Today’s passage: Ezra 4:7-24
- In today’s passage, local Samaritan leaders wrote an appeal to the king of Persia to stop the building of Jerusalem. He granted their appeal and ordered the reconstruction to stop.
- The basis of their appeal was to express loyalty to the king and to the Persian Empire. Because, as they wrote, they desired the success of the king and had pledged to him their loyalty, they declared it was in all their interest to put a stop to this potential threat of revolt.
- These events are not recorded in historical order. The events of chapter 5 happen before what we read today. The writer is simply informing the reader of the ways in which “the people of the land discouraged the people of Judah and made them afraid to build.” (Verse 4)
- After this decree, the rebuilding effort would be halted for about sixteen years.
Questions to consider:
- What were the deceptions and manipulations used to persuade in this letter? What information and adulation did these men include in order to convince the king to put a stop to the Jews’ building?
- What would be the differences between persuading someone to get them to do what you want and speaking the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15)? How would the words, the content, the goals, the benefactor, etc. change?
- What might the people in Jerusalem have thought and felt after receiving this decree to stop building? Had God changed His mind (Numbers 23:19)? What was God building that was more important than walls and building? How can this encourage us when we see any “set-backs” today (Philippians 1:6, Romans 8:28-30)?