We’re only in the 4th chapter of Ezra (4 of 10 chapters) and an enemy has already appeared on the horizon. (I had no idea we would be studying the “tactics” of the evil one in this little Book of Scripture!)
In fact, this is the third day of studying these dangerous “ways of the devil.”
First the adversaries of Judah (actually people of the Tribes of both Judah and Benjamin) had tried “to join” them in their work of building the Temple, rebuilding it really. (“To join” them to do them harm, to sabotage the work, no doubt.) The Jewish leaders (Zerubbabel, for example) wisely rejected this dangerous offer!
Then the enemies tried “to weaken” the resolve of the workers (yesterday’s Lesson). The devil delights in robbing us of the strength we need to serve God.
Now today, these “devils” write a letter criticizing the Jews … a letter to the King of Persia, seeking to bring a legal “halt” to the work!
Here’s our Text: “This is the copy of the letter that they sent unto him, even unto Artaxerxes the king; Thy servants the men on this side the river, and at such a time. Be it known unto the king, that the Jews which came up from thee to us are come unto Jerusalem, building the rebellious and the bad city, and have set up the walls thereof, and joined the foundations. Be it known now unto the king, that, if this city be builded, and the walls set up again, then will they not pay toll, tribute, and custom, and so thou shalt endamage the revenue of the kings. Now because we have maintenance from the king’s palace, and it was not meet for us to see the king’s dishonour, therefore have we sent and certified the king; that search may be made in the book of the records of thy fathers: so shalt thou find in the book of the records, and know that this city is a rebellious city, and hurtful unto kings and provinces, and that they have moved sedition within the same of old time: for which cause was this city destroyed. We certify the king that, if this city be builded again, and the walls thereof set up, by this means thou shalt have no portion on this side the river.” Ezra 4:11-16
Really, lie after lie!
Or at best, the truth s-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-d beyond one’s wildest imagination! A perversion of history! (It is called “revisionism” and is being practiced in modern America every day! For example our “heroes” of the past being recast into “villains!”)
But so fights the enemy!
They (in the letter) called Jerusalem a “bad city!”
Further calling them “tax evaders!”
Insinuating they are “enemies” of the government, of Persian rule!
Lies, again I affirm!
But they were HEARD by the ears of those in authority!
What a practical point today … BE CAREFUL LITTLE TONGUE WHAT YOU SAY! Or better yet in this case: BE CAREFUL LITTLE FINGERS WHAT YOU WRITE!
Proverbs 18:21 still says (truthfully) … “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.”
Satan and his crowd have always been pretty good with their tongues!
Jesus labeled them and their ilk correctly: “Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is NO TRUTH in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for HE IS A LIAR, and the father of it.” John 8:44
I close (with a bit of self-reflection and trepidation) with these words from Paul: “Speak the truth in love.” Ephesians 4:15
Someone once even defined slander (for the Christian anyway) as … “Sometimes even telling the truth WITH THE DESIGN OF HURTING ANOTHER PERSON!”
— Dr. Mike Bagwell
The wicked, Psalm 64:3 says … “Whet their tongue like a sword, and bend their bows to shoot their arrows, even bitter words.”
I want to live a godly life, giving my whole body to God … including my tongue!