Rebuilding the Walls (Facing Opposition)
When Nehemiah arrived in Judah, opposition met him head on. Opposition to the rebuilding of Jerusalem had been an ongoing issue for 90 years by the people who had settled in the area when the Jews were taken captive. In each generation, unfortunately there are those who are haters of ALMIGHTY GOD. These people allow themselves to be used by Satan in attempts to but a halt to the work of the LORD. When Gods children try to do the will of God and do the work He has called us to do, like Nehemiah we will face opposition from the enemy in attempts to make us fail. In this lesson today I want us to look at the opposition Nehemiah and the builders faced, and know that we too will face opposition. We can learn from the word of God and be ready and prepared to do what we must do to be conquerors. If God be for us, who can be against us!
Handout: Rebuilding the Walls
Teacher's Guide: Rebuilding the Walls
Let us go to Nehemiah chapter 4 verse 7 in God’s word to begin this lesson.
Nehemiah 4:7 “7 But when Sanballat, Tobiah, the Arabs, the Ammonites and the men of Ashdod heard that the repairs to Jerusalem's walls had gone ahead and that the gaps were being closed, they were very angry. 8 They all plotted together to come and fight against Jerusalem and stir up trouble against it.”
Sanballat was governor of Samaria, the region just north of Judea, where Jerusalem was located. Perhaps Sanballat had hopes of becoming governor of Judah as well, however the arrival of Nehemiah spoiled his plans. We first read about Sanballat and Tobiah in chapter 2 when Nehemiah first arrived in Jerusalem. They opposed him from the very beginning!
Nehemiah 2:10 “When Sanballat the Horonite, and Tobiah the servant, the Ammonite, heard of it, it grieved them exceedingly that there was come a man to seek the welfare of the children of Israel.”
There are several possible reasons why Sanballat and Tobiah, who were government officials of nearby Samaria, were so disturbed by the arrival of Nehemiah and his small group of exiles. The first possibility is because in the past, the exiles had refused to accept help from the Samaritans and it had caused a bad relationship between the two. (Ezra 1 and 2) The second possibility could be that Nehemiah was not like the other exiles. He was the King’s personal assistant. He was cup bearer of the King. They knew that Nehemiah had the approval of the King to build and fortify Jerusalem. If anyone could rebuild Jerusalem, Nehemiah could! The rebuilding of Jerusalem was a threat to the authority of the Samaritan officials who had been in charge since the exile of Judah. Another possibility of why these men opposed Nehemiah and his work could be that Nehemiah’s group was the third group to return from exile. The population was increasing as more and more exiles returned and this made Sanballat and Tobiah angry. They did not want the exiles to return and taking back the land because this was a threat to their secure positions.
Nehemiah 4:1-3 “1But it came to pass, that when Sanballat heard that we builded the wall, he was wroth, and took great indignation, and mocked the Jews. 2And he spake before his brethren and the army of Samaria, and said, What do these feeble Jews? will they fortify themselves? will they sacrifice? will they make an end in a day? will they revive the stones out of the heaps of the rubbish which are burned? 3Now Tobiah the Ammonite was by him, and he said, Even that which they build, if a fox go up, he shall even break down their stone wall.
Opposition 1 – Ridicule
Satan’s ultimate goal is to stop the work of God. If he can do that then his work is complete. He doesn’t waste his time on those who are not a threat to him! His tactics are to first start with outside opposition and try to weaken our emotions and our defenses so that he can get on the inside. He wants to cause oppression and strong holds in our lives so that we are so busy with those things, the work God has called us to do is put on hold. Satan knows that opposition can never become oppression as long as it does not get on the inside of those walls! So he will begin to get inside before the walls are built up strong.
He knows our insecurities and he will harp on those over and over trying to weaken our walls and our defenses. He did the same with Jesus. They mocked and ridiculed Him as He stood to do the work that the Father had called Him to do. Those who have no walls, and who are weak spiritually can fall prey to this tactic. Are you being ridiculed? Are there those people around you that seem so negative about everything you do and who think that you will never amount to anything in the Lord? Know this Beloved, you can stand strong with confidence. Not in yourself but in the LORD JESUS. It doesn’t matter what others say about you. The Truth is, YOU are what God says you are!
This ridicule from Sanballat and Tobiah did not stop Nehemiah and his builders.
Nehemiah 4:4-6 “4Hear, O our God; for we are despised: and turn their reproach upon their own head, and give them for a prey in the land of captivity: 5And cover not their iniquity, and let not their sin be blotted out from before thee: for they have provoked thee to anger before the builders. 6So built we the wall; and all the wall was joined together unto the half thereof: for the people had a mind to work.”
Nehemiah and the builders were wise and they automatically went to God in prayer about this matter, and they kept right on working! They had determination in their hearts that they were going to continue this work that they had been called to do!
Like Nehemiah, we must turn to the LORD when Satan comes at us with these fiery darts. Satan will attack you personally, he will attack your family, he will attack anything he can to try to hinder the plans God has for you! However we must press on. Going to God in prayer and having a mind to work and determination to go on even in the midst of oppression.
When Sanballat and Tobiah saw that their ridicule did not stop Nehemiah, they went to their next plan.
Nehemiah 4:7-8 “7But it came to pass, that when Sanballat, and Tobiah, and the Arabians, and the Ammonites, and the Ashdodites, heard that the walls of Jerusalem were made up, and that the breaches began to be stopped, then they were very wroth, 8And conspired all of them together to come and to fight against Jerusalem, and to hinder it.”
Now these two evil men have allied together with other of Jerusalem’s enemies and planned an attack to stop the rebuilding of the wall! Satan did not want this wall to go up. He did not want Jerusalem to be fortified and my friend he does not want you to be strengthened and fortified by building up your spiritual walls either! He will plan full out attacks and he will go through with them with a vengeance. However, we can war against him by putting on the whole armor of God that is spoken of in Ephesians 6, and we can hold up our shield of faith and use our swords of the Spirit whish is the word of God!
Nehemiah 4:9 “9Nevertheless we made our prayer unto our God, and set a watch against them day and night, because of them.”
Again, Nehemiah and the builders were wise and turned to God in prayer. God helped them come up with a plan of actions against the opposition. In reading the rest of Nehemiah chapter 4, we find that they had some people appointed as guards to watch for the enemy so that they could not just come and overtake them yet again. We must set up a watch for the enemy so that he does not catch us off guard with his fiery darts of temptation that is to stop the rebuilding of our spiritual walls. We must be watchful and wise praying for wisdom that only our Father can give.
Mark 14:38 “Watch ye and pray, lest ye enter into temptation. The spirit truly is ready, but the flesh is weak.
Nehemiah 4:15 “ 15 When our enemies heard that we were aware of their plot and that God had frustrated it, we all returned to the wall, each to his own work.”
THE WORK MUST GO ON!
Nehemiah 4:16- 21 “ 16And it came to pass from that time forth, that the half of my servants wrought in the work, and the other half of them held both the spears, the shields, and the bows, and the habergeons; and the rulers were behind all the house of Judah.17They which builded on the wall, and they that bare burdens, with those that laded, every one with one of his hands wrought in the work, and with the other hand held a weapon.18For the builders, every one had his sword girded by his side, and so builded. And he that sounded the trumpet was by me.19And I said unto the nobles, and to the rulers, and to the rest of the people, The work is great and large, and we are separated upon the wall, one far from another.20In what place therefore ye hear the sound of the trumpet, resort ye thither unto us: our God shall fight for us.21So we laboured in the work: and half of them held the spears from the rising of the morning till the stars appeared.”
If we are going to be as Nehemiah and finish the work God has called us to do, we must be ready to face opposition. However, when it comes we must not get distracted. God allows opposition for a reason, we must keep building and rebuilding for the LORD JESUS CHRIST. We are His servants. Like the people in Nehemiah 4:6, we must have determination, and a mind to work. We must set our sights on our Father and what He wants us to do and then do it. Jesus is our example. No other man met with opposition the way that Christ did, yet He stayed focused on the plan and the task and He fulfilled His destiny.
Nehemiah chose to be wise and just ignore the ridicule of his enemies and just keep on building. He understood that what God wanted him to do was more important than what his enemies said about him. Christ went through this as well. He did not let it stop Him, and we must not let it stop us. That same power that raised Christ from the dead is in us and will quicken our mortal bodies. We can do all things through Christ.
Isaiah 53:7 “He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth: He is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so He openeth not His mouth.”
Romans 8:11 “But if the Spirit of Him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, He that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by His Spirit that dwelleth in you.”
He prayed for them. We must turn to God in prayer when opposition rises against us and know that God will fight our battles and that the work must continue! We will be the victors and the walls will be rebuilt. Greater is He that is in us, than he that is in the world. (1 John 4:4)
We must let Him fight our battles because they are His to fight and win!
1 Samuel 17:47 “For the battle is the LORD’S, and He will give you into our hands.”
Psalm 24:8 “Who is this King of glory? The LORD strong and mighty, the LORD mighty in battle.”
Romans 8:31 “What shall we say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?”
Dear Righteous, Heavenly Father,
Thank You for another wonderful day that You have made and allowed and blessed us to enjoy. Help us to be glad in it. Father we bow before You today thanking You for all the many blessings in our lives and we ask today Dear Lord that You help us when the enemy comes against us. We pray for discernment and wisdom and patience to wait upon You Lord and to allow You to fight our battles for us! We love You LORD and we worship You. Thank You for Your love, mercy and grace. Thank You for hearing and answering our cries. In Your name we pray. Amen.