A handful of Jews (relatively speaking) were trying to rebuild the Jewish Temple, after seventy years of grueling captivity. Living in a “strange land” (Babylon), certainly not the Holy Land!
But opposition had risen!
From the mixed-up (ethnically and religiously and morally) people who lived in and around Jerusalem. Non-worshippers of Almighty God!
Ezra calls them “the people of the land,” as opposed to “the people of God.”
“Then the people of the land WEAKENED THE HANDS of the people of Judah, and troubled them in building, and hired counsellors against them, to frustrate their purpose, all the days of Cyrus king of Persia, even until the reign of Darius king of Persia.” Ezra 4:4-5
And this “weakening” business is still a tactic of Satan, folks!
Now, let’s look at our Verses a little more closely …
Our Text’s parallel verb (to “weakened”) is “troubled,” in Hebrew simply spelled “bahal,” meaning “to affright,” to make afraid. Literally here then are some “terrorists” at work! (I guess the Jews have faced them far longer than I ever knew!)
Then the verb “frustrate” is “parar,” meaning “to defeat,” or “to dissolve” the work teams who were building so fervently! “To break” their will to work!
In today’s language they hired (wicked) lawyers (advisers, consultants) to “sue” the builders, trying to get a “stay of construction!”
They did this for years, “all the days of Cyrus.”
Now … back to the verb “weakened.” It is “raphah” and means “to make idle.” Also “to make feeble.” Twice in the King James Version, “to faint!”
In a word, “to discourage” the working Jews … to the point of stopping the project!
The Devil hates God’s House!
Wow, what a thought this morning!
Every Christian you know is either a strengthener or a weakener of his or her brethren.
And we all know God’s Will in this area.
“Wherefore LIFT UP the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees; and make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed.” Hebrews 12:12-13
Jesus to Peter. “I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, STRENGTHEN thy brethren.” Luke 22:32
In fact, Jesus’ favorite Name for the Holy Spirit is “COMFORTER!” In English (from the Latin) it means “one who imparts strength, fortitude, bravery!”
Dear readers, in your Church or family or job environments … do not be a hinderer, rather, be a helper!
Do not pull down … lift up!
Back when Jesus was on earth, His Father woke Him and taught Him “every morning” … to encourage the “weary.” Here’s Isaiah 50: 4 telling us, via Bible prophecy … “The Lord GOD hath given me (Jesus) the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a WORD IN SEASON to him that is WEARY: He wakeneth morning by morning, He wakeneth Mine ear to hear as the learned.”
Jesus, not a “troubler” of His own followers!
But a Helper!
Go to Church Sunday and try to uplift, encourage, strengthen 2 or 3 of fellow Believers!
I close with Hebrews 3:13. Paul there succinctly says (commands really) … “But exhort one another daily.” And here “exhort” (in Greek “parakaleo”) means “to comfort, to strengthen,” definitions clearly opposite to “weakening!”
May the good Holy Spirit remind us all today (several times optimally) about these truths from Ezra 4 … about being a “helper” in the work of God.
— Dr. Mike Bagwell
By the way, Daniel 7:25 gives us (in slightly different words) this tactic of the Devil, of the anti-Christ. “And he shall speak great words against the most High, and SHALL WEAR OUT the saints of the most High.”
That about says it all!