In our study of Ezra chapter four, we look at the opposition that God's people faced when they obeyed God and started to rebuild His temple. We will see how this opposition took three different forms (infiltration, intimidation and legislation) and the same pattern occurs in God's work today.
"When the enemies of Judah and Benjamin heard that the exiles were building a temple for the Lord, the God of Israel, they came to Zerubbabel and to the heads of the families and said, 'Let us help you build because, like you, we seek your God and have been sacrificing to him since the time of Esarhaddon king of Assyria, who brought us here.'" NIV translation
The "enemies" that this passage refers to is speaking about the Samaritans who had mixed with the northern tribes of Israel. These people heard about what God was doing and wanted to join in on the party. They even tried to identify themselves as brothers with the remnant that was in Jerusalem doing the building by saying that they offered sacrifices to God. This same pattern is in effect today with God's people and His work. When God's work gets to really going, the devil tries to get his people involved (infiltration). Satan tries to stop the work from within the group of workers.
"But Zerubbabel, Jeshua and the rest of the heads of the families of Israel answered, 'You have no part with us in building a temple to our God. We alone will build it for the Lord, the God of Israel, as King Cyrus, the king of Persia, commanded us.'" NIV translation
God's Spirit was at work and the leaders of the remnant rejected this offer of cooperation. They recognized the fact that these people were not, in fact, serving God because it was not proper for them to be offering sacrifices outside of Jerusalem. The same method can be used by God's people today in determining who we should work with in the ministry. We are to test the spirit to see if it is from God (see 1 John 4). If the spirit is of God, it will agree with the words of God.
"Then the people around them set out to discourage the people of Judah and make them afraid to go on building. They hired counselors to work against them and frustrate their plans during the entire reign of Cyrus king of Persia and down to the reign of Darius king of Persia." NIV translation
When God's people would not let them take part in the work, then, they set about trying to stop the work. They tried intimidation by using people and popular opinion to stop them. The same type of thing happens, today, when we listen to God and do His will.