Nehemiah 4 and 6 _opposition_ (Audio File for Download)
Here is the part of the series where we start to move fast. We are going to look at material contained in 2 chapters today. The Bulletin says chapters 4 and 5, but we are actually going to skip 5 and read six. The reason is because both 4 and 6 describe the opposition to Nehemiah’s work, and how he dealt with it. That is going to be the focus of our time this morning.
The Big Idea of this message is this: when God calls us to a task, there will certainly be opposition. There was opposition, to Nehemiah’s work, and there will be opposition to Gods work in your life, and to His work here at Emmaus. The good News is that God’s plans succeed, period.
Lets read the text and get into it.
So when you plan to do something, do you expect opposition? When you meet opposition, what is your typical response?
Well, what we are going to look at today is the three primary sources of opposition we will experience as we seek to live out what God has called us to do.
The three sources we need to expect opposition, they are The World, The Flesh and The Devil.
Lets look at each one. Then we will look at some tactics used by them, and how we are to respond.
The World (external opposition): This opposition is from people, or influences outside of you. The culture, or the people in your life who do not know Christ. The ones who want to drag you down through mockery, or ridicule, or even other means. We see the world effecting Nehemiah’s work in chapter 4:2-5 There Sandballat and his buddies are mocking the building of the wall, jeering at the Jews as they built. If you are following Christ, you will be mocked at some point. I remember when Bek and I were engaged and I was working construction. We did not kiss until our wedding day. Well when the guys I was working with found that out, it was open season on me.
The Flesh (internal opposition): This is illustrated by the nobles of the Tekoites. These were inhabitants of the city, people if Israel, but they would not stoop to serve the Lord and be a part of the rebuilding. In the same way, our flesh is at war with our spirit. We know many scriptures that speak to this truth. “The spirit is willing, but…?” We also have Tom’s favorite verse to read in Romans 7:22.
The Devil (spiritual opposition): The Devil is given many names in scripture. The Father of Lies, the accuser, the one who wants to steal, kill and destroy. Satan will use many different ways to try to disrupt the work of God. Many times spiritual opposition comes from thoughts that satan whispers to you soul. Condemnation, guilt, feelings of worthlessness. Especially if they come out of nowhere…
The strategies employed by these three sources can vary, we see several in the book of Nehemiah. The Nobles were proud, they felt they were better than the work God was asking them to do. Pride is often tied to the opposition we face when given a task from The Lord. Pride says, “I think I am overqualified for this task, isn’t there a better job for me?” It also can come from others when they tell you how much better they would do the task than you. Sandballat mocked the Jews work, and made fun of them, he lied about them, and said they wee going to rebel. He also just tried to distract them from the task at hand. All three of these sources of opposition may employ these means in their opposition, and we should be aware of them. They rarely work alone, Satan might exploit a weakness in your flesh by trying to tempt you at a certain time, or he may use an unbeliever to get at you. The point is not to try and discern what the source is, the point is to learn how to fight.
So how did Nehemiah treat the opposition he faced?
He ignored some: the Tekoite Nobles. There doesn’t seem to be a response to their pride mentioned. My guess is that they probably had to miss out on the satisfaction that they wee a part of God’s work.
He fought others: the Jews built with sword in hand
He stayed the course: When Sandballat sent for him 4 times, he said, “I am doing a great work, and I cannot come down.” He realized the purpose of the opposition was to try and stop the work, so he continued the work without stoping to address the opposition. You may have heard the saying that good is the enemy of the best. Wen God is calling you to do something, the most difficult opposition to face is being distracted from God’s best by other “good” things. Something that takes your time or energy from what God has clearly called you to do. You know the most valuable thing that God impressed on me this week at Kairos? I realized what I am called to do. Do you know what that is? Well, the reason that many of those men are in the place they are is because their fathers were not there for them when they should have been. The main takeaway I have from my time in prison is that I don’t ever want my children to take a backseat to lesser priorities. You must be sure of what God has called you to do so you don’t let yourself be distracted by other “good” things.
Take a minute and write down your first four priorities. Things you are sure God has called you to be or do…
We have opposition, the main sources are the world, the flesh and the Devil. They employ all types of strategies, but the opposition’s fate is sure.
The World: Jesus Said “Fear not, I have Overcome the world.”
The Flesh: Paul said, “who will save me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
The Devil: Revelation 19:11-21; 20:7-10. Even if you have trouble understanding the book of Revelation, you can see that Satan has a fate that is sealed.