Oh, how shrewd the Devil is!
How “wily,” meaning “skilled at gaining an advantage, especially deceitfully.” A word that reached its peak use about a hundred years ago, and now must be defined.
And today’s Text, Ezra 4:1-3, illustrates what I mean. How the devil himself is “transformed into an angel of light.” 2 Corinthians 11:14.
Here’s our Lesson today …
“Now when the adversaries (enemies, trouble makers) of Judah and Benjamin heard that the children of the captivity builded the temple unto the LORD God of Israel; then they came to Zerubbabel, and to the chief of the fathers, and said unto them, Let us build with you: for we seek your God, as ye do; and we do sacrifice unto him since the days of Esarhaddon king of Assur, which brought us up hither. But Zerubbabel, and Jeshua, and the rest of the chief of the fathers of Israel, said unto them, Ye have nothing to do with us to build an house unto our God; but we ourselves together will build unto the LORD God of Israel, as king Cyrus the king of Persia hath commanded us.” Ezra 4:1-3
Ever heard this maxim? “If you can’t ‘lick’ them … ‘join’ them!”
That’s precisely what these enemies (“adversaries”) did in regard to the Jews who were building the Temple!
Now go back and read the Text carefully. Get the gist of the story.
These people literally “hated” the Jews … yet now they are offering to become “confederate” with them in their construction project! “Can we help you?” But they were lying in their hearts!
Listen: “Let us build with you.”
Then they prevaricate even more, say untrue things. ““For we seek your God, as ye do.” Not so. They had worshipped heathen gods for many years. (Or at least worshipped heathen gods along with Jehovah God. “Syncretism” it’s called.)
But Zerubbabel and his “cabinet” refused this (false) offer!
Listen again: “They said unto them, Ye have nothing to do with us to build an house unto our God.” The House of OUR God, see it?
Today the spirit of ecumenicity would have overruled this big NO!
“Lets lay aside our differences,” we’re being now told! Let’s not emphasize our “distinctives!” Let’s “cut corners” on any doctrine that might be offensive!
These bold men of old would have said, “NOTHING DOING!”
“Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?” 2 Corinthians 6:14
And Proverbs 22:25 tells us one of the main reasons to avoid the wicked … “Lest thou learn his ways, and get a snare to thy soul.” Wow!
Do not let the devil attack you “from within!”
Here (today’s Lesson) is an Old Testament principle that still is critically important today.
“Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.” 2 Corinthians 6 again, but verse 17 this time.
I think enough has been said.
— Dr. Mike Bagwell