Relentless Opposition, Persistent Resistance

Now when Sanballat heard that we were building the wall, he was angry and greatly enraged, and he jeered at the Jews. And he said, ‘What are these feeble Jews doing? Will they restore it for themselves? Will they finish up in a day? Will they revive the stones out of the heaps of rubbish, and burned ones at that?’ Tobiah the Ammonite was beside him, and he said, ‘Yes, what they are building—if a fox goes up on it he will break down their stone wall!’ Hear, O our God, for we are despised… So we built the wall… But when Sanballat and Tobiah and the Arabs and the Ammonites and the Ashdodites heard that the repairing of the walls of Jerusalem was going forward, they were very angry. And they all plotted together to come and fight against Jerusalem and to cause confusion in it. And we prayed to our God and set a guard as a protection against them day and night.

In Judah it was said, ‘The strength of those who bear the burdens is failing. There is too much rubble. By ourselves we will not be able to rebuild the wall.’ And our enemies said, ‘They will not know or see till we come among them and kill them and stop the work.’ At that time the Jews came from all directions and said to us ten times, ‘You must return to us.’ And I said to the nobles and officials and the rest of the people, ‘Do not be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your [families], and your homes.’ We all returned to the wall, each to his work…

“Now when Sanballat and Tobiah and Geshem and the rest of our enemies heard that I had built the wall and that there was no breach left in it, [they] sent to me, saying, ‘Come and let us meet together in the plain of Ono.’ But they intended to do me harm. And I sent messengers to them, saying, ‘I am doing a great work and I cannot come down.’ And they sent to me four times in this way, and I answered them in the same manner. They all wanted to frighten us, thinking, ‘Their hands will drop from the work, and it will not be done.’ But now, O God, strengthen my hands.” Nehemiah 4:1-4,6,7-12,14-15; 6:1-4,9

Anger, rage, taunting, mocking, whining, threatening, distracting… opposition from without and within pelted Nehemiah from the start of his rebuilding Jerusalem’s wall, and he never got ruffled, never veered off-course. He said “oh, no” to Ono and every other distraction and temptation. He stayed focused on the work God had given him to do, and encouraged his co-laborers that God was awesome and their cause worthwhile. He responded when appropriate, like renouncing false accusations, and he knew when to keep quiet and pray; and pray he did. (Nehemiah 6:5-8)

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When the enemy is relentless in my life, do I fluster, get chafed and defensive, fret in fear, play victim, deviate, give up? Or do I keep to task, emboldened with the truth that “He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.” Oh, to be a Nehemiah! (1 Thessalonians 5:24)

Father, when I face an onslaught of opposition, may I walk before You and be blameless, stay beside You to be strengthened, and follow You as my Shield and Guide, that all perceive that my resistance has been accomplished with the help of You my God. (Genesis 17:1; Nehemiah 6:16)

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