Day 4 - Nehemiah 6:1-9
Fierce Commitment in Facing Opposition
There will continually be moments in our life where people, priorities, and projects pull us in different directions. These can easily become distractions and come in conflict with the work God has set for us. Check out how Nehemiah dealt with that conflict.
1 Now when it was reported to Sanballat, Tobiah, to Geshem the Arab and to the rest of our enemies that I had rebuilt the wall, and that no breach remained in it, although at that time I had not set up the doors in the gates, 2 then Sanballat and Geshem sent a message to me, saying, “Come, let us meet together at Chephirim in the plain of Ono.” But they were planning to harm me. 3 So I sent messengers to them, saying, “I am doing a great work and I cannot come down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and come down to you?” 4 They sent messages to me four times in this manner, and I answered them in the same way.
Nehemiah’s wall project was coming to a conclusion. In fact, it was so close to being finished that the only work left to be done was to hang the doors. This left his enemies in a position where they had to switch tactics from brute force to secretive fraud. In asking to meet with him, Nehemiah sees their deceptive plan for what it is and stands firm in his decision (4 times!) to do a “great work.”
We can learn from Nehemiah’s example that when we are called to do a “great work,” we must stay committed even when outside pressures would like us to do otherwise. This should place us in a space to ponder this question:
What great work/responsibility/duty do you need to stand firm in while under oppositional pressure?
The second part of this story provides the strategic thinking of those who sought to undermine Nehemiah and his response in their attempts to rattle his commitment to the task at hand. Let’s take a look:
5 Then Sanballat sent his servant to me in the same manner a fifth time with an open letter in his hand. 6 In it was written, “It is reported among the nations, and Gashmu says, that you and the Jews are planning to rebel; therefore you are rebuilding the wall. And you are to be their king, according to these reports. 7 You have also appointed prophets to proclaim in Jerusalem concerning you, ‘A king is in Judah!’ And now it will be reported to the king according to these reports. So come now, let us take counsel together.” 8 Then I sent a message to him saying, “Such things as you are saying have not been done, but you are inventing them in your own mind.” 9 For all of them were trying to frighten us, thinking, “They will become discouraged with the work and it will not be done.” But now, O God, strengthen my hands.
In an attempt to make Nehemiah fearful, he resorts to an action that is commonplace in this book, prayer. His plea during the end of v. 9 is twofold. He asks the Lord to renew his strength. If he is to be protected, he must stay strong. However, he also prays for his hands to be strengthened so that his work may prosper. He craves the aid of God, so that God may continue to gain glory in the midst of danger and confrontation.
It is important in the middle of challenges to ask God for what we cannot provide for ourselves. Only through him are we able to remain vigilant in the face of criticism, hostility, and disapproval. Consider asking this:
How can you ask God to protect you through trial and prosper his name through your “great work”?
Let us be reminded by Nehemiah that through the strength of God, we are able to stand firm when facing opposition.
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