The Accusers

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.”

Then the people of the land discouraged the people of Judah and made them afraid to build and bribed counselors against them to frustrate their purpose, all the days of Cyrus king of Persia, even until the reign of Darius king of Persia. And in the reign of Ahasuerus, in the beginning of his reign, they wrote an accusation against the inhabitants of Judah and Jerusalem. Ezra 4:1-6.

After seeing what they went through to make sure members of this force really were authentic Jews, it is not surprising that they rejected these Interlopers. After all, if they are worshipers of the one true God, why didn’t they start to repair the city? In short order, they reveal that they are actually enemies.

God has planted us in this world to establish the visible kingdom of God. And it had specifications. Different people have been given gifts, that they may carry out the mission of bearing fruit: making Disciples and teaching them to obey whatsoever Jesus has commanded.

You can count on people showing up who will want to tweak the agenda. They will add a lot of busywork that does not focus on the mission. They may think that an emphasis on holiness and obedience makes us “too exclusive.” They may pervert the scriptures to accomplish this.

The new testament is also full of warnings against false teachers, and even against false christs. This is why we have been given the word of the Lord; to filter out falsehood and oppose it.

Remembering What Was Lost

And when the builders laid the foundation of the temple of the Lord, the priests in their vestments came forward with trumpets, and the Levites, the sons of Asaph, with cymbals, to praise the Lord, according to the directions of David king of Israel. And they sang responsively, praising and giving thanks to the Lord,

“For he is good,
for his steadfast love endures forever toward Israel.”

And all the people shouted with a great shout when they praised the Lord, because the foundation of the house of the Lord was laid. But many of the priests and Levites and heads of fathers’ houses, old men who had seen the first house, wept with a loud voice when they saw the foundation of this house being laid, though many shouted aloud for joy, so that the people could not distinguish the sound of the joyful shout from the sound of the people’s weeping, for the people shouted with a great shout, and the sound was heart far away. Ezra 3:10-13.

The young and the old do look at this differently. While the young rejoice in this new beginning, the old are saddened by the memory of what was lost. But at least they value the same thing.

Urim and Thummim

The following were those who came up from Tel-melah, Tel-harsha, Cherub, Addan, and Immer, though they could not prove their fathers’ houses or their descent, whether they belonged to Israel: the sons of Delaiah, the sons of Tobiah, and the sons of Nekoda, 652. Also, of the sons of the priests: the sons of Habaiah, the sons of Hakkoz, and the sons of Barzillai (who had taken a wife from the daughters of Barzillai the Gileadite, and was called by their name). These sought their registration among those enrolled in the genealogies, but they were not found there, and so they were excluded from the priesthood as unclean. The governor told them that they were not to partake of the most holy food, until there should be a priest to consult Urim and Thummim. Ezra 2:59-63.

There were laws against divination, but those were to prevent one from seeking other gods. The law did provide a form of divination for inquiring of THE LORD.

The Urim and Thummim are believed to be two stones that probably signified yes and no. I remember David had called for them when deciding whether or not he should pursue those who kidnapped his family. That would seem like a no-brainer, but David was doing this as an act of submission to insure God was with him if he was to go after them.

Not only was this the approved method, but the priest would be called upon to perform the function. It was not to be done lightly, as if flipping a coin or tolling dice. God is holy, and all things should possess the appropriate gravity.

Lest we think this is just an old testament artifact, let us remember that when the apostles were deciding who should take the place of Judas, they cast lots to decide between Matthias and Joseph, who was called Barsabas. The lot fell to Matthias, and he got the job.