spot


B)Jews refused to acknowledge them.


C)Jesus later fixes the Problem: Not where But Who!


So the attack started with an attempt to infiltrate

If we resist the enemy’s subtle approach, he will show his true colors by a more aggressive opposition.


The enemy often uses the tool of discouragement and troubling.

4 Then the people of the land tried to discourage the people of Judah. They troubled them in building, 5 and hired counselors against them to frustrate their purpose all the days of Cyrus king of Persia, even until the reign of Darius king of Persia.

We are not sure how they did this – Could have been that they they said, “If you rebuild this temple, it’s just going to get torn down again.”

A)It is going to take forever – you are never going to finish!  Why Bother


B) Maybe they forced them to do an ERI / traffic studies.


C)Satan often uses the tool of discouragement & Frustration  He whispers to us, “What you’re doing won’t make any difference in this world or in eternity.


D)Those kids you teach don’t appreciate your efforts. Why bother? Just quit and enjoy yourself.”


He tries to discourage pastors when people we have worked with turn against us, spread unjustified criticism, and lead others out of the church.


He Screams  “You see! You’re  just laboring in vain!”


Time is always a tool of Frustration and discouragement  Here is a Principle to Christian growth and life.

A)Nothing good happens over night!


B)Labor Process – Like a Baby 9 months


C)If you let him God is going to do something in you way before he is does something thru – you

1)No fruit – but there is fruit in happening in you.

I have had times in my life where I was trying so hard to do the right thing or what I felt God was leading me to do – where I have felt what is the use

A)Just pack it in! – Give it up!


B)We live in a day and age – where few hang in there!

1)Rarely see it thru the hard times the times of discouragement


C))What if Paul quit – No NT


Jesus the Joy set before him he endured …..


We mistakenly assume that if the Lord is in it, we won’t have hassles, setbacks, and frustrations  trying to get it done.


Reading Christian biographies can help here. You hear about a  man like Hudson Taylor and wrongly assume that he started the China Inland Mission and (presto!) thousands came to Christ.


He did start the mission and eventually thousands did come to Christ, but not without innumerable problems and setbacks that had to be  overcome.


Reading the story of what he went through can give you

the perspective and strength to endure when you face strong opposition in whatever God calls you to do.


The enemy is going to try to discourage you at every turn – hang in there preserve –


“Never doubt in the dark what God told you in the light.”


A)Not worrying about yesterday or tomorrow & focusing on today.


PROBLEM: I have found that when I am worried, it usually has nothing to do with TODAY, it is concern about TOMORROW.


B)“I’m O.K. today, but I can’t believe what’s coming next week..... I don’t know what I’m going to do.


Here is the Problem: The worry comes when I try to cross the bridges that I will face next week in the ability and strength that I possess today.


Deut 33:25 As your days, so shall your strength be. 


Today’s Strength

A)He does NOT give to me the capacity and strength TODAY to face the issues of next month.


QUOTE HYMN: “Day by day, and with each passing moment, strength I find to meet my trials here.”




3rd Attack: False accusation:


 In 4:6-23, we have a long parenthesis where Ezra shares examples of the opposition that came later.

A)Spread out over 4 Kings from Cyrus Ahasuerus { Xerxes


B)His son King Artaxerxes  whom Nehemiah served. Israel’s.


C)The enemy wrote letters to these Kings filled with false accusations and half truths.

                                                             Rd v.6,7 11-16



They said these pp are rebels!


They said that if the city were rebuilt, the Jews

would stop paying taxes (4:13).

A)That will get any king’s attention!


B)The critics also claimed to be loyal to the king. The literal phrase is, “we eat the salt of the palace” (4:14).


C)The Egyptian kings had made salt a royal monopoly, and perhaps the Persians had also.

1)Our English word salary comes from the Latin salarium, which was the ration of salt given to soldiers.


Thus we have the expression, “a man is not worth his salt”

Now here is what we learn about these attacks is that the enemy is relentless

A)He doesn’t stop – always keeps coming!


B)Rocky – He keeps coming back for more!


Note that But in both cases, the letters came from

multiple parties joined together against the Jews. The ploy behind such tactics is to imply, “Everyone is against these people.”


Just look at the names and different backgrounds. If all of these men from such different backgrounds and places can agree together against these Jews, the Jews must be the problem!


Argument today toward Israel – The nations – those Jews they are the Problem.

A)Jerusalem a cup of trembling -  No oil / gold / diamonds /   Rocks


B)The City of the Messiah –


C)Same argument against the Church -

Even so today, the enemy operates by appealing to popularopinion against the Lord’s people:


 “These narrow-minded, intolerant, Bible-believing Christians are the problem. They’re like the

Taliban, trying to impose their views on everyone else!


The majority of Americans believe in God, but we don’t believe in such an intolerant, unloving God as these people do.



 We believe in the basic teachings of the Bible, but we aren’t so narrow or old fashioned as to think that it is literally true.”


So they claim to believe in God, but support “reproduction rights,” which means killing babies;


And  “celebrating diversity,” which means promoting homosexuality.


Attack at Bible following Believers -


King Artaxerxes  Response Rd v.17-24

A)The result of the opposition was that the work on God’s house ceased for 16 years.


B)Victory for the enemy


C)Haggai and Zechariah {Distracted own houses

1)Internal and External process in rebuilding – God’s work being done in us


C)Ezra: External come with reinforcements to rebuild

1)Haggai and Zech



Two things to watch out for!

(1) Give up on your spiritual goals and go back to your old  way of life.


The prophet Haggai shows that many of the Jews had gotten distracted with building their own homes and thus had neglected building the Lord’s house (Hag. 1:4).


 I’ve seen this happen over and over. Someone gets excited about serving the Lord.

They jump into their new ministry with enthusiasm. But the enemy hits them, Distracted by responsibilities


Other desires – I will get involved when I finish – never do always another project.


 (2) Settle for second best spiritually.

Some of the Jews may have thought, “Well, at least we’re out of Babylon and back in the land.


If we can’t have a temple, we’ll have to do without.” But without the temple, the Jews couldn’t worship God as they should have.


They wouldn’t have had the spiritual center for the nation.


 Some Christians try to make a new beginning with the Lord, but the enemy attacks.

They back off and decide to settle into a mediocre spiritual existence.