Summarize what you read in one paragraph:
Within these chapters, the enemies of Judah and Benjamin heard that the exiles were building a temple for the Lord. The approached them, asking to build alongside them, because they also seek after God. Zerubbabel, Jeshua, and the heads of the families denied their request. So those surrounding the families of Israel decided to make it their job to discourage the people. They even went as far as hiring counselors to work against them. Throughout the next couple of chapters, we see the back and forth between king Artaxerxes and those that were set out against the people of Israel. There are letters exchanged between the men of the Trans-Euphrates and King Artaxerxes, they state that the Jews that came from Jerusalem were threatening the King’s reign and sovereignty because Israel has historically been a mighty force. The King ordered them to stop building. The Jews stopped building, but in Chapter 5, they began rebuilding with the prophets Haggai and Zechariah. The elders of the Jews continued to build the temple and the end of chapter 6 is a joyous celebration, as the Passover was restored.
What is one key verse?
Ezra 4:4 “Then the peoples around them set out to discourage the people of Judah and make them afraid to go on building.”
How does what you read change your vision of God?
This reading changed my vision of God because it is easy to think that once becoming a disciple, no harm will come near you. This chapter shows that even though they were restoring the temple of God, those that were against them seemed to overpower them. The building stopped for two years. I’m not sure about you, but two years seems like a pretty long season of waiting. God takes us through waiting seasons so that we can really establish our hearts. Once they were able to start building again, they jumped in! I know that waiting can sometimes cause bitterness or hesitation, but God isn’t making us wait to cause those things. Of course not, He never causes us to sin. These things aren’t caused by your situation, they are already inside of you. So, God uses opportunities to prune us in order to have our full hearts as we work for Him.
How does what you read change your vision of yourself or others?
Although they faced persecution and had to cease work, the people of Israel did not rebel against the king because they could not work. Nor did the people rebel against God, as we had witnessed time and time again in past chapters. This reading will help me see that even though people may have made mistakes in the past, as the Israelites did, God does not hold that against them as long as they repent and surrender to Him. I, like God, need to not hold anyone’s past wrongs against them.
How will you Go With God because of this reading? (What is an action step?
A step I will be taking, after reading these chapters, is to be present with God. Currently, the whole world is in a weird period of waiting. Things are scary, confusing, etc. I know that if I make the most of this waiting period, God will bless it. The people of Israel picked right back up and started building again after their waiting was over, I pray and hope that we all know our next steps we wish to take once God decides our waiting is over.
Where did you see Jesus in these chapters? (What made you think about Jesus?)
Jesus was not a violent man. He always responded with love… The people of Israel may not have responded in love, I was not there to be able to know. But, there is nothing stating that they fought against their oppressors. So, in their avoidance of violence, Jesus’ heart was revealed. Because like the people of Israel, Jesus faced many oppressors, but He never retaliated.