Ezra, chapters 1-5

“So they set the altar up on its former site, despite their fear of the peoples of the surrounding lands, and they began offering up burnt sacrifices to Jehovah on it […]”
~Ezra 3:3

When remnants of the tribe of Judah were sent back to their motherland to rebuild Jerusalem, it was not without opposition.
Their neighbors in Samaria, to the north, were particularly aggressive in their effort to stop the reconstruction (Ezra 4:1-6).
However, the Jews were ready to embrace their religious customs despite their fear.
We may have the legal right to practice our beliefs, but often we must do so in divided households or among neighbors who openly criticize us.
In other places, our brothers’ practices are openly being shut down by government entities.
God’s people have successfully faced religious oppression time after time, so it is possible to stand up to one’s fear of man and do what is right.

1 Kings, chapters 15-17

“When Zimri saw that the city had been captured, he went into the fortified tower of the king’s house and burned the house down over himself, and he died.”~1 Kings 16:18

Zimri was a chief warrior, overseeing half the forces of Israel (1 Ki. 16:9).

He betrayed his king, slayed him, then sat on his throne (1 Ki. 16:10).

Zimri then proceeded to exterminate the entire house of his predecessor (1 Ki. 16:11)

Although this was in alignment with Jehovah’s prophecy, Zimri was not motivated by a desire to carry out God’s will (1 Ki. 16:1-3; 12).

He was an idol-worshiper and an opportunist, greedy for power, who, in a transient display of bravery, acted purely out of self-interest (1 Ki. 16:19,20).

A few days later, the ten-tribe nation of Israel opted to make another one of their army-chiefs king.

This new king’s name was Omri (1 Ki. 16:16).

Omri besieged the palace where Zimri was hiding himself (1 Ki. 16:17).

Up to that moment, Zimri had solely relied on his own power and not God’s.

Thus, it played out that he caved in to his fears and killed himself before his enemies could grab a hold of him.

How long did Zimri’s rule last?

Seven days.

Any satisfaction he had derived out of his corrupt actions was extremely short-lived.

Zimri’s actions are a lesson in loyalty and lack of faith.

1 Samuel, chapters 26-31

David was very distressed, because the men were talking of stoning him, for all the men had become very bitter over the loss of their sons and daughters. But David strengthened himself by Jehovah his God.
~1 Samuel 30:6

When David and his 600 men came home from pretending to ally with the Philistines, they found their village had been raided by Amalekites (1 Sam. 27:2; 29:9,10; 30:1-5).

Thus David faced a revolt from the men who had been very loyal up to that point.

Instead of fleeing, panicking, giving up, or attempting to eliminate the instigators, David “strengthened himself by Jehovah his God.”

After inquiring of Jehovah, he led his men to seek out their kidnapped families and they liberated them (1 Sam. 30:8,18,19).

This is an example of how hard it can be at times for our elders to carry out their roles in the congregation, since sooner or later they all have to make unpopular decisions and face the scrutiny of others.

Instead of becoming embittered or depressed, elders can take refuge in their strong relationship with Jehovah and continue to find joy in carrying out their ministry (Ps. 31:1).