Just a little while ago (in Part 1), we began discussing the rather engaging book of Ezra and relating it to the hills in our lives. We are now at the point in the story when the Israelite exiles were headed home (Ezra 2-4). The 60,000 or so who decided to return to Jerusalem were backed by the Persian King Cyrus (Persia had conquered Babylon). Cyrus decreed that they should have every single thing they needed to rebuild the temple plus what had been taken from them by the notorious Nebuchadnezzar. Zerubbabel, an Israelite from the house of David, and apparently a pretty good leader, lead the exiles home. Once they got settled in the land, they immediately got busy building an altar and then built the foundation for the temple. Things were going well, until…. the haters showed up.
Even in their own homeland, the Jews still had enemies. These enemies were not native to Israel, but they offered to help build with the rebuilding of the temple mainly so they could cause drama during the process. Zerubbabel and the other Jewish leaders knew the haters didn’t value or reverence God the way they did, so they turned down the offer for help. When the haters were turned down, can you believe they even went through the trouble of hiring people to help shut the temple rebuilding down? What’s worse, can you believe it worked? Zerubbabel and the Israelites stopped working on the temple not for just a couple of weeks or months, but for 16 full years. Sixteen years were wasted because of fear and opposition. Point number 2: how many years, how many goals, how many promises, how many ideas have fear and your enemies stolen from you? Even though, the Jews had a written decree from the king, they still allowed apprehension and abhorrence to paralyze them. Our King, God the Father, has promised that if we seek Him first, He will take care of the rest (Matt. 6:33). If God places a gift, a special assignment, any type of testimony, or anything on your life, He will provide everything you need to do what it is that you and He both want you to accomplish. But once again, you have to climb the hill. You have to push past all those who said you will never be able to accomplish your feat. Push past the fear of rejection. Push past the fear of losing your 401K if you start your own business. Push past the fear of losing friends if you say no to the club and yes to mid-week Bible study. Push past the fear of losing your man if you say no to pre-marital sex. Push past the fear of losing your 6-figure income if your job calls for you do the unethical and immoral. You just have to pump your arms a little harder when the country is in a recession and you just got downsized. You can’t stay at the bottom of the hill trying to will your way to the top. That will get you nowhere fast, and like the Jews, it may even cost you another 16 years in a different type of captivity in your own land.
Thank you for taking time to check out Part 2 of “Hills Make Us Strong”! The fact that you actually read Parts 1 AND 2 mean more than you will ever know. I am immensely grateful. But for now, we will pause, allowing the conversation to “soak in” a little. Don’t worry, we aren’t stopping here. Come back soon and continue the journey as we pick up Ezra Chapters 5 – 10 in “Hills Make Us Strong: The Finale”.