Whenever we try to do something for the Lord in His power, we know the enemy hates that and will do all he can to thwart the growth of the Kingdom of God. We see four of his tactics today in Ezra 4.
False help v1-2
Adverseries come to offer help, claiming to worship “your God as you do”. The very word “your” is telling. The Lord is not their God, they don’t really know Him. They sacrifice without a priesthood or in the Temple/Tabernacle, so they are not doing it God’s way.
The priests and elders seem to be pretty discerning and grasp that straight away, refusing help.
One commentator notes that this is the enemy’s most dangerous trick – to lure us into compromise under the guise of co-operation.
Sometimes wolves in sheeps clothing are pretty subtle and you have to probe a little if you get the “eeby-geebies”. Often the JWs and Mormons will start sharing or talking and seem bang on. Until you probe and discover they don’t really believe that Jesus is God, just a god and that salvation is by works not grace!
The people of the land are the Samaritans, those from Israel who had stayed behind during the exile and intermarried and morphed Judaism into a messy mix of religiousity.
Discouragement is a huge enemy tactic and an easy won to score points with. The word used here for “discourage” literally means to weaken the hands. We are so easily discouraged
The adverseries also instilled fear in the people. Discouragement quickly turns into fear and especially fear of the future. In this Covid-19 pandemic – that kind of fear is rife over health, jobs, paying the rent and mortgages.
Next theopposition start spreading rumours, half-truths and gossip about the leaders to undermine them. The gist of the it was that if the temple gets built, the Jews will stop paying taxes. That gets most politicians attention quickly. The opponents claim to be loyal to Artaxerxes with a reference to eating the salt of the palace. Previous empires like the Egyptians had made salt a monopoly and perhaps this is true fo the Persians too. The English word “Salary’ comes from the Latin word salarium – the salt ration given to Roman soldiers and leads to expressions like he is not worth his salt!
Enemy coalitions v7
A group of opponents come together – “everyone is saying” comes to mind. When someone says that I ask – who? I have never got past three fingers!
How do we resist all this.
Firstly we know our enemy (2 Cor 2:11) – those were five tactics he uses
Next we apply James 4:7 – we submit to and draw near to Jesus – make him our focus and in doing so gain strength to resist the devil.
The Start Trek enemy Borg may claim “Resistance is futile” but with Christ, resistance is easy, the devil will flee as we focus on Jesus.