The fourth chapter of Ezra tells us how the enemies of God forced God's people to stop building the Temple. According to verses 4 and 5, the enemy made life difficult for the Jews and pestered them with actions intended to frustrate the plan to build the Temple. This slowed down the work so that it was not completed during the reign of Cyrus or that of his successor, Ahasuerus, or even of his successor, Artaxerxes.
When Artaxerxes came to the throne, the enemies of God realized that they finally had a ruler that they could influence to force the Jews to comply with their wishes. They wrote a letter to Artaxerxes, and he ordered the building to be stopped. Verse 23 tells us that the enemies of God then hastened to Jerusalem to make the Jews stop "by force and power."
This is the way that the enemies of God work in every political climate. They do whatever they can to frustrate and slow down the work of God until they can get a political leader in power who will force their will upon the nation. They have no hope of winning by any means other than forced compliance.
The fifth and sixth chapters of Ezra give a contrast to the method adopted by the enemies of God. In these chapters, we read that Haggai and Zechariah convinced the Jews to break the law in order to obey God and continue building the Temple. Then, when the enemies of God demanded that they stop and demanded a list of names of everyone involved, the Jews just ignored them. God's enemies then wrote to Darius, the new king, and asked him to intervene and make the Jews stop. Darius, however, discovered that his father-in-law had been in favor of building the Temple, and instead of ordering the work to cease, Darius ordered the enemies of God to pay all the cost of finishing the project.
The contrast here is remarkable. God's enemies gained a victory by using the influence of political power to force their will on the people. God's people, on the other hand, decided to simply do what was right regardless of opposition and left the results to God. Furthermore, we read in the first chapter of Haggai that when the people stopped doing the work of God, their economy collapsed, and when they returned to the work in spite of the opposition, God caused their economy to prosper.
These observations give us many things to consider in America today. For example, we are often told that local and state governments cannot declare abortion to be illegal until after we have a Supreme Court which agrees with us and will force our position on the people. Does this advice sound more like the strategy adopted by the enemies of God in the fourth chapter of Ezra or the strategy employed by God's servants in the fifth and sixth chapters?
We are told that we need to elect a President who will stand up to the opposition and force them to do what we want, and we are told that without such a champion in the highest office of the land, we will be unable to accomplish the things that God wants us to accomplish. Is this the path that God prescribed for His people in the book of Ezra? Did God tell them that they could only accomplish His work if they had a king who approved of it? Or did He wait until they returned to the work before He raised up a king to defend them?
We are told that we have to fix the economy and provide for our national security before we concern ourselves with social issues like abortion and homosexuality, but is that what we see in the book of Haggai? Did God tell His people to fix their failing economy so that they could afford to build the Temple, or did He command them to accomplish His work first and let Him worry about the economy?
As we look toward the future of our nation, it is imperative that we remember the difference between the strategy employed by God's enemies and the strategy which was employed by God's people and blessed by God. I'm not saying that we shouldn't elect Christians: far from it. What I am saying is that, if we obey God and do His work, then we will have no need to fear the enemy regardless of who may rise to political power. When God's people follow Him, they prosper regardless of the strength of the opposition against them. But when God's people do not follow Him, no amount of effort on their part will ever be blessed with success.
Which strategy are you employing in this election? Are you voting for a strong man to force your views upon the nation? Or are you voting for a man who meets God's qualifications for political office? Are you voting for a Supreme Court that will hand down rulings in your favor? Or are you voting according to God's instructions with the determination that you will fight against the evils of our society whether it's legal to do so or not? Are you setting aside moral values in order to fix the economy and strengthen national security? Or are you voting for a moral leader and leaving the economy and our security in the hands of God? Which strategy do you think God is more likely to bless?
Bill Fortenberry is a Christian philosopher and historian in Birmingham, AL. Bill's work has been cited in several legal journals, and he has appeared as a guest on shows including The Dr. Gina Show, The Michael Hart Show, and Real Science Radio.
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