Then the king sent this reply: To Rehum the commander, Shimshai the scribe, and the rest of your associates living in Samaria and elsewhere in the region west of the Euphrates: Greetings.
I. THAT MEN ARE CAPABLE OF HINDERING THE WORK OF GOD. "Give ye now commandment to cause these men to cease, and that this city be not builded" (ver. 21).
1. Presumptuous. "Then ceased the work of the house of God." How could presumption be greater than to stop the work of God; let men pluck the stars from the heavens, but let them not injure the Church of Christ.
2. Perplexing. Is it not a mystery that the Eternal will allow frail and sinful men to impede the work of his people?
3. Prejudicial. The walls of Jerusalem required restoration. The temple must be built and the old worship restored. This hindrance is injurious to the Jewish commonwealth. How do men prejudice great interests by staying the beneficent ministries of the Church.
4. Permitted. These hindrances were allowed for a time, that new energy might be stimulated, that the mercy of God might be seen in the aid given to the dejected workers, and his glory in the final defeat of all enemies.
5. Preparatory. To greater success; the pent-up stream will soon flow on more rapidly.
6. Patient. The work of the Church is patient; it will outlive all enmity.
II. THE METHODS WHICH ARE MOST CALCULATED TO HINDER THE WORK OF GOD. The letter to the king caused the work to cease. The impediments to Church work are -
1. External. The political may hinder the moral; unjust law, civil persecution, and the force of circumstances may sometimes cause the work of God to cease
(2) Force (ver. 23).
2. Internal. The work of God is more often hindered by a low spiritual condition, by a quarrelsome temper, by a critical spirit, by the thoughtless word; it is indeed sad to cause moral work to cease from within. See the responsibility of conduct, when a word may, like this letter to the king, stay the work of God.
III. THE CONSEQUENCES WHICH FOLLOW WHEN THE WORK OF GOD IS HINDERED.
1. Disappointment. After the generous edict of Cyrus how disappointing this order to cease work. How often is the Church disappointed in her best efforts.
2. Complaint. No doubt many Israelites would indulge a complaining spirit. The Church should not grumble when its work is hindered, but pray.
3. Sorrow. That the good work should be unfinished.
4. Hope. That God will yet undertake their cause. - E.
Them sent the king an answer.I. EXAMINE THE LETTER OF THE KING. This letter suggests —
1. That the subtlety of the wicked frequently obtains a temporary triumph over the good.
2. That one generation frequently suffers through the sins of another and earlier one. The Jews smarted for their sins of Jehoiakim and Zedekiah.
3. That the cause of God is frequently reproached and hindered by the evil conduct of some of its adherents. The rebellions of Jehoiakim and Zedekiah were now made use of to asperse the Jews and to stop the work of God. All who love the gospel should therefore walk circumspectly.
II. THE ACTION OF THE SAMARITANS. "Now when the copy of king Artaxerxes' letter was read," etc. Their action was —
: 1. That the temporary triumph of a cause or a party is not a proof of its righteousness. The death and burial of Christ. 2. That we are not competent to judge the relation of the present events to the purpose and providence of the great God. (William Jones.)
1. That the temporary triumph of a cause or a party is not a proof of its righteousness. The death and burial of Christ.
2. That we are not competent to judge the relation of the present events to the purpose and providence of the great God.
Unto the rest beyond the river, Peace
The Literacy Churchman.I. THE ADVENT MESSAGE OF THE CHURCH TO SINNERS IS, "Beyond the river, Peace!", She tells of a promised land and arouses the slaves of sin.
II. CHRIST IS COME AND WITH HIM PEACE, BUT WE MUST GO TO MEET HIM.
III. THE ROAD THITHER IS HARD — We must cross the river of self-denial. A legend says that once a wanderer went to a city, and the first man he met said to him, "Of course you come to see our famous statue?" and each one he met in that town told him of the famous statue; and, moreover, each one prided himself in having something to do with it: this one to guard it; that one to keep it clean, and so forth. As the traveller stood before it he asked, "Who is this?" "Oh! we've forgotten his name," was the reply, "but that's no matter, it is a splendid statue, and the glory of our town." Sadly the wanderer turned away, and do you know, dear people, as he went out of the gate some little children cried, "Why, that is the man our famous statue was put up to!" Is it not still possible for men and women to be church-goers and church-workers, to be proud of their Church, and yet the Living Christ passes by unknown?
(The Literacy Churchman.).
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