Posts Tagged ‘opposition’

In Nehemiah chapter 4, we find the enemies of God’s people becoming increasingly angry.  The Jews have begun to rebuild their city walls and gates under the direction of Nehemiah, and have already made some significant strides in that work.  As soon as the neighboring Gentile rulers hear of their progress, their anger at these people becomes even more intense.

In verse 1 we find Sanballat, the governor of Samaria, become enraged and begin to mock and jeer at the Jews.  He tells everyone he knows including his army about the work of the Jews and pokes fun at them.  Funny how he tells everyone what a crappy job these guys are doing and how their wall isn’t strong enough for even a fox to stand on, yet he is angry about their progress.  Well, which is it?  Why would the ruler of an army be mad about a bunch of fools who aren’t accomplishing anything?  Apparently this guy was insecure and afraid that the Jews were indeeding succeeding…which they were, by the way.  He was jealous and angry so he set out to stop them anyway he could.  What he didn’t know was that he couldn’t stop them because this was God’s work.

Nehemiah realizes what is happening with his enemies and he prays.  He prays a curse on them and he continues to do exactly that which God gave him to do.

Nevertheless, Sanballet and his big, bad temper decides to try to pick a fight with these guys.  He calls on all his ruler friends to help him cause confusion and problems for God’s people.

Again Nehemiah and the Jews pray.  This time they pray day and night for protection against their enemies.

In verses 10-12 we see the odds stacked against the Jews.  They didn’t think they could accomplish the job.  Their enemies didn’t think they could accomplish the job, and just in case they could, they were doing all they could to make sure of it.  Even their friends urged them “ten times” to stop trying.  This is a sad scene for God’s people!

Good thing they had a good leader who was resolved to do what God sent him to do.  Nehemiah gave the people each specific positions with their families and their weapons, and he encouraged them to remember God and fight with honor for the things that are most important: God; family; community; home.

What do you do when you have a really hard job to accomplish?  When the enemy is mocking and making war against your success?  When you doubt your own ability to succeed and everyone is telling you to quit?  Consider what Nehemiah did.

  1. Nehemiah prayed.  If you know that what you’re doing is God’s will and God’s holy work for you, pray for help and protection in it.
  2. Nehemiah organized his people and his plan.  He put groups of families together in order to strengthen their morale and give them confidence.  If you are working for the Lord, don’t work alone.  Get organized and find a group of people who love and support, and help you and always have your defenses in hand.  Our weapons are the sword of the Spirit, the Word, and the promises of God.
  3. Nehemiah reminded the people to remember whose idea this work was.  He told them to remember God.  He wanted them to remember to trust God and to know that he was the one behind this plan so they would not doubt or get discouraged in the hardships.  When God’s work gets hard and you come up against obstacles and enemies, it is always helpful to remember whose work it really is.  When we are doing God’s work and God’s will, we have nothing to fear because Our God is trustworthy.  Remember that.  When we remember that, we also remember that there is great honor in striving, working, and fighting hard for the things that matter, namely, God’s glory, the good of our families and communities, and our homes.If you are leading a group of people like this one, pray, organize, and encourage them in the Lord.  This is a great model to follow in difficult circumstances…or any circumstances!  If you are part of a group like this one, pray, organize, and encourage yourself and others in the Lord.

    Pray.  Organize.  Encourage yourself and others in the Lord.  This is the way to defeat the Enemy.

    “…Do not be afraid of them.  Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your homes.”  ~Nehemiah 4:14


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In Nehemiah chapter 2, we find Nehemiah arriving in Jerusalem with army officers and horsemen sent with him by the king.  Clearly, Nehemiah had great favor and protection from the royal court being sent off with such an entourage.

When Nehemiah arrives, the first men he encounters are the governors of the neighboring areas.  Sanballat was the governor of Samaria, the area north of Judah, and Tobiah was the governor of Ammon, the area east of Judah.  Just seeing Nehemiah show up was enough to arouse jealousy and disgust in these men.  They did not want to see anyone help the people living in Jerusalem and they hated Nehemiah from first glance.

Nehemiah stays in Jerusalem three days before going out to assess the wall.  He does not announce his arrival or share his plans with anyone.  He acclaimates himself to the area for three days and then goes out at night by himself to inspect the wall and consider what he will have to do to repair it properly.  No one knew or saw Nehemiah do this.

It is always important, anytime we are starting a new project – especially if we are leading it – to consider what must be done and how we might be able to accomplish it before hauling off and making any announcements about what needs done or asking for help to do it.  If we don’t know what’s in store and what’s necessary, how will those who agree to help and follow us know what to do or where to start?  Having a good understanding of what and how we need to do a project is essential to its success as well as our success at being a good leader.

After Nehemiah considers the state of his country and what needs to be done to correct it, he addresses the people living there.  He asks them to consider the damage and asks them to help him rebuild the walls and the gates.  He reassures them that God’s hand is on him and that he has been given much favor with the king.

When the people heard Nehemiah’s words, they cheered and agreed to help build with him.  One question we might ask is why had none of them sought to do this work previously?  They saw the ruins every single day.  They lived there; Nehemiah didn’t.  Yet Nehemiah’s heart was burdened to take action and theirs was just burdened.

God burdens our hearts not so that we might walk around melancholy and negative about our circumstances, but so that we might work towards solutions and be a help, a comfort, and a leader in them.  There’s a big difference between a person who is burdened with the problems they are facing and a person who is burdened to take action regarding those problems.

Notice how Nehemiah makes certain that the people know that God’s hand was with him and them for this project.  When you know God is with you and behind the work you are doing, it stirs up confidence and morale in completing it.

Finally, when the neighboring governors heard Nehemiah’s plans, the text says they jeered, despised, and slandered Nehemiah and God’s people.  They accused them of treason which couldn’t be further from the truth.  It was quite obvious the king had sent these men and they had the army officers, the horsemen, and the papers to prove it.  Yet some will do and say anything they can to hinder and hate those of whom they are jealous.

Nehemiah answers their ridiculous statements with the truth.  He says this:

“The God of heaven will make us prosper, and we his servants will arise and build, but you have no portion or right or claim in Jerusalem.” ~Nehemiah 2:20

Firstly, haters, God is behind this project and he is going to make us prosper.  Secondly, we are going to do what God told us to, which is stand up strong and rebuild our walls.  Thirdly, you don’t belong here and you have no authority here.  This is God’s land and God’s business, not yours.

Wow!  What a great reminder of how confident we can be in the face of those who hate and despise us out of jealousy.  This is what a strong leader who is surrendered to God’s will is able to say to those who try to destroy and tear down God’s work.  Because, sometimes, even when you have permission from the highest authority (God), men will hate you, hate what you’re doing, and do all they can to stop your good and noble efforts.  Here is your reminder not to let them.  Amen and amen!

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