Investigation, instigation, and intention

Ezra 5-6

We live to worship the Lord. This life was not intended to be a pleasure fest or even a quest for self-fulfillment, contrary to what many Christian doctrines now promote.

Even in this, however, we discover that, as we go about in service to God, we face people that just plain don’t like it. Their motives for this stance vary, along with their intensity of disdain, but it’s important to respond to this appropriately in any circumstance.

If you ask around, most people will have no issue with you if you state verbally that you’re a Christian.  “That’s cool,” they might say, until you start doing things contrary to the way the rest of the world does it and stamp the Lord’s name on it. Then people get uncomfortable and start asking questions. That’s exactly what happens in these chapters.  Consider this part two to the previous blog, if you will.

Getting crackin’, again

As predicted, the Jewish people are given the opportunity to continue restoring the old temple in Jerusalem.  They heed the prophecy of Haggai and Zechariah, remaining obedient to what the Lord has asked them to do.

Opposition returns

Of course, whenever obedience is on the agenda, the Jews face a rebuff from the surrounding provinces.  This one isn’t as vicious as the last — the local officials desire a full investigation into the matter, and write a letter to king to prompt further digging. At least Tattenai didn’t go behind their backs to do this like the previous dude did.

The Jews continue working, of course, because they have the Lord’s favor — despite any fear this might have produced, they keep it going.

The Jewish elders’ response

Rather than getting defensive, the elders simply reply that they’re servants of the Lord, explaining they were given permission by Cyrus to get the temple back in order. This is imperative to their success; they look at their records and present a case that cannot be denied.

If you look closely, they even humble themselves by explaining their reason for delay:

But because our fathers provoked the God of heaven to wrath, He gave them into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, the Chaldean, who destroyed this temple and carried the people away to Babylon.

In short, they don’t strive to look superior. Instead, they take a position of submission to their authorities, admit their mistakes, and tell the truth.

A search is completed

Once the letter reaches Darius, they conduct the search and find a scroll containing pertinent information regarding Cyrus’ decree.  Had the Jews embellished or come across as hostile regarding why they’re allowed to carry on, they would’ve been shut down immediately. Their transparency is significant here, along with their previous response of humility.

Our response to investigation

When we’re against the rails, our natural reaction is to fight back. As people of God, however, we’re called to respond  in a different manner.  Rather than appearing brutish or vindictive, we must remain calm and state the facts. In a world that’s quick to pull the trigger, it’s disarming to those who oppose us when we approach them as humble and understanding.

1) We must stay obedient to what the Lord has asked us to do.

2) We must continue in the Lord’s work, rather than fulfilling our own agenda.

3) We must humble ourselves before authority, for we recognize who’s actually in charge.

4) We must remain transparent and avoid deceiving others.

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