Ezra 3-4, Hebrews 2

For A Little While.

Ezra 3-4, Hebrews 2

“What is man, that you are mindful of him, or the son of man, that you care for him? You made him for a little while lower than the angels; you have crowned him with glory and honor, putting everything in subjection under his feet.” Hebrews 2:6-8 ESV

Most of us don’t like delays. We are an impatient people who can’t stand to wait for anyone or anything, including God. When we find ourselves in times of difficulty or facing less-than-acceptable circumstances, we can quickly grow impatient and demand immediate action on the part of God. We want our situation resolved right away. But there are times when God delays; and when He does, there is always a very good reason. When the Jews who had returned to the land began the process of rebuilding the Temple, they immediately found themselves facing strong opposition. The land to which they had returned was filled with people who had been sent there by the Babylonians and Persians. These transplanted foreigners didn’t like the prospect of the Jews returning to their land and rebuilding their cities. They saw the Jews as competition, so they began to cause trouble, harassing them and doing everything in their power to demoralize and dissuade the Jews from accomplishing their God-given mission. At the close of chapter 3 of Ezra, the people are rejoicing because they had successfully laid the foundation of the Temple. But then chapter 4 opens up with the arrival of their adversaries. The work of God was immediately met with opposition by the enemies of God. “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” (Ezra 4:4-5 ESV). This would go on for years, spanning the reigns of Cyrus and Darius. But one of the things the people of God needed to remember was that God was in control. According to God’s divine timetable, this delay would be only for a little while. And while the efforts of their enemies would eventually result in the halt of all construction on the Temple, it would prove to be only a delay, not an end.

What does this passage reveal about God?

There are so many times in Scripture where it appears as if God’s people have lost. We are given countless examples of the seeming defeat of God and His people. But time and time again, we are shown that these apparent defeats are little more than delays in God’s divine plan. It is important to remember that the book of Ezra, like the books of 1st and 2nd Chronicles, was written to an audience who was living long after these events took place. These books were designed to be reminders of God’s sovereign power and His ultimate victory over their enemies. The Temple would eventually be rebuilt. The walls of Jerusalem would be restored. The city would be repopulated. And the enemies of God would be proven unsuccessful in their attempt to thwart His will. The writer of Hebrews was also addressing a predominantly Jewish audience, but made up of those who had accepted Jesus as their Messiah. They too were surrounded by enemies. They face opposition and oppression. They were children of God, but they were living under difficult circumstances. So the writer of Hebrews reminds them that they must remember that God was not done yet. The same Jesus in whom they had placed their faith for their salvation was sitting at the right hand of God. This Jesus had taken on human flesh “for a little while.” God had made him lower than the angels “for a little while.” He died and was buried, but only “for a little while.” But then He was crowned with glory and honor, and God put everything in subjection under His feet. It was essential that Jesus become a man “for a little while” so that He might die in man’s place. His death, while a blow to the hopes and dreams of the disciples, would prove to be temporary. Satan’s apparent victory would be short-lived, because Jesus rose again.   

What does this passage reveal about man?

We have limited vision. We can only see so far into the future and we are prone to judge our circumstances based on our limited perspective. But we must always remember that God is in control and that His plan is eternal, not temporary. God knew that the Temple would be rebuilt. It was part of His plan. He knew that the walls of Jerusalem would be restored. It was part of His plan. He knew that Jesus’ death was not permanent. It was part of His plan. But on the day that Jesus died, the disciples could only see that their Messiah and friend had died. Their hopes were dashed. Their future dreams were shattered. Even though Jesus had told them that He would rise again on the third day, they were unable to see past the painful reality of their circumstances. If only they could have understood that all of this was going to be but “for a little while.” God was not done yet. As men, our perspectives are often limited, but our God is not. He is always in control and His plan is always unfolding perfectly and precisely as He has arranged it. The seeming defeats and disappointments of this life are nothing more than a pre-planned delay. The opposition we find ourselves facing are little more than opportunities to watch God work. The enemies of the people of God thought they had won the day when they forced the halt of the rebuilding of the Temple. But little did they know that their victory would be short-lived. God would win the day and have His way. He always does.

How would I apply what I’ve read to my own life?

For a little while. I must remember that God is at work and that delays are not the same thing as defeat. In the end, God will be victorious. He wins. At this point in time, His Son is seated at His right hand in heaven. But only “for a little while.” There is a day coming when He will return. And while it may appear that the enemies of God are winning the day, we must never forget that God is not done yet. He will one day send His Son to the earth a second time, and when He comes, He will accomplish God’s divine plan once and for all. He will conquer sin and death completely. He will defeat the enemies of God and establish His Kingdom on earth. The rebuilding of the Temple was delayed, but only for a little while. Jesus died and was placed in a grave, but only for a little while. He sits on a throne in heaven, but only for a little while. “Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war.  His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems, and he has a name written that no one knows but himself. He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords” (Revelation 19:11-16 ESV).

Father, may I learn to patiently wait for Your will to be done. Help me to remember that in Your grand plan, all apparent delays are only for a little while. You cannot be stopped. Your plan cannot be defeated. Your will – will be done. Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men