Like the Jews who compared the former temple to the reconstructed foundation, we will, first, have to overcome inner comparisons. Personal failures will taunt, reminding us of areas where we’ve lost ground. This must be combatted with forward motion, seeing, not what was, but what can be. Perhaps the area of rebuilding is personal health. Days of yore, when we were younger, thinner, or more active typically whisper, “You’ll never be what you used to be, so why bother?” Facing that fact head on with determination for what CAN be achieved is the only way to move toward a brighter, freer tomorrow.
Once the inner battle is won, external opposition arises. For Judah, it came through people from the surrounding regions. History says that many of these were people who had been left behind when the captives had been hauled off to Babylon. Left to make sure the land didn’t go desolate, they’d laid aside their spiritual heritage that set them apart from others and intermarried with peoples from pagan nations who’d settled the area. Not only were they a mixed race, they were a mixed religion, adopting practices from numerous cultures and blending them into a doctrine that suited their way of life. These were the uprisers. However, they didn’t launch an out-and-out attack at first. Instead, they asked to join in building the temple. They said they wanted to be included in seeking Israel’s God. However, their motives weren’t pure. They merely wanted to add another god to their collection in hopes that He would protect and bless them as he co-existed with their idols. They had no desire to follow His will, His way, His plan. Their gesture was to get the renewed worship to conform to their way of life, not to embrace worship that conformed to God’s will for their lives. That, too, is our next battle. Compromise. Whether it is an effort to take a spiritual stand or an effort to lose weight, compromise is the voice that edges from the outside in. “One piece of that pie won’t hurt.” “I’ll hang out with my partying friend; I just wont drink.” It always sounds so inclusive and well-balanced, but in truth, it is pandering to the flesh at the expense of pushing God—or any other self-discipline to the curb. To kill compromise requires denial of the flesh.
When compromise fails, we often face big guns that aim to shut us down, like the king's reply to letters that Israel's adversaries sent him. "Stop the work," they say. Sometimes, health issues rain on our best laid exercise options and discouragement depresses our motivation to strive. It’s difficult to move forward when something bigger than our will says it’s impossible. How can you set up the business you feel led to build when you can’t get a loan, or how can you build a ministry when your support system isn’t on board?
Setbacks are just part of the process, but there is victory in spite of the setbacks. In Ezra 5, prophets began to prophesy “in the name of the God of Israel who was over them,” and the desire to construct the temple was rekindled. A renewed zeal prompted builders to pick up their tools and build again. This time, the shift was in their favor. Instead of obstructions to the progress, support for the work of the Lord was provided. When we face setbacks, our answers lie in turning to God for supernatural strength. His word is a source of fuel to rekindle the fires of passion that have died out. We can again feel ignited to pursue those things that will increase our spiritual and physical well-being.
Not only does that Word prompt a fresh start, it maintains the momentum. The Jews “prospered through he prophesying…and they built and finished it.” We apply the same kind of faith that begins the process to maintain the process until the goal is reached. When we have accomplished what we set out to achieve in our temple, we will have moved beyond the past, we will have defied naysayers and opponents to our success, we will have stood against compromise, and we will have pressed through setbacks. Through God’s strength we will have prevailed, and that is cause for celebration.
Tip/Tidbit: Set a vision for your temple and rally yourself through the slumps with the power of God’s word. You can come out victorious. Your goal can be reached. Your temple can be built. The word that begins the work will steady the progress and bring to completion the work you have begun.