Then the peoples around them set out to discourage the people of Judah and make them afraid to go on building. (Ezra 4:4)

THE APPROACHING ENEMY surrounded Elisha and his servant, but the prophet seemed unafraid. As soon as he saw the fear in the servant, he prayed a special prayer asking God to help his friend not to be afraid. God opened the servant’s eyes to the spiritual forces that surrounded them (see 2 Kings 6:15–17).

The Jews feared those around them, but it did not discourage or stop them from building the altar and making their burnt offerings (see Ezra 3:3). After laying the temple foundation, enemies asked to help in the rebuilding process; possibly sensing a bad motive, the Hebrews rejected the offer. These enemies then went a step further, making a more direct attack by trying to discourage the builders. However, God’s people did not stop rebuilding until they were later forced to do so by the king (see Ezra 4:18–23).

Like the Jews, Christians often face daily opposition to what God has asked of us. We are threatened with the possibility of laws that limit the pastor’s sermon topics, permit the taking of unborn children, and treat marriage as if no longer sacred. But even so, let us uphold God-given principles with the determination of the returned exiles and with assurance of God’s presence as in the prophet’s story. Let us remember that even though the Jews had setbacks, the temple was eventually built!

Do not fear because God is always near.

 Edwin Wiles is a retired science instructor from Kernersville Wesleyan and Surry Community Colleges. He enjoys his wife and family, reading, photography, gardening, and his church family.

© 2018 Wesleyan Publishing House. Reprinted from Light from the Word. Used by permission.