Ezra 4 is not the most straightforward chapter. We begin by being introduced to an early group of what would later become known as the Samaritans in vv.1-3. Holding somewhat of a mixed faith, shall we say (2 Kings 17.24), they wanted to join with God’s people in the building project, evidently with an ulterior motive (vv.4-5), and there was a unified ‘no’ from the community to their request (v.3).
Then, 4.8-24, is basically an overview of the problems caused by this group; how they discouraged, made them afraid, bribed, and wrote an accusation against the people (vv.4-6). This next section, 4.8-6.18 was originally written in Aramaic, most likely ‘dictated in Persian to a scribe, who translated it into Aramaic and wrote it down…’ (Enduring Word).
Mixing past failures with outright lies (v.13), the adversaries of God’s people work hard to delay the rebuilding. Sadly, their plan works (v.21, 23). But, this would only last around fifteen years, when we pick up the thread of v.5 and see that the delay lasted until the second year of the reign of Darius king of Persia (v.24).
What do we do with this then? Well, we see the purposes and plans of God for His people begin well here (ch.3), then along comes an adversary with accusations that are a mix of past failures and outright lies (v.13). The key detail left out by the accusers is that yes, these people had sinned and rebelled before, but now their work had been approved, sanctioned, ratified, and accepted by the king (1.2-4). God’s people could rightly point to this decree and say ‘See, we’re justified in what we are doing’. However, this was left out by the accusers.
The same is true for you and your life of faith in Jesus. There is one – and sometimes many – who will accuse you, who will bring up your past sins and mix them with outright lies about your current character and conduct. This one will accuse you day and night, to your own conscience, to others, and before the Lord (Revelation 12.10). Like God’s people here, this accuser will leave out the key detail in his report of you – that you are justified in the sight of the ultimate authority. Having been delivered through faith in Jesus, there is now no condemnation that can be brought against you (Romans 8.1, cf. Romans 5.1, Genesis 15.6).
That is the key detail, that is what you need to remember when accusations come that are a mix of past failings and outright lies; that you have been justified and accepted by the ultimate authority, and that even if these slanderous untruths delay something for you, they are powerless to defeat anything in you.