Facing Opposition

Scripture: Ezra 5:5, Ezra 4:1-5, 2 Corinthians 6:14
Date: 10/26/2019 
Lesson: 4
'When opposition gets in the way of doing what we believe God calls us to do, we have the tendency to question and doubt God’s guidance. We can easily convince ourselves that we made a mistake. Fear can paralyze our minds, and our thoughts turn to despair and helplessness instead of being focused on the power of God.'
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Jean Ross: Good morning, friends. Welcome again to "Sabbath School Study Hour" here at the Granite Bay Seventh Day Adventist Church in Sacramento, California. We'd like to welcome our online members who are tuned in to study our lesson with us, also our friends who are joining us across the country and around the world. And also our regular Sabbath School members and our visitors who are here in person, very warm welcome to all of you. I'm glad that you have chosen to study the lesson with us today. And of course, we started a new lesson dealing with two Old Testament prophetic books called Ezra and Nehemiah. And that of course is the title of our new quarterly. Today, we find ourselves on lesson number four in the study called "Facing Opposition." So, if you have your lesson quarterly with you, you can turn to lesson number four, "Facing Opposition." For our friends who are joining us online, if you don't have a copy of today's lesson, you can download one at lesson.aftv.org. Again, that's lesson.aftv.org, lesson number four called "Facing Opposition," and you can study along with us.

We also have a free offer we'd like to let you know about, it's a book written by Pastor Doug, it's entitled "Compromise, Conformity, and Courage." This is our free offer today. And if you'd like to receive it, the number to call is... and ask for offer number 774. We'll be happy to send this out to anyone who calls and asks. You can also download a copy of our free offer today by texting the code SH019 to the number 40544. You will then get a link and you just click on that link and you'll be able to download the book "Compromise, Conformity, and Courage." And I think you'll find it an encouragement to read this book and look at the various Scriptures contained in it. It'll encourage you in your Christian walk. Well, before we get to our lesson this morning, we always like to be in our Sabbath school time with song, and so I'd like to invite our song leaders to come out.

male: We'll be singing this morning number 577 in the Seventh Day Adventist Hymnal, and it's "In the Heart of Jesus." We'll sing all four verses.

♪ In the heart of Jesus,

there is love for you. ♪

♪ Love most pure and tender,

love most deep and true. ♪

♪ Why should you be lonely,

why for friendship sigh, ♪

♪ when the heart of

Jesus has a full supply? ♪

♪ In the mind of Jesus,

there is thought for you, ♪

♪ warm as summer sunshine,

sweet as morning dew. ♪

♪ Why should you be fearful,

why take anxious thought ♪

♪ since the mind of Jesus

cares for those He bought? ♪

♪ In the field of Jesus, there

is work for you ♪

♪ such as even angels might

rejoice to do. ♪

♪ Why stand idly sighing

for some lifework grand, ♪

♪ while the field of Jesus

seeks your reaping hand? ♪

♪ In the home of Jesus,

there's a place for you. ♪

♪ Glorious, bright, and joyous,

calm and peaceful too. ♪

♪ Why then, like a wanderer,

roam with weary pace ♪

♪ if the home of Jesus holds

for you a place? ♪♪

Jean: Dear Father in heaven, we thank You once again that we have this opportunity to gather in Your house on this, this beautiful Sabbath that You've given us to open up Your Word and study. And so, Father, we ask for the Holy Spirit to be with us, to guide our hearts and our minds, and guide us as we need to look into a very important subject this morning. So, we pray for Your blessing in Jesus's name, amen. Our lesson this morning is going to be brought to us by Pastor Doug.

Doug Batchelor: Good to see each of you. Feels like I've been gone, I think it's because I have. And it's good to be back, be able to study God's Word. Want to welcome our friends who are studying with us, via either the internet, or you're watching on satellite, or maybe some programs that are archived. I'm glad that you could study His Word with us. Our lesson today is from chapter four in this, our study of Ezra and Nehemiah. And it's dealing with facing opposition. You ever run into any opposition when you tried to do God's work? It won't be the first time, biblically. And we have a memory verse, memory verse is from Ezra 5:5. If you have your Bibles, you might turn and look at that with me. We invite you to say that it loud. Ezra 5:5, and this is in the New King James version, you ready? "But the eye of their God was upon the elders of the Jews so that they could not make them cease till a report could go to Darius. Then a written answer was returned concerning this matter." So, they were doing all they could to try to stop and to block the work of the Lord in sharing the gospel and in building up the city and the walls.

Now, the time of Ezra is a very interesting time historically. You've heard of Buddhism? Ezra lived during the time of Buddha. You've heard of Confucius? Ezra lived during the time of Confucius. Of course, they're not in the same place. And in Greece, you had a famous philosopher by the name of Socrates. So, all around the world during this time, some very powerful religions were being born, or ways of thought. And Ezra in many ways is responsible for helping to organize the books of the Old Testament the way that we have them now. He was a scribe trained in the law. He understood what happened in Babylon, Persia, and of course Israel. And so, the period of time we're talking about in this study on Ezra, it's a pretty good span.

First you've got during the time of--well, Daniel's carried away captive about 70 years later with the handwriting on the wall. Babylon falls, the Persians come into power. Cyrus the Persian, he ends up giving the people permission to move back home, the Jews are allowed to go back home. And then there's a pilgrimage of Jews that go during the time of Zerubbabel. And then from that time until Ezra, about 50 years go by, but Ezra covers that history. And you can read here, you know, in Ezra chapter 1, he talks about the group that comes back during the captivity and worship is restored in chapter 3.

Now, we're beginning in chapter 4. And it says resistance to building the temple. "Now, when the adversaries of Judah and Benjamin heard that the descendants of the captivity were building the temple of the Lord." What came first, let me just ask you, building the temple or building the walls? Temple came first. First you think, "Whoa, wouldn't you want to first put walls up?" And no, they thought the worship of God needed to be first. Seek ye first the kingdom of God, so they started with the temple. "Now, when the adversaries of Judah and Benjamin."

Why does he say Judah and Benjamin? How many tribes came back from--originally, how many tribes of Israel were there? Let me ask the question that way. I hear 12. Technically, 13. Now, I know we always say Jacob had 12 sons, but what he did is because Joseph was sold by his brothers, Jacob said, "I'm going to count Ephraim and Manasseh as two of my sons. They'll get an equal share." So, Ephraim and Manasseh were counted, and you say, "Well, why does it still call it the 12 tribes?" Because when they divided the Promised Land, the Levites did not get an inheritance, they were the priest for everybody. So, they have the 12 tribes and Levi. So, when ten of the tribes are carried off by the Assyrians, they don't really come back the same way as the tribes of Judah, Benjamin, and the Levites. They were in the southern kingdom. So, "The adversaries heard that the people of Benjamin and Judai--Judah and of the captivity were building the temple of the Lord God of Israel. They came to Zerubbabel and the heads of the father's house and they said, 'Let us build with you, for we seek your God as you do. And we have sacrificed to Him since the days of Esarhaddon, king of Assyria, who brought us here.'

But Zerubbabel and Jeshua and the rest of the heads of the father's house of Israel said, 'You may do nothing with us to build a house for our God, but we alone will build the Lord--to the Lord God of Israel, as King Cyrus the king of Persia has commanded us.' Then the people of the land tried to discourage the people of Judah." When you make overtures to someone to help them and they tell you no, instead of going your merry way, you may be more angry than if you had never offered your help. Look how quickly Potiphar's wife goes from loving Joseph and wanting to sleep with Joseph to turning Joseph in and falsely accusing him. When you offer yourself to someone and they spurn that offer, it may turn from love to hate. And they all of a sudden went from, "Hey, let's all work together," to, "We're going to stop the work altogether." Which kind of tells you maybe they made the right decision. Their hearts were not in it if they were so willing to stop it. "Then the people of the land," talking about the people that lived up in the north, the Samaritans and the Arabs, "they tried to discourage the people of Judah. And they troubled them in building, and they hired counselors against them to frustrate their purpose all the days of Cyrus king of Persia, even until the reign of Darius king of Persia."

This is another Darius now. I've just got to say something here, and I hope it doesn't confuse you a little bit, but the book of Ezra is written chronologically. Yeah, he's a very meticulous scribe, he's kind of giving the order of events that happened. Sometimes, it looks like he's hopping around 'cause these kings seem to appear long distances apart. Several of the kings have the same names. When I say Caesar, who are you thinking of? But what about Augustus Caesar? What about Nero Caesar? A lot of people called themselves Caesars. You know why you've got the czar of Russia? Do you know how you say Caesar in Russian? Czar. Do you know you had Kaiser Wilhelm? You know how you say Caesar in German? Kaiser. So, they're all--the term "Caesar," so often when people say Caesar, they think of Julius Caesar because he was born via caesarian, which is where the word originated.

When you're reading in the Bible about the Philistines, you'll find that it tells us Isaac told Abimelech, the Philistine king, that Rebekah was just his sister. Years later, David is scrabbling on the doors of Abimelech, the Philistine king. Now, that guy must've lived 400 years. No, Abimelech was a very common name among the Philistine kings. Some of their names almost meant king, and so it was used interchangeably. You're going to find that with some of the kings of Persia, and that's caused no small amount of confusion about who was the king. There was more one king by the name of Darius, and there was one--more than one Artaxerxes.

So, you're going to find when you're in--for instance, if you look in Ezra chapter 4, verse 11, King Artaxerxes stops the building. Well, then you get to Ezra chapter 7, Artaxerxes is the one who gives the decree to rebuild. Well, you think, "Will he make up his mind?" They're two different characters. And so, there was one guy who is Smerdis, he was a magician, he briefly inserted himself, he's called the false king. He put himself and he was also called Artaxerxes. He's the one that stopped the building. So, I just wanted to let you know that it's caused some confusion 'cause these guys had the same names and--but they're really different. And you've got quite a period of time going between when the first captives came back and when Ezra comes in person. He's just giving the history up until his coming. And then Nehemiah comes about 15 or 16 years after Ezra, but Ezra and Nehemiah did know each other.

All right, now are you thoroughly confused? Okay. If you are, don't look it. Look like, "Got it, I understand." All right, so they're wanting to build up the temple and there's great opposition. Does God still have a temple on earth today? Don't you know, first of all, your body's the temple of the Holy Spirit? And the Bible tells us that we, His church, are living in stones built up on the cornerstone of Jesus and the apostles to a holy habitation to God. That wicked one, the antichrist, would sit in the temple of God showing himself that he is God. Is that a physical temple or is he putting himself over the church?

A lot of people are waiting for the antichrist to build a temple and rebuild another temple. The antichrist, John said, "There are even many antichrists now," back in the New Testament. When any false person puts himself over the church, over the temple--so, God is a temple. Jesus said, "Destroy this temple made with hands, and in three days I'll make one without hands." What was He talking about? Said His body. The church is called what? The body of Christ. So, does God still have a temple? And as we're seeking to build up the temple of God, what will the devil do? He'll try to stop it one of two ways. One way he tries to stop it is to join it. You notice what they said here first? They said, "Let us help you build. Let's all work together." And they knew what they were up to, that the devil was going to try to destroy this revival through compromise.

Now, let me see if I could prove that to you. If you look, for instance, in 2 Kings chapter 17, says now after the ten tribes were carried away by the king of Assyria to the north, it says, "Then when the king of Assyria brought the people from Babylon, Kuthah, Ayva, Hamath and Sepharvaim, and he placed them in the cities of Samaria instead of the children of Israel." So, when the ten tribes were carried away, the king of Syria, he transplanted Assyrians back down in that area of Samaria. They later became known as what? Samaritans, who did not worship the same way as the Jews, and they hated each other. Do you want to know why the Jews and the Samaritans hated each other so much? It goes back to Ezra and Nehemiah.

So, the king of Assyria, he transplanted some Assyrians. There may have been some Jews among them, but they're principally Assyrians back in the area of the ten tribes, and they got attacked by lions. I'm getting ahead, let me read it. "They took possession of the cities of Samaria and they dwelt in its cities. And it was so, at the beginning of their dwelling there, they did not fear the Lord, therefore the Lord sent lions among them, which killed some of them. So, then the king of Assyria commanded, 'Send there one of the priests who you brought from there, and let him go and dwell them, and let him teach the rituals of the--of the God of the land.'"

Now, when it says send one of the priests, the ten tribes in the north that were carried to Assyria, did they have the same priesthood as the tribes in the south? No, there was a bad king, that Jeroboam, he made priests of anybody. And they started worshipping golden calves. And they understood the commandments of the Lord, so they kind of commingled paganism with true worship. So, now they send one of these kind of half priests or self-made priests down to teach the Assyrians who Jehovah is. So, they did learn some things, but they weren't pure priests. "Let him dwell there, let him teach the rituals of the God of the land. Then one of the priests who they carried away from Samaria," not from Jerusalem, "came and dwelled in Bethel," that's where they had a golden calf. "And taught them how to fear the Lord. However, every nation continued to make gods of its own and put in them shrines," idolatry, "in the high places which the Samaritans had made. So, they feared the Lord, yet they served their own gods."

Now, I've got that underlined. That sums up a lot of Christians too. They fear the Lord, yet they serve their own gods. Kind of let's see if we can commingle the world and the church. "According to the rituals of the nations from whom they were carried away." They were bringing in the other nations' worship into their worship. "To this day, they continue practicing the former rituals." So, when they come to Ezra and Nehemiah, they say, "Hey, praise the Lord, you can build the temple. Let's all work together." Can you understand why Zerubbabel and those with him said, "No, that's not going to happen. We know you're going to get us to start compromising worship. And the reason we got carried off to Babylon is because we compromised"? The reason that in the book of Judges, they kept having trouble is because they compromised. We're not going to do it. They said, "Oh, so you want to be that way? Well, we're going to stop you from building altogether."

This animosity between the southern kingdom, the Jews, Benjamin, the Levites, and the Samaritans went all the way down to the time of Jesus, where you've got a woman at the well saying to Jesus, "Where should we worship, Jerusalem or Mount Gerizim?" They still were arguing about worship in that day. And so, they'd never completely got over it. But this is what started it all is when they sent a phony priest from Assyria, kind of a half priest, one of Jeroboam's priests, to come down and teach the Assyrians about Jehovah. And it just corrupted the religion. They believed in the five books of Moses, but they didn't believe the other prophets. And so, it was just a hodgepodge.

Now, do we see that happen to Christianity also? You got the commingling of paganism and idolatry and pagan teachings with Christianity. And then you ask and they'll say, "Oh yeah, I'm a Christian, I believe in Jesus." But they're worshipping kind of like some of the pagans. So, things have not changed I guess is what I'm saying. All right, so have you noticed that when the work of God is going forward, the devil tries to stop it? Is that true in your life? If you're trying to get out of Egypt, will the pharaoh chase after you and try to keep you from escaping? When God poured out the Holy Spirit in Acts chapter 2, there was a great revival. Did the devil sit back and applaud, or did he try to stop it? Look in Acts 6, verse 8, "Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and signs among them." And then you go to Acts 8:1, "Now Saul was consenting to his death," Stephen's dead, tried to stop it. "And at that time, great persecution arose against the church." It doesn't just say persecution, what kind of persecution? Great persecution.

Did the persecution come from the Romans or from their own people? From their own people. Was Jesus killed by the Romans or did His own people hand Him over? Who handed over Paul to the Romans? His own people. And who turned--who executed Stephen? His own people. They didn't even bother going to the Romans that time. "And Saul was consenting to his death, and there was great persecution. And they were scattered throughout the regions of Judah and Samaria, except the apostles."

So, you can see there's this opposition because they refuse to be unequally yoked with the pagans of Samaria. 2 Corinthians 6:14 through 18: "Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers, for what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said, 'I will dwell in them and walk among them. I will be their God and they will be My people. Therefore, come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean and I'll receive you. I will be a Father to you, and you will be My sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.'"

This is an important verse, but it can be misunderstood. "Come out from among them and be separate." Does that mean Christians shouldn't have any non-Christian friends? When it says, "Do not be unequally yoked," does that mean you cannot work for a non-believing business? No. You shouldn't be entering into a partnership where you're going to be tempted to compromise your convictions with an unbeliever. And of course, the most important partnership anyone ever enters into is called marriage. And so, that's principally what he's saying there, but you shouldn't enter into a religious alliance with somebody that does not believe.

Now, you know, if people who are Protestants and Catholic say, "Look, we're going to get together down town and feed the homeless," and you're on neutral ground, that's great. But when you start commingling in your worship services, that's a different story. So, sometimes it takes wisdom to know where do you draw the lines. Christians ought to have a lot of friends that they're reaching through Bible studies or you won't reach anyone. When it says come out and be separate, it doesn't mean build a wall around yourself and just live in a Christian ghetto and let the world all go to pot. They're already there. So, it's saying just don't enter into these alliances with unbelievers. You might find you've got to compromise your convictions.

All right, so the building of the temple is being resisted. Go to Ezra chapter 4, verse 13 now. And you can see that--well, go to verse 11. They send a letter. This is a copy of the letter they sent to King Artaxerxes. This is the false Artaxerxes. "From your servants, the men of the region beyond the river," and so forth. I mean, this is the introduction, "Let it be known to the king that the Jews who came up from you," have come from Persia, "have come to us at Jerusalem, and they're building the rebellious and the evil city."

Is that kind of setting the stage for what they're saying? They're telling them they're rebellious and the evil city. What city are they talking about? Jerusalem. "And are finishing its walls and repairing the foundations. Let it be known to the king that if this city is built and if the wall is completed, they will not pay tax, tribute, or custom to the king's treasury. It will be diminished. Now, because we receive support," the Samaritans, "we receive support from the palace, it was not proper for us to see the king's dishonor." Now they said, "It'll hurt you, it'll hurt us. That's why we're doing this." "Therefore, we've sent and informed the king that a search might be made in the book of our records of your fathers, and you'll find in that book the record and know that this city is a rebellious city, harmful to kings and provinces, and that they have incited sedition within the city in former times, for which cause this city was destroyed."

All right, was it true that Jerusalem on more than one occasion had rebelled against pagan kings? Yeah, they rebelled against Egypt, they rebelled against Babylon, they rebelled against Hezekiah, refused to surrender to Assyria. And God fought for them. And two sons of Josiah rebelled against Babylon. They promised, "We will submit, we will pay taxes." In fact, Zachariah or Zedekiah rather, he made a covenant in the name of the Lord that he will not rebel and he would pay taxes. And Jeremiah said, "You need to submit to the king of Babylon, pay the taxes. You will have peace." And he would not, and they ended up the temple was destroyed, the walls were destroyed, and everything got burnt and turned into the ruins they're describing.

So, the kings look through the record books, and you know, they had some amazing libraries. Up in Asia, they discovered an ancient library with cuneiform tablets that had 14,000 books. And they had many vast, ancient libraries. And they weren't all cuneiform tablets, they were sometimes scrolls. And so, they had some method of carrying these books. In the peak of the Ottoman Empire, just trivia, the Grand Vizier traveled with his library. He had 400 camels that carried his books when he traveled. And he organized his camels alphabetically so he could find the books in his library. They wanted to take their documents with them. But they--so they had vast libraries, they kept things. And it's so much faster now, you just type in search, press enter. It was a little harder back then, they had full-time scribes that would do that. And so, they did a search, they said, "Sure enough, this is true." And notice what else it says. "If they build the city, they'll rebel. We want to inform the king if this city is rebuilt, you'll have no dominion."

So, the king sends an answer. This is verse 17 of Ezra 4, "To Rehum the commander, to Shimshai the scribe and the rest of their companions who dwell in Samaria, and to the remainder beyond the river," that's Euphrates, "peace and so forth." They said--they had a long introduction. "The letter which you sent us has been clearly read before me, and I gave the command and search was made, and it was found that this city in former times has revolted against kings, and rebellion and sedition have been fostered in it. There have also been mighty kings." He kept reading, he said, "There have also been mighty kings over Jerusalem, who rule over all the region beyond the river."

And who are those mighty kings? Well, David, actually Solomon. His reign went all the way to beyond the river. There were times when King Asa, who reigned 52 years, King Jehoshaphat, there were some other kings that did pretty well in being some of the most powerful. And it says tribute and custom were paid to them. "Now, give the command to make these men cease, that this city may not be built until the command be given by me. Take heed now that you do not fail to do this. Why should damage increase to the hurt of the king?" Now, when the copy of King Artaxerxes's letter was read before Rehum, Shimshai scribe, and their companions, they couldn't wait. "They went up in haste to Jerusalem against the Jews, and by force of arms made them cease. Thus the work of the house of God which is in Jerusalem ceased. And it was discontinued until the second year of the reign of Darius, King of Persia."

Now, eventually they get permission to rebuild. This is a long spell when they don't build. But then they get permission to rebuild, but they stall. Because you know, when you lose momentum--we have a house up in the hills. And a friend who is a contractor did most of the work on that. And we were getting so excited about moving in, they weren't quite done. They were little things like, you know, some trim around the wallpaper and some baseboards in the closet, just little things, and hanging a few lights. And I remember he said, "Don't move in until it's all done, Doug." He says, "Once you move in, you'll never finish." I said, "No, I'll finish. You don't know me." Well, here we are 35, almost 40 years later, and still don't have the trim around the wallpaper, still don't have all the baseboard in.

Temporary things have a strange way of becoming permanent. And they had put off the building of the temple, even though they had laid the foundation and they done some work. And you remember when they laid the foundation, I think this was in an earlier lesson, I wasn't here, that the old man who had seen Solomon's temple, when they saw the size, the inferior size of the new temple, when they're laying the foundation, they're weeping. And the other people are saying, "Oh, we're starting to build the temple," and they're praising the Lord. And it says you couldn't tell who was weeping and who was rejoicing. So, they had started, but now the work had stopped. But finally, that king didn't last very long, that false Smerdis, that Artaxerxes. And he died off and they sent another letter, and they got permission to remobilize building the temple.

And so, during this time, the prophets encourage. You go to Ezra chapter 5, verse 1 and 2. "Then the prophet Haggai and Zechariah--" By the way, when you're reading what we're studying here, there's a cluster of books that go together. It's good to know Daniel because Daniel's life overlaps Zerubbabel, who ends up bringing back the captivity. Daniel, he foretold Cyrus. Actually, Daniel lived until the time of Cyrus. And then you've got Zerubbabel, you got Ezra, Nehemiah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi. And guess who else appears during this time? She was a queen. That was a giveaway, wasn't it? Esther. And so, all of these books are happening during the same time period, okay?

So, now they've got permission to rebuild again. And then it says, "The prophet Haggai, and Zechariah the son of Iddo, and the prophets prophesied to the Jews who were in Judah and Jerusalem in the name of the God of Israel who was over them. So, Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Jeshua the son of Jehozadak." Jeshua is the same as Joshua, just it's a little different spelling. "Rose up and began to build the house of God, which is in Jerusalem. And the prophets of God were with them helping them." Now, how do prophets help? Well, they might've had bricks and a trowel, but the main way prophets help is by prophesying. Notice what it says in Haggai chapter 1, verse 3. "Then the Word of the Lord came by Haggai the prophet, saying, 'Is it time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses and the temple lie in ruins? Now therefore, thus says the Lord, consider your ways. You've sown much, but you bring in little. You eat, but you don't have enough. You drink, but you're not filled with drink. You clothe yourselves, but no one is warm. And he who earns wages earns wages to put it in a bag with holes.'"

Any of you ever felt that way before? You just feel like you can't get ahead. It feels like no matter what you do, you're buying clothes, but you're still never quite warm. Nothing seems to be blessed is what he's saying. You earn wages and you put them in a bag with holes. I had that happen to me not too long ago. I put something in my pocket, and I went to look for it later and I couldn't find it. I kept digging and I said, "I know I put it in my pocket." I'm digging around with my hand. Pretty soon, I stuck my finger through a hole in the pocket. I said, "Ah, who knows where it is now." So, you ever feel like you put something in your pocket and it just--it goes away?

"Thus says the Lord." He's explaining why. "Consider your ways. Go up to the mountains. Bring wood. Build the temple that I might take pleasure in it and be glorified." He says, "You're all running to your houses, you're neglecting My house." He says, "You look for much, but indeed it came to little. And when you brought it home, I blew it away." You don't want God will be blowing away your stuff. "Why, says the Lord? Because My house is in ruins while everyone runs to his own house."

Boy, this would be a terrible waste of a Scripture for me to not mention to you we are in the midst of a church building program and we don't have enough money to finish yet, hint, hint. Want a blessing?

Haggai chapter 2. He says that this temple, "The glory of this latter temple will be greater than the former." Now, why did he prophesy that? They were saying, "Oh, this temple's nothing like Solomon's temple." But Haggai said, "No, no, no, the glory of this house will be even greater." Why could he say that? Well, two things. First of all, Jesus would be in that temple. You know, there was a day when on top of the mountain of transfiguration, Jesus is on the mountain. And while He's up there on the mountain, who appears to Him? Moses and Elijah. And then Peter doesn't know what to say, he says, "Lord, let's build three tabernacles, one for You, one for Moses, one for Elijah," because he didn't know what to say. But that's actually an interesting statement. Even what Peter said was inspired.

There was one temple during the time of Moses in the wilderness, correct? There was another temple during the time of Elijah that Solomon's temple was when what was still in existence during the time of Elijah. And wasn't there a different temple? Nehemiah and Ezra's temple was during the time of Jesus. And actually, the temple of Ezra and Nehemiah, when Herod the Great came along, he said, "I want a temple that's going to rival Solomon's." And he went through one of the most massive temple reconstructions in history.

Matter of fact, when Jesus said, "You destroy this temple, I'll raise it up in three days." They said, "Forty and six years it's taken us to build this temple." Why did they say 46 years? The restoration of Herod the Great had made it one of the wonders of the world. The temple was bigger than the Coliseum, at least the courtyard and the building area. It was--it was a jewel even for the Romans. They didn't want to destroy it in 70 AD, it was a soldier that threw a firebrand that wrecked it because it was such a beautiful building. And so, it's a twofold prophecy. Haggai's saying, "The glory of the second temple's going to be bigger, first of all because the Lord Himself in person is going to come to this temple and teach in its courts." Jesus often went into the temple. Every day, He went into the temple and He taught when He was in Jerusalem.

Secondly, because he was saying, "The temple you're looking at now is going to grow in magnificence." So, by the time Jesus came, it was pretty spectacular after that 46-year remodeling program. So, he said, "Don't worry, it's going to be better than you can imagine." And then he tells us in chapter--Haggai I'm in, chapter 2, verse 18, "Consider now from this day forward, from the 24th day of the ninth month from the day that the foundation of the Lord's temple was laid, consider it. Is the seed still in the barn, and yet the vine and the fig tree and the pomegranate and the olive, have they not yielded fruit? But from this day, I will bless you." He said, "From the time you finally start getting back to work on the house of the Lord, I'm going to bless you."

There's a neat quote in the book "Prophets and Kings," this is page--this is in your lesson, page 573 and 574. "The prophets Haggai and Zechariah were raised up to meet the crisis. In stirring testimonies, these appointed messengers revealed to the people the cause of their troubles. The lack of temporal prosperity was the result of a neglect to put God's interests first." That's a great quote, sounds a lot like where Jesus said, "Seek first the kingdom of God and all the other things will be added." When we fail to put spiritual things, and God's work, and God's house as a priority, our houses and our other things aren't going to have the same blessing. "The neglect to put God's interests first, the prophets declared had the Israelites honored God as they had shown Him due respect and courtesy by making the building of His house their first work, they would've invited His presence and His blessing."

So, now we're going to jump to Nehemiah, I've just got ten minutes here to cover this very important section. Go to Nehemiah chapter 4. And you'll see here this is so great, the whole story. And this is another study, it's about Nehemiah praying and being sent by the king, and some believe that the queen during that time was Esther, to come and to rebuild the walls of the city. They built some of the walls around the temple, but the main fortifications they had not built because, well, the enemy said they're going to do that to defend it against the king of Persia. But when the king--Nehemiah went directly to the king and he gave him permission to go. And he says, "I'll also even pay for it."

So, now not only are they getting what do you call it? To opposition from building the temple during the time of Nehemiah, "It happened with Sanballat heard that we were rebuilding the wall that he was furious." You know, the Bible says God's people are going to be called the restorers of paths to dwell in. We are to do repairing, repairers of the breach. Has there been a breach in God's law, in God's church? Does the Seventh Day Adventist church have a special work to do to repair a breach in the wall? And when we do that, how's the devil going to feel? Revelation 12:17, "The dragon was wroth, enraged, furious with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed that keep the commandments of God." Restoring that breach, does that make sense?

So, when our enemies heard, they were furious and very indignant, and mocked the Jews. They'll try to use discouragement. And he spoke before his brethren and the army of Samaria, and he said, "What are these feeble Jews doing? Will they fortify themselves? Will they offer sacrifices? Will they complete it in a day? Will they revive the stones from the heaps of rubbish, stones that are burned?" Once the stones are burned, they're not safe anymore, you need to get new ones. "Now, Tobiah the Ammonite was beside him, and he said, "Oh, whatever they build, even if a fox goes up on it, he'll break down their stone walls." Foxes are so small and fleet of foot, the idea that a fox could tumble it over is a figure of speech.

So, how does Nehemiah respond? He doesn't argue with him, he prays. Verse 4: "Hear, oh our God." What else does he do? Verse 6: he ignores him and he keeps working. The devil will try to distract you by mocking. You know what the devil does? He tries to get you to defend yourself. You know, friends, you have no idea of the amount of mail, Bonnie knows something about it, the amount of mail I get. And much of it very kind and positive, not all of it. And a lot of people say the most outrageous things. And if I wanted to, I could spend all of my time defending myself, defending my statements. And sometimes you have to say, "This person is not open." They're not--if they're open, we always try and send them information. But if they're just being hostile and angry and combative, the devil would love to distract you, getting into a debate so you stop building.

You got to keep the main thing the main thing. And don't waste your time arguing with people you're never going to reach anyway. Verse 7, how did they respond when they were ignored and he kept building? You notice what happened? "So we built the wall. The entire wall was joined together up to half its height because the people had a mind to work." They had a mind to work because Nehemiah was a great leader. "Then their enemies," verse 7, I'm in Nehemiah 4, verse 7, "became very angry." That dragon is very wroth. And so, what did Nehemiah do? Go to verse 13, "Do not be afraid of them." They threatened to attack. "Remember the Lord, great and awesome, and fight for your brethren, your sons, your daughter, your wives, and your homes." And verse 19 and 20, Nehemiah says, "Our God will fight for us." He said, "All right, look, if you want to fight, we'll fight, but we're not going to stop working."

So, they even threatened him with war. And so, what was Nehemiah's response? "Well, we're going to have soldiers on the wall, we'll have the arsenal and the weapons ready, and we're going to keep working. We're not going to stop building the wall," because the most important thing for your protection is to have the wall, have it finished. The devil doesn't want you to have the wall because if you got the wall, then it's really hard for him to get in. Isn't that right?

So, then finally I want you to notice when the walls get built, and it's a miracle, you know, they build the wall because the people had a mind to work. And they had to haul out rubbish, they had all kinds of threats and, you know, they threatened Nehemiah's life. "You got to hide in the temple, they're going to kill you." He said, "No, I'm not going to hide." And they kept working. And go to Nehemiah 6. Go to the first verse. "Now it happened when Sanballat, Tobiah, Geshem the Arab," remember I mentioned the Arabs earlier. And you wondered, "Why do you say that?" "And the rest of our enemies heard that I had rebuilt the wall, that there were no breaks, no breaches left in it." This is the work of God's people to restore the breach. "Though at that time had not hung the doors of the gates. Then Sanballat and Geshem sent to me, saying, 'Come, let's meet together in one of the villages in the plain of Ono.' But they thought to do me harm."

So, you just need to know that if anyone ever says they want to meet with you in the plain of Ono, your answer is, "Oh no." Isn't that right? "They thought to do me harm." They said, "Come on down. Let's talk about it. We can negotiate. Let's find some common ground. You make a compromise, we'll make a compromise. We don't have to be at odds like this with each other." He said, "No, I'm not even going to meet with you." You know why we're in trouble? It's because Eve wanted to parlay with the devil. She was engaged in discussing it. And as soon as you get yourself on that ground, he's a better debater than you are. So it says, "They thought to do me harm, so I sent a message to them saying, 'I am doing a great work so that I cannot come down. Why should the work cease while I leave it and go down to you?' But they sent this message four times, and I answered them in the same manner."

Can you look at the relentlessness of the devil to try to just wear him down? Kept sending the message, different ways, they said, "Oh look, you know, we're going to--the king's going to find out bad things are happening. You better talk to us. You need us. You better negotiate with us." And he just said, "Look, I'm focused on getting this wall built. Why should the work cease while I come down and talk to you?" Now, are you and I doing a great work when we're sharing the gospel? There's nothing the devil wants more than to distract us.

Can you think of another time in the Bible when someone said, "Come down and let's talk about it"? He said, "Why should the work cease while I go down to you?" Matthew 27, when Jesus is on the cross: "Likewise, the chief priest also, mocking with the scribes and elders, said, 'He saved others, Himself He cannot save. If He is the king of the Jews.'" Now, who was inspiring that sentence? The mocking and the if, does that sound familiar? Were they mocking Nehemiah? "If He is the king of Israel, let Him now come down and we will believe." You want us to believe? All you've got to do is come down. I think those priests were inspired by Satan himself. And that word, that line was put in their mouth by Satan himself. And he's saying, "Look, we'll believe You're the Son of God. You don't need to die on the cross. Just come down, use Your miracle power. You've healed so many others before, just come down. The whole nation will convert. You don't need to die." And Jesus by His silence, He said, "I am doing a great work. Why should the work cease while I come down and argue with you?"

You know, I've got--I like history. And I got a few heroes in history. And one of my heroes, I mean, he had his problems, but I admire him, was Teddy Roosevelt. Because you know how many people tried to build the Panama Canal? Way back in the days of Cortez, they actually got up to the top and they said, "Look, you can reach the Pacific from the Atlantic. We could build a canal." And so, some tried to start a business there in Spain. And then different conglomerations started business and they failed. Mostly it was because malaria ate them alive, the workers died off so fast. And then the French had a corporation, it went bankrupt. Matter of fact, the same fellow who built the Suez Canal said, "Oh yeah, I can do that. I built the Suez Canal." But the Suez Canal, it was all flat sand. All you had to do was dig a straight line. He had no idea he was going to have to dig through mountains, all that water, and all that disease and stuff. They went bankrupt. And finally, Teddy Roosevelt came along, he said, "You sell it to us." He actually orchestrated things where he created the country of Panama with his navy a little bit. And then he said, "Now, sell us a little piece. We will build the canal," and he did. And said, "Just give us 100-year lease." Of course, our lease is up now, we don't own it anymore.

But the determination, if you knew Roosevelt, whenever he went after something, he just was relentless. And so, that's how Nehemiah was. He said, "I'm doing a great work. I'll not be distracted." One of the ways the devil tries to stop us is just distracting us, amen?

We have run out of time, I think we got most of the lesson in. And this is a great study to go along with what we've talked about. Free gift we want to make available to anybody watching, it's called "Compromise, Conformity, and Courage." We don't want to compromise. You can get a free copy if you call Amazing Facts, it's simply... We'll send you one. That actually translates into 866-STUDY-MORE. Ask for offer number 774 when you do that. And you can even get this book via text. If you want to download it right now for free, you can simply text SH019 to 40544. You can download the book and read it now.

Well, thank you, friends. We're out of time, but God willing, we'll study His Word again together next week.

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Announcer: Let's face it, it's not always easy to understand everything you read in the Bible. With over 700,000 words contained in 66 books, the Bible can generate a lot of questions. To get biblical, straightforward answers, call into "Bible Answers Live," a live nationwide call-in radio program where you can talk to Pastor Doug Batchelor and ask him your most difficult Bible questions. For times and stations in your area, or to listen to answers online, visit bal.amazingfacts.org.

Doug: We're here in Ponce, Puerto Rico, in an iguana park surrounded by big lizards or small dinosaurs, depends on how you look at it. These magnificent creatures are found mostly in Mexico, Central America, South America, and the Caribbean Islands. Here's a few amazing facts about iguanas. Iguanas come in a great spectrum of colors. They can be brown, green, blue, and their skin will often work as camouflage, allowing them to hide in the jungle. They're social creatures who like to eat together.

And what's really interesting, even though they look fierce, iguanas are vegan vegetarians. They're regarded as popular pets, though if they're not cared for, they can actually just stop eating and will themselves to die. Typically, iguanas just lay eggs and they abandon their offspring, so those little iguanas have to fend for themselves from the time they're born. If they're attacked, they'll fight with their tail, either punching or whipping their opponent. It's interesting to see a dog running for mercy after being whipped by an iguana. [dogs barking]

Also, to ensure a fast escape, they can detach their tail and later grow another one. Iguanas generally like to live around water. And they can swim away, escaping from predators. Green iguanas in particular are excellent swimmers. They have the ability to inflate themselves and swim incredible distances. This is one way they've been able to populate the different islands of the Caribbean. What's incredible is these creatures have lungs where they're able to hold their breath for up to 28 minutes, putting even a crocodile to shame. They also know how to compensate for when things get hot or cold. They can regulate their body temperature using the loose flaps of skin they have under their throats and under their legs. You might even say an iguana has ESP because God made them with sort of a third eye on top of their head. They can't really see with it, but it's a photoreceptor that helps them to regulate their body's circadian rhythms.

You know, in the same way that God made iguanas where they're some of the toughest creatures in God's natural kingdom, Christians need to learn to be resilient in the spiritual realm. Through God's grace, we can learn to be great survivors. Paul says in 2 Corinthians 4, verse 8 and 9, "We are hard pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed." I think, friends, we all know sometimes life can be tough. We feel like we're being beaten, pressed on every side. Sometimes, it's health problems, relationship problems, financial reverses. But in the same way God made the iguana resilient, God can help you to bounce back. Jesus said that through His help, we can be overcomers and we are able to endure. If you turn to Him and ask Him for His help and His Spirit, He will recreate you and make you even tougher than an iguana. Wouldn't you like to ask Him now?

Diana Dixon: My name is Diana Dixon, I'm a professional truck driver. And August the 4th, 2011, I stopped to help in an accident.

Male: Diana Dixon also tried to help. She parked her semi, jumped out, and headed toward the pickup. That's when she saw vehicles barreling toward her, so she reacted by jumping off 475 to a road below.

Diana: Well, a pickup had clipped a semi, and I stopped to help and I saw it in the mirror. So, I walked back, gentleman told me, he says, "Hey, you know, everything's okay. They called 911." And I looked over at the pickup and there was a black pickup over there and he was okay. And about that time, I don't know how far I walked, but I walked far enough and a semi hit him, and it imploded. I knew it was going to hit me. I had 30 seconds to decide, and I decided to jump.

Diana: Yeah, I jumped off the bridge, my back's broken.

Male: Where are you at?

Diana: I don't know. Fractured my pelvis in 24 places, 5 broken ribs, C5 neck fracture. I had a collapsed lung, I had a lacerated bladder, I was bleeding internally. I had no marks on the outside of me at all, but a scrape where my arm had scraped the concrete. From the chest down, I was on fire. I was a dispatcher for a year after the accident. And I went back, finished my degree, and I went to Pittsburg, threw a backpack over my back, walked like all the other students, I ran a marathon. And I'm--since then, I've been back to truck driving.

There was a gentleman I worked with, and one day he was walking in, and he walked up to my desk and I was reading my Bible. And he says, "Are you a believer?" And I said, "Yes." And he gave me some Amazing Facts study guides. And it just--it was an eye-opening experience for me. I mean, I started reading them and I had a bunch of questions to ask him, so I got online and I got on the Amazing Facts webpage. And I just found information just that I'd never known. I went back to work as a truck driver because that was my ministry. It was my ministry before the accident. And I was driving down the road and I just needed a connection, and I was flipping through, and somehow I ended up on YouTube. And next thing I know, Amazing Facts, one of those things would come up there, and I'd listen to it. I'm driving down the road, I got--I got 11 hours of driving. So, I listen to one, I listen to another one. And the more I listen to him, everything that I thought in my heart, I'd just click on one of his YouTubes and there he was giving me the answer.

I walked in the Seventh-day Adventist Church for the first time and I felt at home. I was baptized in the Seventh-day Adventist Church because I had found the truth that I just was searching for and I'd been praying about. Amazing Facts has been such an inspiration and important for my coming back into ministry that I want to be able to give back to anyone that I can. And Amazing Facts is the backbone of my ministry. My name is Diana Dixon. Thank you for changing my life.

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