When the enemies of Judah and Benjamin heard that the exiles were building a temple for the LORD, the God of Israel…
If you know the hurdles you will meet you will prepare for them. To be forewarned is to be forearmed. It is easy to surmount hurdles that you knew you will meet. In our passage today there are hurdles that were on the path to success. It is just a hurdle keep going!
After seventy years of captivity in Babylon and now under Medo-Persia, the Israelites according to the word of God were allowed to go and rebuild Jerusalem and its temple for God. After being allowed to rebuild Jerusalem, the Israelites set out to do it immediately. Our chapter today tells us of the opposition they faced in this great work. Eventually, the work succeeded but they had so many hurdles and we identify five of them today. It is just a hurdle keep going!
First, the enemies of Israel came as friends and supporters, Ezra 4:2-3. But Israel read through their fake friendship and rejected their offer. On the path to success, not every friendly person is a friend. Some are wolves in sheepskin waiting for an opportune time to pounce and destroy us. On the path to success be very keen on your friends and those who appear friendly, some are infiltrators collecting data for their spymasters who are paranoid. Those who show concern may not be concerned. Those who express care and sympathy may be the cheerleaders of those who harm you. Trust God but be slow to trust people particularly the over-friendly. When the deal is too good think twice. Be careful about friendly, caring people who emerge from nowhere, they are a hurdle to success. It is just a hurdle keep going!
Secondly, the hurdle of discouragement follows Ezra 4:4. Enemies of Israel discovered that fake friendship intended to get in and destroy Israel from within could not work. They now set out to discourage the people. Discouragement paints a hopeless future. Discouragement sees negativity only. Discouragement drains any energy left to face tomorrow. Discouragement is many times convincing reality that refuses to be optimistic or see anything positive. On the path to any success, discouragement will always show up. People will discourage us. Situations will discourage us. When discouraged do not give up. It is just a hurdle keep going!
Thirdly, Ezra 4:5, officials who are supposed to help us are bribed to work against us. The system that is supposed to support us is compromised. The people in power who are supposed to make things better, collaborate with enemies to make things worse for us. On the path to success, you will deal with a hurdle of compromised officials. Compromised leaders. Leaders who will be deliberately blind when they should help us. On the path to success, you will meet compromised leaders who will work against you for no reason at all except that they are bribed directly or indirectly. Do not fear the threatening uncooperative compromised leaders, Jesus will help you go past them on the way to success. It is just a hurdle keep going!
Fourthly, Ezra 4:6, accusations. Accusations against you will be lodged. Accusations without evidence. Baseless accusations. Accusations that are so childish that no adult worth their salt would entertain, but a whole team of supposedly mature people will entertain the accusations against you. On the path to success, you will get many real and fake accusations lodged against you. Busybodies will visit your bosses and lodge accusations against you. Incompetent bosses will entertain ridiculous accusations against you. That is how life is on the path to success. It is just a hurdle keep going!
Fifth, Ezra 4:23-24, the enemies won temporarily and the work stopped. Enemies of Israel eventually convinced the King of Persia to stop the work of rebuilding the temple. The work stopped for almost two years. One hurdle on the path to success is that enemies will succeed at some point against you. You will be on the right but you will be defeated albeit temporarily. They will be wrong, corrupt, and outright evil but God will allow them and their schemes to succeed, but for a short period of time. The success of the evil people against the righteous will embolden the evil people. They will feel invincible until God shows up even if two years later, and they will be destroyed forever in the most regrettable manner. Are you shocked that God did not rescue you from the wicked? Have the wicked succeeded in their evil schemes to your utter shock? It is just a hurdle keep going!
Hurdles will stand in our way as we serve God in government, in church, and even in private business. These hurdles can happen anywhere anytime. Any of us anywhere could be dealing with some of these. Hurdles are only on the path to success, therefore cheer up amidst shock and pain, and keep going!
Dear God, help us to keep going over the hurdles all the way to success that will glorify and honor your name, Amen!
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