The book of Ezra tells the story of the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem by the post exilic Israelites upon their return from
Babylonian captivity. The people had been instructed to build the temple by King Cyrus based on God’s command (Ezra 1:2). However,
they ceased working after only erecting a temporary altar and laying the foundation for the temple. They had become discouraged
because their effort was repeatedly belittled and discredited by opposing forces. As a result, the people doubted their ability to build a
suitable temple. In Zechariah we read that God sent the prophet to inform the Israelites that through the power of His spirit they would
build the temple (Zechariah 4:6) and to not be disillusioned by their small beginning (Zechariah 4:10). This story exemplifies how God’s
people often lose their confidence and cease working for Him because of opposition.
The Bible illustrates that opposition can come from many sources, some we least expect. For Joseph it came from his brothers who
hated him because of the position of prominence he would eventually hold (Genesis. 37:17-24). Moses encountered opposition incited
by 10 of his leaders, who proved to be fearful when it was time for the people to enter Canaan, the land God had promised to them
(Numbers 13 & 14). Nehemiah experienced opposition from a governor and other enemies when he attempted to rebuild the wall in
Jerusalem (Nehemiah 4:7-8). The disciples in Jerusalem opposed Paul when he began to preach for Christ after having spent years
persecuting Christians (Acts 9:26).
What have you ceased doing for God because of opposition? We often allow the doubt, envy, or hostility of others to prevent us from
following God’s instruction. However, as Gene Getz wrote in his commentary on the book of Nehemiah, “God’s work seldom goes
forward without opposition.” Hence, when facing our opponents, we must focus on the realization, as illustrated in the stories
mentioned above, that God never asks His children to undertake a task without providing the necessary support.
God arranged it so that Tattenai, the tax collector and one of the primary opponents of the Israelite’s rebuilding project, was
commanded to not only cease his interference but also to help fund the effort. Further he was told that failure to do so would result in
his death! (Ezra 6:6-12). God gave Joseph the ability to interpret dreams that led to his release from prison and appointment as prime
minister of Egypt (Genesis 41). God struck Moses’ opponents with a killer plague because of their lack of faith (Numbers 14:36-37).
Thus, they were not around to instigate further doubt among the people upon their second attempt to enter Canaan. After praying about
his situation, Nehemiah received a successful strategy to ward off his opponents, which entailed arming whole families to fight them
off. (Nehemiah 4:13-15). Paul received Barnabas’ public endorsement among the disciples, after which he was able to “move about
freely in Jerusalem” (Acts 9:27-28).
Paul wrote extensively about the supernatural character of ministry. He said that God uses weak individuals so that His power will
show forth. Thus, although we may be pressured, perplexed, persecuted, or struck down, just as God raised Jesus from the dead He
has the same power to work through us (2 Corinthians 4:7-15). God is not looking for the strong, smart, mighty, or rich to do his
will. Rather, He is looking for the faithful, those who will work in spite of opposition and trust Him to bring about success.
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