Bad Advice


Then the people of the land discouraged the people of Judah, and frightened them from building,
(Ezra 4:4 NASB)
and hired counselors against them to frustrate their counsel all the days of Cyrus king of Persia, even until the reign of Darius king of Persia.
(Ezra 4:5 NASB)



The scene opens on the people of God wanting to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem. This wasn't Solomon's temple but the second temple, after the people had been in exile in Babylon. However, the people of God continue to be tempted as the enemy finds whatever way possible to keep them from their task. What better way to keep these people in disarray than to thwart their efforts to build a temple which would unify them in their worship of God. Interestingly the "people of the land" included the Samaritans -- remnants of the Israelites who should have known better. They are the ones who are willing to sell themselves to the rulers of the day and to frustrate the plans of the faithful Jews. One translation says that they bribed counselors to give bad advice. In other words they bombarded them with discouraging news -- telling them that building the temple would not be possible, it would cost too much, there weren't enough people to get the task done, etc. And sadly, they listened and were influenced by the bad advice and did not build the temple.



How often do we go to the world around us to get advice instead of going right to God. The people were trying to accomplish the task which God had placed before them but instead of trusting in him, they were willing to listen to the counselors and the strategists who told them that it was impossible!
Just last week my husband and I sat for two hours and spoke with the research department of our denomination. They gave us all kinds of data and information regarding the demographics of our part of the country and the trends regarding Christianity and church growth. To be completely honest -- the strategy experts pretty much said that we live in one of the saddest parts of the country demographically with some of the least fertile opportunities for church growth. We probably didn't need experts to tell us this :) But now we have to ask ourselves what we are going to do with this information. We could use it as an excuse and say that there really is not much possibility to make a difference here -- or, we could be energized by the fact that "With God all things are possible!" We choose the latter -- because we know that we serve a God of possibilities in the midst of impossibilities. We know the end of the story of the Israelites -- that the walls of the city were rebuilt and that the second temple came to fruition. What changed? Their attitudes changed when they got better advice; and from whom did they get that better advice? From God!

Our world is filled with "experts" in all sorts of fields and topics who will be willing to give us advice. It's not bad to get expert advice, but it's wrong if the expert advice draws us away from God's will. There are times in our lives when the enemy uses the advice of "experts" to literally keep us from what God desires for us. The only way that we can find a balance is to spend so much time with God that we learn to discern his voice and his leading. Then, we learn to follow the best advice which we can be given -- the advice that comes from God -- and he is the ultimate expert!



Lord, please help me to listen to you today -- to hear your voice as you lead in all things. Amen.


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