“We Have No Common Interests”

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Picture of yoked oxen

In today’s Bible reading* the people returning from Babylon run into opposition to their charge to rebuild the Temple. The people who had remained in the land offered to help with the construction and those returning responded, “No thanks. We have no common interests with you in rebuilding the temple.” (Ezra 4:3)

Why would the returning Jews refuse help? Remember, the people who had been exiled to Babylon were released by Cyrus for the purpose of building the temple to worship God. The people who had remained in the land continued to mix the worship of God with the worship of idols. The returning Jews rejected the “help”, knowing that it would only compromise the worship of God.


Sure, it would have made rebuilding the temple easier. Having more hands would have made the work easier. And if it weren’t for the “Cease and Desist” order given by King Artaxerxes (Ezra 4:21-23), the temple could have been rebuilt quicker. Instead, they were delayed sixteen years.

But the returning Jews knew that God didn’t want them to be unequally yoked with people who didn’t see God the same way that they did. After all, God had exiled the people because they mixed idolatry and worship of God. (2 Kings 17:29, 32–34, 41) Paul knew that light and darkness have no common interests.

Do not be yoked together with those who do not believe.
For what partnership is there between righteousness and lawlessness?
Or what fellowship does light have with darkness?

2 Corinthians 6:14 (CSB)

In other words, be careful in making deals with people who have no common interests with you.

* Chapters covered in today’s reading:
Ezra 4
Ezra 5
Ezra 6

This devotional was originally published on September 18, 2021.

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