“When Sanballat, Tobiah, and Geshem heard of it, they jeered at us and despised us and said, ‘What is this thing that you are doing? Are you rebelling?..’ When Sanballat and Tobiah, the Arabs, the Ammonites, and the Ashdodites heard that the repairing of the walls of Jerusalem was going forward.., they were very angry. 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... Now when Sanballat, 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.., Sanballat and Geshem sent to me, saying, ‘Come and let us meet together…’ But they intended to do me harm… They sent to me four times in this way… For this purpose he was hired, that I should be afraid… and sin, and so they could give me a bad name in order to taunt me.” Nehemiah 2:19; 4:7-9; 6:1-2,4,13
“Being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they… sailed to Cyprus. When they arrived at Salamis, they proclaimed the word of God in the synagogues… They came upon a certain magician, a Jewish false prophet… He was with the proconsul, Sergius Paulus, a man of intelligence, who summoned Barnabas and Saul and sought to hear the word of God. But Elymas the magician opposed them, seeking to turn the proconsul away from the faith. But Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked intently at him and said, ‘You son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, full of all deceit and villainy, will you not stop making crooked the straight paths of the Lord? And now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon you, and you will be blind and unable to see the sun for a time.’ Immediately mist and darkness fell upon him, and he went about seeking people to lead him by the hand. Then the proconsul believed, when he saw what had occurred, for he was astonished at the teaching of the Lord...
“When the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy and began to contradict what was spoken by Paul, reviling him... [They] incited the devout women of high standing and the leading men of the city, stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and drove them out of their district… And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.” Acts 13:4-12,45,50,52
In their obedience of faith, God’s people faced ongoing opposition. These heroes met it not in exasperation and weakness, but confidence and resolve, brandishing holy insight and spiritual power. They saw through the sharp dark edges to the joy before them, and persevered. When we are tempted to give up or in, to abdicate our ground of God’s promises to those who taunt and trip, would we look to these witnesses and take courage? (Hebrews 12:1-3)
As God’s children, we bear an indelible target for the enemy, who is intent on hitting it with all manner of noise and ploys to distract, discourage, and destroy us and our witness. It’s vital we understand his intent and recognize his wiles, then counter them with God’s power. We wield the Holy Spirit, and with Him a joy that is unshakable and truth that is transforming. (Genesis 3:1-5; John 8:32; 10:10; Ephesians 6:12-18)
Lord, help me stand firm and joyful in every spiritual attack. Yours is the victory! (1 Chronicles 29:11-13)