Discouragement of the Adversaries

Our text begins right where we left off, shortly after the captives returned, built the altar, then built the foundation of the temple. The shouts of joy and cries of sorrow were so loud that they were heard afar off. Chapter 4 begins with “the adversaries heard that the returned exiles were building a temple” and opposition begins. This opposition began under King Darius. But in verse 6-7, Ezra quickly describes opposition during Kings Ahasuerus and Artaxerxes (whose reigns ended roughly 60 years after Darius); and then in the last verse of the chapter (24), Ezra switches back to opposition under Darius. The literary structure of this chapter is not incidental. Under the Spirit’s inspiration, Ezra organizes this information thematically rather than chronologically. He is emphasizing ongoing opposition and highlighting how the returnees are a multigenerational front against adversity that would need to be overcome more than once. These themes serve as a reminder for us that opposition in life, particularly against the work of God, is bound to repeat itself.