Ezra 4: We Do Not Repay Evil with Evil
Posted by Zak Schmoll
Ezra 4 would frustrate me. For one thing, the other cities made up a totally fake story just to discredit what Israel was doing in Jerusalem. They told the king of Persia that they were building up a rebellion and would no longer want to pay tribute to Persia.
We have no record that that was anywhere near remotely true. The only reason it seems that they made up these charges was because the Jewish people would not allow them to help build the Temple.
Ezr 4:2 Then they came to Zerubbabel, and to the chief of the fathers, and said unto them, Let us build with you: for we seek your God, as ye do; and we do sacrifice unto him since the days of Esarhaddon king of Assur, which brought us up hither.
Ezr 4:3 But Zerubbabel, and Jeshua, and the rest of the chief of the fathers of Israel, said unto them, Ye have nothing to do with us to build an house unto our God; but we ourselves together will build unto the LORD God of Israel, as king Cyrus the king of Persia hath commanded us.
Nevertheless, when the false charges came up, the Persian king gave all of these rivals permission to go and force the people of Israel to stop rebuilding the city.
All of this happened because of a total lie that was retaliatory.
I think that all of us can relate to this on some level. People might make up a false story about us for some external purpose. Maybe they want to get that promotion ahead of us, or maybe they want to knock down our popularity for the benefit of their own.
They are not right to do that, and the Ten Commandments themselves tell us not to bear false witness. However, we cannot force other people to act morally. We can only make sure that we do not retaliate in a similar way. We don’t repay evil for evil.
Tomorrow, we will find that how the Israelites responded, so I might just leave you hanging until then on that level.