"The peoples around them set out to discourage the people of Judah and make them afraid to go on building." - Ezra 4:4
The "enemies of Judah and Benjamin" had a long and complex history of opposition to God's people (see 2 Kings 17). Despite what may have seemed to be friendly overtures, it was clear to the Jewish leaders that their enemies' intention was not really to foster a good relationship with the exiles who had come back to rebuild the temple of God in Jerusalem. Instead, the enemies made every effort to frustrate the plans of rebuilding the temple and restoring community life.
The church has long taught that the world, the devil, and even our own flesh will fight against us. Even good, God-honoring decisions may not be affirmed and welcomed by the people around us. So we need to resist discouragement, temptation, and fear, and we need to focus on growing our relationship with God.
The Bible reminds us that we have a Savior who "endured . . . opposition from sinners" and that we should focus "our eyes on Jesus" so that we will "not grow weary and lose heart" (Hebrews 12:2-3).
The world may not welcome our return to Christ and our attempts to build up God's kingdom, but our Lord and Savior will always welcome us home and strengthen us to keep working.
When people around us despise and forsake us, Lord, help us to come to you in prayer. May we remember "what a friend we have in Jesus." Guide us and help us to serve you faithfully for Jesus' sake. Amen.