Yes, through a wicked letter (filled with malice and half-truth) the enemy (mostly Samarians) was able to bring about a halt to the work of reconstructing the Jewish Temple, back in the days of Zerubbabel.
Here’s the Text: “Then sent the king an answer unto Rehum the chancellor, and to Shimshai the scribe, and to the rest of their companions that dwell in SAMARIA, and unto the rest beyond the river (the Euphrates), Peace, and at such a time. The LETTER which ye sent unto us hath been plainly read before me. And I commanded, and search hath been made, and it is found that this city (Jerusalem) of old time hath made insurrection against kings, and that rebellion and sedition have been made therein. There have been mighty kings also over Jerusalem, which have ruled over all countries beyond the river; and toll, tribute, and custom, was paid unto them. Give ye now commandment to CAUSE THESE MEN TO CEASE, and that this city be not builded, until another commandment shall be given from me. Take heed now that ye fail not to do this: why should damage grow to the hurt of the kings? Now when the copy of king Artaxerxes’ LETTER was read before Rehum, and Shimshai the scribe, and their companions, THEY WENT UP IN HASTE to Jerusalem unto the Jews, and MADE THEM CEASE BY FORCE AND POWER. Then CEASED THE WORK OF THE HOUSE OF GOD which is at Jerusalem. So it ceased unto the second year of the reign of Darius king of Persia.” Ezra 4:17-24
I hope you’ve read this sad story, completely.
God’s work … stopped!
But the heart of the Lesson this Monday morning is that last verse … “So the work ceased unto the second year of the reign of Darius king of Persia.”
It ceased, clearly … but only … “unto the second year of the reign of Darius king of Persia.”
The Jews will be back, hammers in hand!
I’ve tried to do the math here. Darius began his reign in Persia in 522 BC. That means the work resumed in 520 BC, sixteen years after it was stopped! (It was forcefully suspended in 536 BC, best I can tell.)
Sixteen years of delay!
Looks like … wasted time!
BUT STILL … THE DEVIL HERE ONLY WON A TEMPORARY VICTORY!
The Temple was ultimately built!
The Jews, under the encouragement of some godly Prophets (Haggai, for example) returned to the task at hand! To building God’s House!
Oh, what solace we might find herein!
Defeats do NOT have to be permanent!
They (in Christ) can be reversed!
In fact, our great God can … “restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten, the cankerworm, and the caterpiller, and the palmerworm.” Joel 2:25, restoring “lost” time! This must be the God of all the ages!
Isaiah tell us also that God can … “give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness.” Isaiah 61:3
Take our “ashes” and give us beauty?
Take our “sadness” (mourning) and give us joy?
Take our “pressures” (heaviness) and give us praise?
And such is called … reversing former loses!
Making defeat into merely something temporary!
Folks, indeed there is victory in Jesus!
And what Jesus did for them … He can still do for you and me!
— Dr. Mike Bagwell
Listen to our Lord talk to His Disciples in John 16:33 … “In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”
The “defeated” become “conquerors” through Christ our Lord!
Actually Paul says God can make us “more than conquerors!” Romans 8:37