OVERCOMING OPPOSITION

– Jesus: Our Restorer of All That Is Broken (Part 3) 

OVERCOMING OPPOSITION

(Nehemiah 4)

Jesus, our restorer, wants us to thrive in His PRESENCE, knowing He is with us always. Earlier we saw that God will restore the broken areas and the ruins in our lives if we follow Him. To follow Him we must take the first steps: (1) Read God’s Word, (2) Obey God’s Word, and (3) Pray and worship the Lord.

However, you can rest assured that if you read and obey God’s word, and even if you pray and worship the whole day through, opposition will come. Nehemiah and the exiles experienced this. We will too. The exiles thrived despite the opposition; it actually made them stronger and demonstrated God’s power to their enemies.

Mental Opposition: Ridicule
As the exiles made progress in rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem, their work was ridiculed. When a regional governor heard the exiles were rebuilding the wall, “he became furious and very angry and mocked the Jews.  He spoke in the presence of his brothers and the wealthy men of Samaria and said, ‘What are these feeble Jews doing? Are they going to restore it for themselves? Can they offer sacrifices? Can they finish in a day? Can they revive the stones from the dusty rubble even the burned ones?’ Now [another regional governor],  was near him and he said, ‘Even what they are building – if a fox should jump on it, he would break their stone wall down’” (Nehemiah 4:1-3).

Response: Prayer and Persevering through Discouragement
What people say can hurt. Being despised was discouraging and the ridicule demoralized the wall builders. However, they turned to God in prayer and overcame their discouragement. (See Nehemiah 4:4). And then, they continued to build the wall because the people had a mind to work.

When discouraged we have a choice. We have to decide whose words will have the power to affect us. The exiles made a conscious choice to seek God in prayer and to continue with their work. Prayer helped them focus on the situation from God’s perspective, which changed their thinking.

Escalating Opposition: Physical Aggression
As we respond in faith despite discouragement, opposition often intensifies. It did for the Israelite exiles. When their enemies heard that the work on the wall continued, they conspired to physically fight against Jerusalem and put a stop to the work. As this became known in Jerusalem fear intensified.

Response: Facing Fear with Faith and Wise Preparation
Fear is contagious and it paralyzes. Nehemiah addressed the fear he observed. He told the exiles, “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 houses” (v. 14). The exiles responded in faith, prepared to fight, and continued rebuilding. The wall was completed. The enemy saw that the Lord frustrated their plans and eventually lost their confidence and recognized the work had been completed with the help of God.


INTEGRATING TRUTH INTO EVERYDAY LIFE

The book of Nehemiah contains detailed descriptions of the type people that surrounded the prophet. This is a perfect snapshot of the culture in which you and I live.

There were:

  1. Worriers (“hand-wringers”)
  2. Worms  (“trouble-makers” – Sanballat and Tobiah , the regional governors)
  3. Wimps (“never-risk-anything”)
  4. Wall builders
  5. Warriors

Which one are you?

When “the joy of the Lord is our strength …” we will be WALL BUILDERS and WARRIORS.

 

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