February 17 I Sunday
“They all plotted together to come and fight against Jerusalem and stir up trouble against it.” —Nehemiah 4:8
Serving God is never about popularity but is about pleasing God and doing what we discern and believe to be His will. Throughout Scripture, building and battling, work and warfare often go hand in hand, and that is something we need to be prepared for.
During Nehemiah’s rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem, there were three methods of attack that took place. The first is derision or ridicule, which came when opposing forces surrounded Jerusalem. Nehemiah 4:1 says, “When Sanballat heard that we were rebuilding the wall, he became angry and was greatly incensed. He ridiculed the Jews…” Ridicule is designed to undermine both the work and the people of God. It is psychological bullying, which is often sufficient to stifle our spirits and our work.
Secondly, Nehemiah’s work was attacked with the threat of destruction. He says, “Also our enemies said, ‘Before they know it or see us, we will be right there among them and will kill them and put an end to the work’.” (Nehemiah 4:11). The stakes are upped from verbal abuse and ridicule to physical attack, which threatened to kill them. Such is the enmity of the evil one against God and His work all over the world.
The third area of attack is discouragement, which came from within Jerusalem. Nehemiah 4:10 says, “Meanwhile, the people in Judah said, ‘The strength of the labourers is giving out, and there is so much rubble that we cannot rebuild the wall’.” The temptation was to give up the work. Discouragement, especially induced by physical threat, can be not only paralyzing but can provoke fear and be the tipping point that brings defeat.
President Franklin Roosevelt, inaugurated in the Great Depression, said, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” Fear is contagious, and either it will destroy faith, or faith will destroy fear. Which do we see in the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem? Nehemiah gathers all the officials and labourers together and tells them, “Don’t be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome…” (Nehemiah 4:14).
The people listened, and in an astounding 52 days, the rebuilding of the gates and walls surrounding the entire city of Jerusalem was completed. There are times when we need to reawaken the vision we have received and bring God back to the forefront. The great and awesome God is on our side, and any resistance to His work becomes His business. Though the opposition may gain a little ground, it is God who gains the territory.
Prayer: Lord God, help me to overcome any resistance to Your work. Keep me always driven by my faith in You. Thank You, Lord.