Ezr 3:3 NLT Even though the people were afraid of the local residents, they rebuilt the altar at its old site. Then they began to sacrifice burnt offerings on the altar to the LORD each morning and evening.
After approximately 70 years of Babylonian captivity, the Israelites were released to return to Jerusalem by Cyrus of Persia following the Persian Empires defeat of the Babylonians. They were terrified of being religiously persecuted, yet they were determined to follow God’s Word and restore worship in Jerusalem. Having just came out of bondage in a nation where they were persecuted and enslaved because of their beliefs and being aware that the other people dwelling in their land who worshipped idols of other gods would not like worship of the God of Israel to resume, they were greatly afraid of attack. Their cities were not fortified and they had very limited tools let alone weapons to defend themselves with, yet they were determined to follow after God and worship Him.
These men and women are a great example of determination and faith. Though they feared for their lives, they stood up for their convictions. Fear will attempt to get you to back off of your convictions and what you believe and more assuredly, what the Word of God teaches. In life there are preferences and there are principles. In many circumstances we negotiate our preferences to reach an amicable outcome; however, fear will try to get you to abandon your Godly principles and specifically ignore His direction for us to follow.
If you’ve ever been at a restaurant, in the break room, or at a business luncheon and got nervous at the prospect of whether or not you should say a prayer thanking the Lord for His provision and bless the food, then you have encountered a form of this very fear the people of Israel faces in Ezra 3. Are you willing to compromise your convictions over a hamburger? I should hope not. Now I’m not saying it’s a sin if you don’t bless your food, but if you are sitting there trying to decide if you should bless your food at that meal or not because of others… your conviction is already speaking for you and the question is will you be bold or give into your fear.
Praying for ones meal in public sounds trite, but the principle is the point. If your neighbors are offended about you going to church or the Christian music you are playing while working in your garage, or a law is passed that says you can’t mention the name of Jesus in public now what will you do. The Israelites faith was strengthened as they began and continued to diligently worshiped the Lord and ignored the pressures of the world to cease. Despite much political and physically pressure and threats they won out because they were unmoved by fear and simply did what was right and their duty as Jews. Stand strong, do what is right, allow God to strengthen your resolve and Fear Not, God is on your side.