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DISCERNING THE ENEMY AT WORK

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EZRA 5 AND 6
Lesson #13
DISCERNING THE ENEMY AT WORK

  • Memory Verse: Isa 54:17
  • In our previous lesson, we learned that the Samaritans weakened the hands of the Israelites and kept them from completing the building of the temple and later from rebuilding the walls of the city of Jerusalem.
    • To weaken the hands of God’s people is the subtle work of the enemy even today.
    • In Ezra chapter 5 we will see God’s response and promise that helped them overcome the enemy.
  • Read Ezra 5:1-17
    • God sent two prophets, Haggai and Zachariah
      • Haggai, the prophet
        • Read Hag 1:1-15 Consider your ways!
          • The prophet tells us that distraction from the work at hand is a method of the enemy.

The people were building and embellishing their own houses instead of building the temple.

In other words, they had their priorities wrong. The believer is to put God first in his life.

          • How can you tell if your priorities are wrong?

Haggai tells us that you will work harder and harder but you seem to get nowhere. (Hag 1:6)

The enemy is wasting away your resources and your energy is being spent with no beneficial gain.

        • Read Hag 2:1-9
      • Zechariah, the prophet
        • Read Zec 1:16-17
    • God encouraged two strong leaders by means of these two prophets:
      • Zerubbabel, the governor
      • Jeshua, the high priest
    • The enemy, a ruler of Persia and a person in high authority came to stop the construction. (3)
      • “Who hath commanded you to build this house,…?”
        • The enemy always brings doubts about the capability of your authority.
        • The enemy is of the world and does not recognize the spiritual authority that comes from God.
      • The reaction:
        • The workers did not respond because the enemy does not accept the fact that the authority from God prevails.
        • The workers did not stop the construction.
        • The workers told them the history of Solomon’s temple, its destruction, and their captivity for 70 years.
          • In other words, the claim to the land is based on Jewish inheritance andi on the promise of God.
          • The claim to the temple property is based on the fact that the Solomon’s temple was in that exact location.
          • The decree of Cyrus gave the Israelites the human authority to construct the temple.
        • The enemy does not have the authority to bring doubts or to stop the work of God when the believers know to whom they must recognize as their authority or when they know the basis of that authority.
          • The New Testament believer has the authority that comes by means of the shed blood of Jesus Christ.
          • The New Testament believer has the authority that is written in the New Covenant that is based on the better promises. (Heb 8:6)
      • The result:
        • The enemy brings the matter above the line of human authority by means of a letter to Darius, the Persian emperor that came to reign after Cyrus.
        • This process of the enemy required 7 years to move through the machinations of the government. (6-7)
      • The search:
        • Due the fact that 7 years had passed from the timei when Cyrus wrote the decree that gave permission to the Israelites to construct the temple, and because the government officials in high authority had left their positions, the current government officials had forgotten the decree.
        • The letter of the enemy requested a search for the decree because the enemy did not believe the decree existed. (17)
  • Read Ezra 6:1-22
    • The spiritual position against the actual condition:
      • The people of God were in the place where Dios wanted them. That was their spiritual position.
        • God miraculously caused Cyrus to write the decree that gave the Israelites the authority to return to thei land and to construct the temple.
        • The people of God had established the foundation of the temple and had constructed the altar of burnt offering.
      • However, the people of God were discouraged. That was their current condition.
        • The people became distracted.
        • The enemy attacked verbally and put obstacles in the way.
    • The same thing happens in the Christian life. The believer has a spiritual position with God that does not changed and is based on the approval and the love by means of Jesus Christ. But the current condition of the believer at times does not correspond to his spiritual position.
      • The believer becomes discouraged, weak, impotent, and tired, etc.
      • The believer becomes distracted by the events, the pressures, and the temptations of the world, etc.
      • That is the work of the enemy.
    • In the book of Ezra, the work of the enemy had arrived at the highest level of the Persian government, to King Darius.
      • The search for the original decree of Cyrus that the enemy said did not exist:
      • When the decree of Cyrus was found, Darius wrote this reaction to the enemy: (6-7)
        • A decree made by the Medes ad the Persians was considered as an extraordinary law and could not be changed.
        • Therefore, Darius had the obligation to give honor to the decree made by Cyrus. He affirmed the original decree and then he expanded on it.
          • The enemy must not interfere with the work.
          • The enemy must stop the collection of the taxes from the Israelites to give them more resources to finish the construction. (8)
          • The enemy must be sure that the Israelites have the resources that they need to continue the construction work and to continue the animal sacrifices to God. (9-10)
          • Any person that changes this decree or interferes with the construction will suffer severe punishment. (11)

His house will be destroyed to construct a scaffold.

The person will be hanged on the scaffold.

    • The completion and the dedication of the new temple:
      • The temple was finally finished and dedicated in the year 515 BC.
        • The decree of Cyrus was written in the year 536 BC.
        • It required 20 years for the completion of the temple construction.
        • The completion of the temple ended the 70 years of desolation caused by the Babylonian armies.
      • The dedication:
        • Notice the words of verses 16 and 17.
          • “The children of Israel”
          • “The priests and the Levites”
          • “The rest of the children of the captivity”
        • All the 12 tribes of Israel are represented here in the dedication. There are no lost tribes of Israel as some false doctrines and false religions say.
        • The burnt offering sacrifice of the dedication was done because of the sin of all the 12 tribes of Israel.
    • The feast of Passover:
      • The Israelites celebrated the Passover five weeks after the dedication of the temple.
      • The Passover is a feast in the book of Leviticus that shows the prophetic calendar for His people and His land.
        • The feast celebrates the story of the first Passover when the Israelites cameo out from the captivity in Egypt with Moses.
        • The feast celebrates prophetically in the Passover the crucifixion of Jesus Christ that died as the Lamb of God for the sins of the people.
        • The feast affirms and marks the miraculous victory of God over the enemy in all ways.
  • The application:
    • We have observed in this study that Solomon’s temple represents the perfect plan of God for the mature believer in Jesus Christ that lives in the power and authority of the Holy Spirit.
    • We have observed in this study that the temple of Zerubbabel came short of the glorious temple of Solomon in the same way that the carnal Christian comes short of the perfect will of God in his life.
    • The lesson that we must learn is to be strong and not to permit the enemy to weaken us, stop us, discourage us, or negate the authority that the believer has in Jesus Christ. We must learn how to be the overcomer in Christ where the power of the Holy Spirit brings the believer the victory.

Homework
Ezra 7 and 8

  • Application of Ezra 5 and 6
    • How much success has the enemy in defeating and discouraging you? Mark it on a scale of 1-10 (1 es low and 10 is high)
    • In what way can you use the principles of the book of Ezra to defeat the enemy in your life?
    • How can you reinforce your faith and your knowledge of your position in Jesus Christ?
  • Preparation for Ezra 7 and 8
    • Read Ezra 7 and 8.
  • Memory verse: Joel 2:26
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