Floating letters around (whether they are anonymous or ascribed to a person of influence) to frustrate a good and purposeful work is a trick as old as the hills. The letter that allegedly came from someone in the White House and sent to the N.Y. times has the news media doing cartwheels down Main Street. It matters not that the word “anonymous” clouds the entire event with suspicion; what’s important to the nay-sayers is that the dispatch is highly critical of this administration. By the time this column is published, the letter’s author may be flushed out, but can we really believe the whole thing wasn’t manufactured by the Times itself? I even encountered a fleeting thought that “the Donald” may have ordered it written for the purpose of keeping the media off balance during the Kavanaugh hearings and confirmation. Wouldn’t that be a kick?
Ezra and Nehemiah are two small Biblical books which typify the time period between A.D. 1917 (the Balfour Declaration) and the present day. They tell the story of a remnant of Jews who were allowed to return to their homeland years after suffering captivity and dispersion at the hands of the Babylonians. Ezra the scribe led the first incursion with the approval of Cyrus, king of Persia. The purpose was to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem which had been destroyed 53 years earlier.
A few years later Nehemiah was granted a similar commission, but for the purpose of rebuilding the walls surrounding Jerusalem. The local “Palestinians” resented and resisted both efforts, preferring to maintain control over the broken down trash heap that illustrated their lack of vision and ambition.
The similarities to then and now are striking, not only in the Middle East but in America as well. Liberal policies that favor turning the U.S. into a third world country through unrestricted immigration have mutated some American cities into reproductions of Cairo, Egypt. The reconstruction of the Temple would attract more Jews who always find ways to enhance the economy. The city wall would provide protection against adversaries of the proposal.
The present unemployment rate in the U.S. is hovering around 3% which is actually zero percent by virtue of that fact that there will always be 3% who will do everything possible to avoid a job. Help wanted signs are popping up like mushrooms in a rain forest. Some people are willing to live in a dumpster, but as long as it’s their dumpster, everything is glorious!
It didn’t take long for Ezra to be met with opposition: “Then the people of the land weakened the hands of the people of Judah, and troubled them in building, and hired counsellors against them to frustrate their purpose” (Ezra 4:4,5). As the narrative continues we learn that a comprehensive strategy was formulated, includeing an avalanche of accusatory letters containing distortions and lies. Some of the writers were old enough to remember the former glory of the city and surrounding communities. It was not strictly a Jewish metropolis but rather featured people of many nationalities. But why make any effort to return to the “Happy Days” of a booming economy and a sense of safety? Government-provided dumpsters are readily available.
The letter campaign was so successful that King Artaxerxes ordered the entire project shut down. Several years of dumpster living followed until the spiritual community decided to become actively involved: “..then the prophets, Haggai the prophet, and Zechariah the son of Iddo, prophesied unto the Jews that were in Judah and Jerusalem in the name of the God of Israel, even unto them. Then rose up Zerubbabel the son of Shealfiel, and Jeshua the son of Jozadak, and began to build the house of God which is at Jerusalem: and with them were the prophets of God helping them.” (Ezra 5:1,2)
In no time the local bureaucrats arrived at the “crime scene,” demanding to know who granted permission to allow progress. In a nutshell, the builders said, “This is a God project….bug off.” Alas, another letter was penned.
This time the complaint was sent to the Persian monarch Darius who had enough sense to have the records researched. He soon discovered that Cyrus had in fact commissioned the reconstruction of the Temple. By return mail the Democrats received a memo from the king which began with: “Let the work of this house of God alone; let the governor of the Jews and the elders of the Hews build this house of God in his place” (Ezra 6:7). To add insult to injury, the king ordered the media and friends to aid the project in every way possible.
The Lord knows how to throw an excellent boomerang, but the accuracy of flight often depends on the sincerity of His people. “If my people, which are called by my name, shalt humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” (II Chronicles 7:14)