Viene a nosotros a pesar de que no tenemos ningún deseo de ello. No respeta la edad, raza, nacionalidad, situación económica, o género. Viene con tanta frecuencia a los seguidores de Jesús como a aquellos que profesan con orgullo que creen en nada más que en sí mismos. Puede venir de aquellos que están más cerca de nosotros, aquellos con los que trabajamos, vivir alrededor, o aquellos que son completos extraños. Puede venir como resultado de una decisión que tomamos, palabras que hablamos, un grupo con el que nos alineamos, e incluso cuando permanecemos callados y sin compromiso con ninguna causa. Cuando se trata puede sacudirnos hasta nuestro núcleo, hacer que nuestros corazones corras, dejarnos caer de rodillas, hacer que nuestras manos cuelguen cojeando, o nos mueven a gritar a Dios. Qué es?" ¿Cuál es este poder omnipresente que vaga por todo el mundo? ¿Qué es esta fuerza formidable que tiene el poder de paralizarnos? ¿Qué es este agente de agitación que posee la capacidad de robarnos la alegría y llevarnos a perder nuestra esperanza? "Es" es oposición. Usted puede haber tenido idea de lo que me refería a lo que me refería a antes de escuchar la palabra, pero una vez que lo oíste, inmediatamente podrías relacionarte con cada descripción que puse ante nosotros. Opposition is unavoidable and yet opposition can drain us and drop us into the pit of despair.

¿Conoces a Elías? El profeta de Dios experimentó una de las mayores victorias registradas en la Biblia, el enfrentamiento en el Monte Carmelo grabado en 1 Reyes 18. Aun así, en el siguiente capítulo de 1 Reyes nos enteramos de que cuando Elías oyó que la reina Jezabel había decidido matarlo, leemos,

3 Elías tuvo miedo y corrió por su vida. Cuando llegó a Berseba de Judá, dejó allí a su criado, 4 mientras que él mismo fue un día de camino en el desierto. Llegó a un enebro, se sentó debajo de ella y rogaba que le dejase morir. «He tenido suficiente, SEÑOR,» él dijo. «Toma mi vida; Yo no soy mejor que mis antepasados.» (1 Reyes 19:3-4 NIVO)

Dios levantó a Moisés para sacar a los esclavos hebreos de la esclavitud en Egipto y a la Tierra Prometida, sin embargo, Moisés pronto se enteró de que no iba a ser tan fácil. La gente era difícil de liderar, se quejaron y se alborotaron, y su descontento era evidente antes incluso de cruzar la frontera que se dirigía fuera de Egipto. En Números 11, leemos donde Dios proporcionó maná para que la gente comiera, pero querían filete mignon, nueva york tiras, y ojos de costilla! Era más de lo que Moisés podía soportar. Gritó a Dios en su desaliento.

13 Donde puedo conseguir carne para todas estas personas? Seguir llorando me, ‘ Nos dará carne para comer!’ 14 No puedo llevar todas estas personas por mí mismo; la carga es demasiado pesada para mí. 15 Si se trata de cómo vas a tratarme, me puso a la muerte ahora– Si he hallado favor a tus ojos– y no me dejes enfrentar mi propia ruina.» (Número 11:13-15 NIVO)

Oh, Podría seguir y seguir con las historias de oposición y desaliento de las páginas de la Palabra de Dios, pero vamos a llegar a nuestra historia de oposición que se encuentra en nuestra Escritura para hoy. Por favor, vuelve conmigo a Ezra 4.

1 Cuando los enemigos de Judá y Benjamín oyeron que los exiliados estaban construyendo un templo para Jehová, el Dios de Israel, 2 llegaron a Zorobabel y a las cabezas de las familias y dijo, «Permítanos ayudarle a construir porque, como tú, buscamos a su Dios y hemos estado sacrificando a él desde la época de Esarhaddon rey de Asiria, que nos trajo aquí.» 3 Pero Zerubbabel, Jeshua y el resto de los jefes de las familias de Israel respondieron, «No tienes parte con nosotros en la construcción de un templo a nuestro Dios. Sólo nosotros lo construiremos para Jehová, el Dios de Israel, como el rey Ciro, el rey de Persia, nos mandó.» 4 Entonces los pueblos a su alrededor se propusieron desalentar al pueblo de Judá y hacerles temer de seguir construyendo. 5 Contrataron consejeros para trabajar contra ellos y frustrar sus planes durante todo el reinado de Ciro rey de Persia y hasta el reinado de Darío rey de Persia. …24 Así, la obra en la casa de Dios en Jerusalén se detuvo hasta el segundo año del reinado de Darío rey de Persia. (Esdras 4:1-5; 24 NIVO)

Estoy seguro de que te diste cuenta de que nos saltamos versos 6-23. Hay una razón para eso y llegaremos a ella en un minuto, pero primero, vamos a obtener una visión general de la Escritura que acabamos de leer. Si recuerdas nuestra última mirada a Ezra, Esdras 3, entonces recordarán que la gente estaba celebrando la colocación de la fundación del templo que había sido destruido por Nabucodonosor muchos años antes. Todos celebraban excepto por la gente mayor que había visto la gloria del templo de Salomón antes de que fueran llevados de vuelta a Babilonia por los hombres de Nabucodonosor en 586 Antes de Cristo, más de 50 año anterior.

Después de que el altar se estableció en su lugar y se puso la fundación del templo, the people waited until the supplies came from the men of Sidon and Tyre who were bringing cedar logs from Lebanon. After all of the supplies arrived on site, the exiles who had returned to Jerusalem began to build. Then we read in verse 1 that when the “enemies of Benjamin and Judah heard that the exiles were building a temple for the LORD, el Dios de Israel,” they went to the leaders and said, “We want to help out.” They doubled down by letting the leaders know that they worshipped the same God as the Israelites. There was no negotiation, no “tell-me-more,” no discussion. Zorobabel, Jeshua the priest, and other heads of the families said,

3 Pero Zerubbabel, Jeshua y el resto de los jefes de las familias de Israel respondieron, «No tienes parte con nosotros en la construcción de un templo a nuestro Dios. Sólo nosotros lo construiremos para Jehová, el Dios de Israel, como el rey Ciro, el rey de Persia, nos mandó.» (Esdras 4:3 NIVO)

I’m sure some of you, most of you are probably thinking, “That’s harsh. They just wanted to help out. Why be so mean!” It does appear that way doesn’t it? You would think the more hands swinging hammers the better. There were probably some really good carpenters and craftsmen in that group that Zerubbabel and Jeshua called “enemies.” And herein lies the danger of not knowing the full story.

We get a hint as to who this crowd of willing volunteers were in verse 2 when they let Zerubbabel and Jeshua know they had been brought into the land years earlier by the king of Assyria. This hint takes us back to 721 B.C. when the Northern Kingdom of Israel fell to the Assyrians. The king of Assyria deported many of those who lived in Samaria, the capital of the Northern Kingdom of Israel, while at the same time he resettled people from Babylon, Cuthah, Avva, Hamath, and Sepharvaim in Samaria (2 Reyes 17:24). These people brought their own gods and practiced their own religions. It was not a good situation. Leemos, en 2 Reyes 17:27-29,

27 Then the king of Assyria gave this order: «Have one of the priests you took captive from Samaria go back to live there and teach the people what the god of the land requires.» 28 So one of the priests who had been exiled from Samaria came to live in Bethel and taught them how to worship the LORD. 29 Sin embargo, each national group made its own gods in the several towns where they settled, and set them up in the shrines the people of Samaria had made at the high places. (2 Reyes 17:27-29 NIVO)

They didn’t know any better to begin with, but then a man of God came for the express purpose of teaching them how to worship YHWH, he discipled them, and yet they chose to continue to worship as they wanted. We read just four verses later,

33 They worshiped the LORD, but they also served their own gods in accordance with the customs of the nations from which they had been brought. (2 Reyes 17:33 NIVO)

Sounds like life in modern-day America doesn’t it? Ellos, como nosotros, gave God a spot on the shelf right next to all of their other gods. God will not share your heart or my heart with anything or anyone else my friend.

I’ve read teachers this past week who have come down hard on Zerubbabel and Jeshua for being so narrow-minded. Before we jump to the same conclusion I’d encourage you to remember the history Zerubbabel and Jeshua were working from at this point. It was idolatry and disobedience that had landed the Jews in Babylon. God had sent His prophets to urge His people to turn away from their idolatry and serve Him with their whole hearts, pero ellos no escucharon. The price they paid was exile for more than 50 years in a strange land, away from their homeland. Now they were finally back home, given a second chance, and they wanted to serve God like they had never served Him before. They were not going to take any chances this time. They were going to dot every “i” and cross every “t.” We know this is true because we’ve already witnessed it in the first three chapters of Ezra.

And what about those who said they only wanted to help? Bien, they proved to be the greatest hindrance to the building of the temple and city walls. En Esdras 4:4-5 we learn that these same people who offered to help set out to “discourage the people” and to “make them afraid to go on building.” Let’s read these verses together.

4 Entonces los pueblos a su alrededor se propusieron desalentar al pueblo de Judá y hacerles temer de seguir construyendo. 5 Contrataron consejeros para trabajar contra ellos y frustrar sus planes durante todo el reinado de Ciro rey de Persia y hasta el reinado de Darío rey de Persia. (Esdras 4:4-5 NIVO)

The Hebrew word for “discourage” is "raphah» and it paints such a vivid picture for us of what they were doing to Zerubbabel, Jeshua, and the people. Literalmente, la palabra significa, “to weaken the hands” or “to sink, be disheartened.” Let me show you some other places in the Hebrew Bible where this same word appears. En Nehemías, Sanballat and Tobiah were troubling the workers. Nehemiah writes,

9 They were all trying to frighten us, pensamiento, «Their hands will get too weak for the work, and it will not be completed.» But I prayed, «Now strengthen my hands.» (Nehemías 6:9 NIVO)

En Isaías 35, God gave the prophet Isaiah a message to deliver to those whose hands had gone weak and limp because of discouragement. Leer conmigo de Isaías 35:3-4.

3 Fortalecer las manos débiles, constante las rodillas que dan lugar; 4 decir a los de corazón temeroso, «Ser fuerte, No temáis; su Dios vendrá, él vendrá con venganza; con retribución divina vendrá a salvarte.» (Isaías 35:3-4 NIVO)

I would say the true colors of those who said they had only come to help were showing through. They were not intending to help, their goal was to hinder the work of God, to discourage the people of God, to terrify anyone who was committed to the rebuilding of the temple. And if you will turn to Ezra 4:24 with me you will see that their plan worked. Leamos juntos.

24 Así, la obra en la casa de Dios en Jerusalén se detuvo hasta el segundo año del reinado de Darío rey de Persia. (Esdras 4:24 NIVO)

En 536 B.C. the work on the temple was stopped and the work wouldn’t resume until 520 Antes de Cristo, under the reign of Darius. It would be sixteen years before God’s people would return to doing what God had called them to do. Opposition can so easily lead to discouragement and discouragement can so easily foster apathy and lethargy. Have you ever experienced the negative effects of opposition in your own life? Has the grind of opposition in your home, with your husband, su esposa, or kids, or in the workplace with a supervisor or co-worker ever sucked the life out of you and made you want to throw in the towel?

Ahora, I want to show you that this wasn’t simply a momentary opposition, but instead it went on for years. Ezra tells us those who opposed the work hired counselors, profesionales de la, to help them out in Ezra 4:5. Léanlo conmigo.

5 Contrataron consejeros para trabajar contra ellos y frustrar sus planes durante todo el reinado de Ciro rey de Persia y hasta el reinado de Darío rey de Persia. (Esdras 4:5 NIVO)

The exiles returned to Jerusalem under King Cyrus in 536 Antes de Cristo. Darius reigned as king of Persia from 522-486 B.C. Así, just from this one verse we know the opposition applied the pressure for at least 14 años. 14 largo, discouraging, lleno de tensión, años. Pero espera, there’s more.

Recuerda esos versículos que nos hice saltar al principio? Volvamos a Ezra 4:6-23 ahora. No vamos a leer toda la sección de la Escritura, pero te daré una versión de Cliff Notes del texto. Lo que hemos estado estudiando, los judíos que llegan a Jerusalén, poniendo el altar en su lugar, poniendo los cimientos del templo, y la recolección de suministros para reconstruir el templo ha tenido lugar con un año de los judíos que regresan a Jerusalén. El año 536 B.C. fue un gran año para los judíos de vuelta en su tierra natal, but the books of Ezra and Nehemiah weren’t written until about a century later, cerca de 440 B.C. This is important to know because when we come to Ezra 4:6-23 we find Ezra taking us almost 100 years into the future to show us the persistent opposition faced by God’s people.

Versos 6-23 describes for us a series of letters written by the hired guns, political operatives of the opposition to two different kings of Persia.

Ante todo, en el versículo 6, we learn about a complaint written to King Xerxes I, who succeeded Darius on the throne. Xerxes reigned from 486-465 B.C. Entonces, en el versículo 7, we learn about another letter written to King Artaxerxes who reigned from 464-423 B.C. Así, let’s do a little math. If the opposition began in 536 B.C. and it was ongoing through Xerxes and Artaxerxes’ reigns that means that the Jews faced opposition for the better part of 100 años.

One hundred years of opposition. One hundred years of struggle. Y sin embargo,, it was not that God was inactive during that 100 años. King Xerxes was the Persian king who married a jewish girl named Esther. God used Esther to rescue the Jewish people living in the capital city of Susan when Haman had planned a holocaust of the Jewish people. How about King Artaxerxes? We will get to the book of Nehemiah in just a few weeks and we will learn that Nehemiah was the cupbearer to King Artaxerxes. It was Artaxerxes who gave Nehemiah permission to go back to Jerusalem and rebuild the walls. God is never inactive my friend. He is always working.

Let’s get back to those who were writing the letters to the kings. We learn about Bishlam, Mithredath, Tabeel and the rest of his associates who sent a letter to Artaxerxes. Rehum “the commanding officer” and Shimshai “the secretary” also wrote a letter, together with judges and officials over the men of Tripolis, Persia, Erech, Babilonia, the Elamites of Su (Esdras 4:7-9). We don’t have all of the letters they wrote, but we do have one, en los versículos 11-16. Aprendemos en verso 11 that this letter has nothing to do with the rebuilding of the temple, the temple was completed in 520 Antes de Cristo, but it has everything to do with the rebuilding of the city and the walls surrounding the city.

In the letter they have a list of accusations as to why the Jews are a threat and as to why the king must stop them immediately. Those who wrote the letters were politicians to the nth degree. En el versículo 13 they wrote,

13 Furthermore, the king should know that if this city is built and its walls are restored, no more taxes, tribute or duty will be paid, and the royal revenues will suffer. (Esdras 4:13 NIVO)

That would catch any politicians attention! They went on to call Jerusalem a “rebellious city,” “troublesome to kings and provinces,” and a “place of rebellion from ancient times.” I have to admit that learning this has provided some level of comfort to me. I was beginning to believe that our present-day politicians have reached a new low. After reading this it dawned on me that our politicians are cut from the same bolt of cloth as those in Ezra and Nehemiah’s day. With all of the accusations leveled at the exiles, who had returned to Jerusalem, is it any wonder that King Artaxerxes ordered all building on the wall and the city to stop?

Those who first read Ezra/Nehemiah were given a strong dose of reality. As they read about their ancestors coming back from Babylon, building the temple, rebuilding the city and the wall, they were reminded that there was opposition at every turn. This is not just the story of Zerubbabel, Esdras, and Nehemiahit’s the story of humanity and it’s certainly the story of the followers of Jesus.

Our Promise Keepers Men’s Bible study has been studying the book of Acts for the last several weeks. The first two chapters of Acts are unbelievable! Jesus appears to His disciples and tells them to wait in Jerusalem until the Holy Spirit comes. En Hechos 2, at the Feast of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit came, Peter preached a powerful sermon, y 3,000 people accepted Jesus as Savior. What could happen next? A world tour? Breaking ground on the Jerusalem mega-church? A tv ministry? How about opposition, Peter and John being thrown in jail, threats of death, golpes, being run out of town, y la lista continúa.

The difference between the exiles who returned to Jerusalem and the early followers of Jesus is that opposition fueled Jesus’ disciples. En Hechos 5:41-42 we read about what happened after Peter and John were beaten and threatened with death. Léanlo conmigo.

41 Los apóstoles dejaron el sanedrín, regocijándose porque había sido contados dignos de sufrir deshonra para el nombre. 42 Día tras día, en los patios del templo y de casa en casa, nunca dejaron de enseñar y proclamar la buena nueva de que Jesús es el Cristo. (Hechos 5:41-42 NIVO)

They left the Sanhedrin “rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name.” What name? The name of Jesus, the One who had suffered for them. Have you been facing opposition? They’re talking about you. Están difundiendo rumores sobre ti.? Están tratando de hacerte en, moverte fuera del camino? Mantengan los ojos en Aquel que sufrió en su nombre y observen cómo ello los fortalece para que puedan mantenerse firmes frente a la oposición. Tú y yo no podemos escapar de la oposición, pero no tenemos que permitir que nos lleve al desaliento. No es una mente sobre la ecuación de la materia. Es una solución de set-your-mind-on-Jesus. El escritor de Hebreos nos dice,

2 Fijemos la mirada en Jesús, el autor y consumador de la fe, el cual por el gozo puesto delante de él sufrió la cruz, menospreciando el oprobio, y se sentó a la diestra del trono de Dios. 3 Considerad a aquel que sufrió tal contradicción de pecadores, para que no se cansen ni pierdan el ánimo. (Hebreos 12:2-3 NIVO)

Antes de que puedas fijar tus ojos en Jesús, pero primero debes entregar tu corazón a Jesús. No esta mañana?

Mike Hays

Britton Christian Church

922 NW 91a

OKC, OK. 73114

Octubre 13, 2019

Oposición y desaliento
Esdras 4
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