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“The ‘adversaries’ mentioned in verse 1 of chapter 4 were people from various places who had been transplanted into Samaria, the area north of Judah, after the destruction of the northern kingdom of Israel in 722 B.C. They were a mixed multitude, who worshipped many gods and incorporated worship of the Lord into their polytheism. As such they represented the syncretistic approach to worship which had led to the corruption and judgment of God’s people in the first place. Their participation in the reconstruction of worship, therefore, would have resulted in compromise and their influence would have tended to encourage a blend of man-made elements with the commanded ordinances of God. When they were excluded from the work , they determined to oppose the people of Judah and to discourage them in their labors. This opposition reveals the self-serving attitude of their hearts-if we can’t add our bit to worship, then we will make your life difficult.

An important principle is illustrated here. Those who determine, in obedience to God’s word, to labor for the restoration of true worship will find it necessary to exercise discernment in the case of those who seek to join with them in their work. Pragmatists and compromisers, who see no problem with adding a few human innovations to the worship of God, cannot be allowed to influence the work of reformation. It is sometimes necessary to separate even from professed friends of the Church if they are manifestly opposed to the pure worship of God. If they are told that their compromising tendencies can have no place in the restoration of the Church, those who do not repent and embrace the truth may set out to discourage the work, but their success-like that of Ezra’s adversaries- will be temporary and limited.

In time, all true friends of God will be drawn to His pure worship.” (Comin, 154-155)

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