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Lesson #12

  • Memory Verse: Ezr 4:4
  • Read Ezr 4:1-24 The Enemies’ Tactics
    • Background:
    • Who were the people that requested they help build the temple alongside the Jews?
      • They were some original enemies of the Southern Kingdom of Judah before the Babylonian captivity.
        • Remember that before the Babylonian captivity, Israel was divided into two nations, the Northern Kingdom of Israel and the Southern Kingdom of Judah.
        • Then the Assyrians attacked the Northern Kingdom and took the Israelites captive to Babylon.
          • The practice of the Assyrian army was to displace their enemies by removing conquered people from their original land and replacing them with other conquered people.
          • Therefore, while the Jews were moved to Babylon, other conquered peoples were moved to the land of Israel.
          • The mixed multitude of people that were moved to Israel during the Babylonian captivity intermarried with the few Jews that were still in the Promised Land.
          • This mixture of descendents came to be called the Samaritans.

The Jews hated the half-breed Samaritans so much that they would inconvenience themselves to journey far out of their way so as not to set foot on Samaritan land.

      • Later in the days of the gospels, we find the Samaritans and the Jews were bitter enemies. (Joh 4) Why?
        • Read Joh 4:3-5, 7, 9-10, 19-23
        • When Israel was divided into two nations, the Northern Kingdom of Israel established their own worship around their own pagan temple.
        • They did not worship in Jerusalem in Solomon’s temple as God commanded simply because the city of Jerusalem with the temple belonged to the Southern Kingdom of Judah.
        • The Samaritans became a different culture group with different gods, a different temple, and different worship. They did not worship the God, Jehovah as the Southern Kingdom of Judah did.
    • It is the Samaritans, enemies of the Jews, that requested a part in the reconstruction of the temple. Why?
      • They believed that because they were already living in the land, they should have some authority over how things were done.
      • On the surface the request does not seem so bad, but Zerobbabel knew God’s heart and plan.
      • This request was God’s way of testing of His people returning to the Promised Land.
    • Zerobbabel, the governor and leader of the construction, denied their participation.
      • Was this a wise decision? Yes,
      • Why?
        • Zerobbabel knew that it was important to begin worship with correct doctrine. It would not please God to mix the Samaritan religion with the Jewish religion expressed in the Word of God.
        • God would not be pleased with putting other gods into the temple as they had done before the Babylonian captivity. That was why they had to suffer the Babylonian captivity.
    • Tactics of the Enemy:
      • Here in the book of Ezra we can see clearly how the enemy works to defeat God’s people.
      • The tactics of the enemy (Satan) are the same throughout the Bible and throughout Christian church history because Satan is not an original thinker.
        • =1= Attack from without
          • These attacks can involve group warfare.

When outright warfare does not work, the attempt is to become allies.

The enemy attempts to find some point of agreement in order to gain a foothold.

The Assyrians defeated Israel through warfare, but the people survived and even thrived economically in the Babylonian captivity.

Now because the Samaritans were already in the land, they should have an equal footing with the Israelites returning to the land.

          • These attacks can involve individual persecution.

Individual persecution through hatred of the Jews

Individual persecution by job restriction or the restriction of economic freedom.

        • =2= Attack from within
          • When exterior pressure does not produce the desired result, Satan always infiltrates to become one with the people on the inside.
          • These attacks come from within the group once the enemy has established a small foothold.
          • These attacks can occur within the group or within the individual.

Subtle suggestions.

In the book of Nehemiah (chapter 4), the enemy used mockery and ridicule.

These are the negative things you tell yourself or the negative things others say that you internalize.

Gradual pressure to change direction.

Attempts to influence leadership

Blatant discredit of the character of leadership

Attempts to replace leadership

          • Internal pressure is more subtle, harder to detect, and harder to fight against.
      • How do we know this is the enemy at work?
        • We can determine if it is the enemy by examining the motives, purpose, and end results.
        • The purpose is always to disrupt, to weaken, or to stop the progress of God.
        • An important note: Ecumenical efforts to bridge denominations and/or religions is always the enemy at work, when basic Biblical doctrine is in danger of being compromised.
    • When the request to become allies in the book of Ezra was denied, the Samaritans began to “weaken the hands of Israel” . (4-5) How did they weaken the hands of Israel?
      • By internal opposition.
      • By false counselors.
      • By letters of complaint to Persian government officials:
        • …that the Jews have a history of rebellion against their conquerors.
          • The enemy said that because of the Jewish history of rebellion, they probably will grow strong just to rebel again.
          • This point is true. Notice that the enemy subtly uses small points of truth to divide and defeat.
        • …that the Jews will build a strong, fortified city and stop paying tribute (taxes) to the Persian government.
          • The argument revolves around money.
          • The long term consequences to the Persian economy will be negative.
    • The success of the enemy
      • The distant Persian government believed the letters of accusation.
      • The Persian government finally ordered a stop to the construction in Israel.
  • Application:
    • How can we relate what we just learned about the tactics of the enemy to our Christian life as the temple of the Holy Spirit?
      • The inadequacies and doubts that come our way by some chance remark about our character can be stored in the inner chambers of our soul.
      • These are the things that the enemy grabs hold of and uses against us to defeat us through subtle attacks:
        • “You are a no body. You can’t accomplish that!”
        • “Remember you tried that before and failed!”
        • “You have always had this little fault in your character. It is just the way you are, the way God made you!”
        • “Why bother? No one thinks that project is important!”
        • “Isn’t it better to get along with people than to take a stand for truth when you are all alone?”
    • When the Israelites stopped building the temple, it is just like the carnal believer that ceases to grow in his relationship with Christ.
      • He has laid the foundation (which is receiving Christ) but then he permits the weeds to grow up in his character instead of building in the good things of God.
        • He does not permit the Holy Spirit to work on the inner man to remove the weeds.
        • He does not permit the Holy Spirit to feed him on the Word of God.
      • Read Rom 8:1-8
      • Truths concerning Rom 8:1-8
        • It is a choice that the believer makes whether to make decisions based on flesh or on the Spirit. (Rom 8:1, 3-5)
        • Making faith decisions gives the believer freedom from sin and death so that he walks in life and peace. (Rom 8:2,6)
        • The carnal believer stops making faith decisions in his life to walk in a worldly way. (Rom 8:5)
        • The carnal believer continues to make flesh decisions based on his desires, his lusts, his ego, etc. (Rom 8:5)
    • How bad is carnality for the believer?
      • To be carnally minded is death. (Rom 8:6)
      • What does that mean?
        • The Christian who walks in a worldly manner making flesh decisions is placing his time, money, and strength in things that one day will perish and die. He is wasting his whole life on things that do not matter eternally.
        • It does not mean the believer will lose his salvation, but he will lose his rewards. (1Cor 3:11-15)
      • The carnal believer is the enemy of God because he cannot please God. (Rom 8:7-8)
        • The carnal believer cannot walk in the Spirit as long as he is walking in the flesh. He is either walking in one or the other. He is either making faith decisions or he is making flesh decisions.
          • The things of the flesh are condemned already.
        • The carnal believer fights against God’s plan for the believer’s life.
  • Conclusion:
    • Carnality is a tool of the devil to persuade the believer into making flesh decisions.
      • The temple in the book of Ezra is the illustration of the carnal believer.
        • He lays the right foundation when he receives Jesus Christ.
        • But he does not build his life (his temple of the Holy Spirit) using God’s plan.
      • The inadequate temple in the book of Ezra fell far short of the glory of Solomon’s temple.
        • The end result of a carnal believer is a wasted life with the enemy controlling areas of his life.
        • The end result of a carnal life is a life without the spiritual presence and power of God.
    • Solomon’s temple plan is the way God wants the believer to build his life with the glorious power and presence observable in the life of the believer.


  • Application of Ezra 4
    • In considering the building of your life in Christ, which would you say your life most resembles:
      • ____The glorious temple of Solomon?
      • ____The inadequate temple in Ezra?
        • What can you do to make your life more like Solomon’s temple with the observable glory and presence of God?
  • Preparation for Ezra 5
    • Read Ezra 5
  • Memory Verse: Isa 54:17 (learn as much of this verse as you can)
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