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Communion Presbyterian Church ARP

The Opposition is Always Organized - Ezra 4

KNOCK KNOCK

 

"Do you have a regular weekly meeting in your home?

Do you sing?

Do you say 'amen'?"

Do you say, 'Praise the Lord'?"

 

San Diego pastor and his wife claim they were interrogated by a county official and warned they will face escalating fines if they continue to hold "religious assemblies" in their home without obtaining a Major Use Permit from the county -- a permit that involves traffic and environmental studies, compliance with parking and sidewalk regulations, and may cost them thousands of dollars. If they fail to pay for the MUP, the county official reportedly warned, the couple will be charged escalating fines beginning at $100, then $200, $500, $1000, "and then it will get ugly."

 

This account reported by WND: http://www.wnd.com/index.php?fa=PAGE.view&pageId=98895

 

Now as Americans, we immediately think of our First Amendment rights:  the freedom to peaceably assemble, and that we are protected from government prohibiting the free exercise of religion.  That is of course, your car bumper is suspended over a public sidewalk – then my friend; you forfeit these lofty freedoms!

 

What is laughable is that this Home Bible study is comprised of about 15 participants.

 

The report did not indicate this, but is seems to me that some neighbor got a little snitchy.  Someone must have contacted the officials because of some concern about the Bible Study group.  I don’t know if they are a loud group or they all drive SUV’s but if they are just plain decent folks – what is the problem?

 

Well I’ll tell you the problem, as a pastor who leads two very strategic home Bible studies, I will tell you very plainly that these studies are essentially training camps!  We are training people to be disciples of Jesus, and with the influence of Jesus’ Spirit and teachings, we are attempting to CHANGE THE ENTIRE WORLD!  Yes we can!  We gather first to acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord of our life and this entire earth, and we pray for each other to always trust in Jesus, and then we read words in the Bible like this:

 

For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. 19 Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. 20 But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself. Phil . 3

 

Now that’s extreme language isn’t it?  If you are not a Christian, what are you?  An ENEMY of the cross, and your end is DESTRUCTION!  As an unbeliever, is it comforting to know that Christians consider you an enemy and bound for destruction?  Is it reassuring to know that the Christians don’t even consider their citizenship to be here on earth; but in heaven?  Is it comforting to know that Christians believe that some alien is going to come out of heaven and transform our bodies?

 

OK, I’m trying to be a little provocative; but I understand why those who live only for this life are interested in distracting, intimidating, frustrating, humiliating, and restricting the efforts of Christians.  Christians are implementing a global campaign to persuade people to worship and obey Jesus as Lord – AND that’s a bit threatening if you don’t want to do it!

 

This story of this San Diego pastor and the global objective of the church is a perfect backdrop for what we encounter in Ezra 4.  The neighbors of Israel know what the Jewish scriptures say – filled with commandments and prophecies for control over everyone in their land, they know the history of Israel and their former days of rule and domination; and here they come again, returning to their favored city and with plans to build the temple to the God who demands total allegiance, and destruction of foreign gods.

 

These neighbors don’t like any of this.  So what do good neighbors do in a situation like this?  The snitch to the guvment! [4 fold plan of opposition]

 

Ezra 4:1 Now when the adversaries of Judah and Benjamin heard that the returned exiles were building a temple to the LORD, the God of Israel, 2 they approached Zerubbabel and the heads of fathers' houses and said to them, "Let us build with you, for we worship your God as you do, and we have been sacrificing to him ever since the days of Esarhaddon king of Assyria who brought us here."

 

2 – 2 kings 19.20ff Is. 37:33ff Essarhadon

2 Kings 17:33 So they feared the LORD but also served their own gods, after the manner of the nations from among whom they had been carried away.:34 To this day they do according to the former manner. They do not fear the LORD, and they do not follow the statutes or the rules or the law or the commandment that the LORD commanded the children of Jacob, whom he named Israel.

 

3 But Zerubbabel, Jeshua, and the rest of the heads of fathers' houses in Israel said to them, "You have nothing to do with us in building a house to our God; but we alone will build to the LORD, the God of Israel, as King Cyrus the king of Persia has commanded us."

 

4 Then the people of the land discouraged the people of Judah and made them afraid to build 5 and bribed counselors against them to frustrate their purpose, all the days of Cyrus king of Persia, even until the reign of Darius king of Persia. à temple finally built under Darius à Telescoping correspondence…

 

6 And in the reign of Ahasuerus (KING OF ESTHER = XERXES), in the beginning of his reign, they wrote an accusation against the inhabitants of Judah and Jerusalem.

 

7 In the days of Artaxerxes, Bishlam and Mithredath and Tabeel and the rest of their associates wrote to Artaxerxes king of Persia. The letter was written in Aramaic and translated.

 

(ARAMAIC to 6:18) 8 Rehum the commander and Shimshai the scribe wrote a letter against Jerusalem to Artaxerxes the king as follows: 9 Rehum the commander, Shimshai the scribe, and the rest of their associates, the judges, the governors, the officials, the Persians, the men of Erech, the Babylonians, the men of Susa, that is, the Elamites, 10 and the rest of the nations whom the great and noble Osnappar deported and settled in the cities of Samaria and in the rest of the province Beyond the River.

 

11 (This is a copy of the letter that they sent.) "To Artaxerxes the king: Your servants, the men of the province Beyond the River, send greeting. And now 12 be it known to the king that the Jews who came up from you to us have gone to Jerusalem. They are rebuilding that rebellious and wicked city. They are finishing the walls and repairing the foundations. 13 Now be it known to the king that if this city is rebuilt and the walls finished, they will not pay tribute, custom, or toll, and the royal revenue will be impaired. 14 Now, because we eat the salt of the palace and it is not fitting for us to witness the king's dishonor, therefore we send and inform the king, 15 in order that search may be made in the book of the records of your fathers. You will find in the book of the records and learn that this city is a rebellious city, hurtful to kings and provinces, and that sedition was stirred up in it from of old. That was why this city was laid waste. 16 We make known to the king that if this city is rebuilt and its walls finished, you will then have no possession in the province Beyond the River."

 

17 The king sent an answer: "To Rehum the commander and Shimshai the scribe and the rest of their associates who live in Samaria and in the rest of the province Beyond the River, greeting. And now 18 the letter that you sent to us has been plainly read before me. 19 And I made a decree, and search has been made, and it has been found that this city from of old has risen against kings, and that rebellion and sedition have been made in it. 20 And mighty kings have been over Jerusalem, who ruled over the whole province Beyond the River, to whom tribute, custom, and toll were paid. 21 Therefore make a decree that these men be made to cease, and that this city be not rebuilt, until a decree is made by me. 22 And take care not to be slack in this matter. Why should damage grow to the hurt of the king?" 23 Then, when the copy of King Artaxerxes' letter was read before Rehum and Shimshai the scribe and their associates, they went in haste to the Jews at Jerusalem and by force and power made them cease.

 

24 Then the work on the house of God that is in Jerusalem stopped, and it ceased until the second year of the reign of Darius king of Persia.

 

Ploy # 1 = We want to help! (What would you like from us?)

 

# 2 = Discouragement (opposite of encouragement) FEAR

 

# 3 = Bribe

 

# 4 = Undermine and threaten through authority

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