Today’s reading: Nehemiah 4-6.
Nehemiah succeeded in leading the Jews to rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, but they encountered all sorts of opposition. The lesson for us today isn’t how to use all these forms of intimidation, but to recognize them so that we can be prepared for them and disarm them. Also, notice how Nehemiah didn’t just pray and leave everything in God’s hands, but whenever possible he added action to his prayers.
The opposition made fun of the Jews (4:2-3). The enemy began by mocking and insulting. It was psychological warfare, and words can hurt and demoralize. Nehemiah responded by calling on God for justice, and by building the wall.
They threatened to harm the Jews (4:11-12). When insults didn’t work, the opposition turned to threats. Nehemiah considered the danger and armed his people, organized them, and set a watch.
They pretended to negotiate (6:2). The offer of “peace talks” was really a trap to lure Nehemiah out in the open where he was an easy target. Nehemiah told them he was too busy to leave and meet them.
They spread lies (6:5-7). The opposition waged a campaign of false information. Rather than falling into despair, Nehemiah prayed that he and his people would be strengthened to complete the work.
They tried to discredit the leader (6:10-13). Weakening the general is an effective strategy. How many times have churches seen their pastor sidelined by Satan? Nehemiah was tempted to give in to fear and take advantage of his privileged position to protect himself, but he recognized the trap and avoided it. He did not lose his influential leadership.
Led by Nehemiah and protected by the LORD, the Jews accomplished the amazing feat of completing the wall around Jerusalem in 52 days. Even more remarkable, they did it despite tremendous opposition. Nehemiah wisely saw through the tactics of the enemy and was able to avoid their threats and traps. How is the enemy trying to trick and trap you today?
You half expected to read, “So we stopped building the wall, and answered Sanballat and Tobiah.” Not a bit of it. They kept to their work and let these two men scoff as they pleased. They built the wall half as high as they meant it to be ultimately; but they carried it all round, and joined it well together. If we cannot do all we would like to do, let us do what we can; and let us endeavor, as far as possible, to finish off the part that we do, waiting for better times to carry the walls higher. – Charles Spurgeon
Image by pazeamor on Flickr, CC by 2.0