The Laodicean Project- A Verse on Cleansing and Protecting Our Leadership

While I was thinking over the issue of our need to cleanse the leadership of the church in order to more effectively reach traditionally Christian societies I was reading in the book of Ezra. The story given in Ezra is the same as that in Nehemiah, about the return of the Jews to Jerusalem where they work to rebuild the city gates and to construct anew the temple of the Lord. And during this period, a continual theme that we see come about is the constant attempt by adversaries of God’s people to keep the work of the kingdom from being done.

One particular attempt at this really struck me, as it came in a slightly different flavor than most of the others that are written about. Typically in Ezra and Nehemiah we see the foes of the Israelites come in and try and scare the people away under threat of death (see Nehemiah 4) or by trying to convince the kings to decree a halt to their work (see Ezra 4:6-5:17). However, a different tactic is tried in Ezra 4:1-3:

Now when the adversaries of Judah and Benjamin heard that the returned exiles were building a temple to the LORD, the God of Israel, they approached Zerubbabel and the heads of fathers’ houses and said to them, “Let us build with you, for we worship your God as you do, and we have been sacrificing to him ever since the days of Esarhaddon king of Assyria who brought us here.” But Zerubbabel, Jeshua, and the rest of the heads of fathers’ houses in Israel said to them, “You have nothing to do with us in building a house to our God; but we alone will build to the LORD, the God of Israel, as King Cyrus the king of Persia has commanded us.”

It is in this passage that we see the opposition come up to the Israelites and claim an allegiance to the God of Israel in order to try and get inside of the congregation and tear down the building from the inside. I believe that a lot of times this is what we see happening in our own congregations; people coming in, claiming allegiance to Christ in order not to serve Him, but instead to gain status and influence in directing the Church in the way that they see fit and not the way God does. We need to be aware of this and we need to follow the example of the workers in Ezra, not afraid to put our foot down and judge the intentions of those who would seek to see the work of God’s kingdom destroyed.

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