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Ezra 4

The Problem of Greed

<p>We are to care for our brothers and sisters in the Lord. No man is an island (Romans 14:7). We are to bear one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:2). Certainly, we are not to take financial advantage of other in their times of need.</p>

The Call to Renew Construction

<p>The work on the temple has stopped because of opposition. However, even when the opposition has died down, the people do not get back to God’s house. They are concerned about building their own houses, working their own fields, taking care of their own stomachs. But things are not going well. It seems that no one can get ahead. Now comes two prophets of God: Haggai and Zechariah. They point out the real problem: they left the work of the Lord to feed themselves. Therefore, God has not blessed them. The answer is to return to the original work to which they were called: the rebuilding of the temple. The people hear the words of the prophets and they respond. The work on the temple resumes.</p>

The Beginning of the Temple

<p>The Jews have left the only stability they have known and have made the long and hard trip to Israel. But their work has only begun. Now they must rebuild. They begin in the right place restoring the ancient altar and begin work on the foundation of the temple. But opposition comes quickly. First, in the form of compromisers who want to join them for the purpose of defeating their purpose and zeal. Second, in the form of hired counselors who work to “frustrate their purpose.” For now, the adversaries win and the Jews cease work on the temple. The opposition has been too much for them. The temple lies abandoned.</p>

Captivity of the Jewish People

<p>The story follows Israel as a nation. However, the nation can be used as a type of an individual. As in the case with Israel, an individual can receive the word of God, become a child of God, and then rebel against His commandments. An individual can reject God’s judgment against their sin and make things even worse. Hebrews 12:5-11 can help you make this comparison. Follow the story of the rebellion and punishment of the nation of Israel as if they represented one person.</p>