Nehemiah 4             Dealing with opposition

 

People don’t remember how you lead they often remember how you deal with conflict and opposition. People watch how you react to things and people. Sometimes opposition pushes our buttons so much we either arch up and react badly or we retreat into ourselves and recoil from it.

New 4:14 b 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 homes.

We closed with 2 truths from Sanballats verbal tirade last week. The last of which was Nehemiahs initial response. 4 Hear, O our God, for we are despised.

The fact is that the entirety of chapter 4 deals with escalating threats and impending violence against the rebuilding work in Jerusalem. Remember the symbolism of this work, they are not just building a wall or a city boundary; ; rather they under Gods sovereign leading are reestablishing themselves as the called out and gathered people of God.

God is in the business of gathering to himself a people, to call by his name. They will come from all races tongues tribes and nations. They are called to be his people and display his character and nature to the world. This is more often communicated in terms of displaying Gods Glory. So its no wonder opposition arrises and it escalates as the wall rises out of the rubble so the level and intensity of the opposition rises.

This is a real and imminent threat first it was verbal and political. Neh 2:19-20.

Now the tension escalates… Neh 4: 1 Now when Sanballat heard that we were building the wall, he was angry and greatly enraged, and he jeered at the Jews. 2 And he said in the presence of his brothers and of the army of Samaria,

Sanballat has gathered troops around him and his posse. Then others get in on the act as well… 4: 7 But when Sanballat and Tobiah and the Arabs and the Ammonites and the Ashdodites heard that the repairing of the walls of Jerusalem was going forward and that the breaches were beginning to be closed, they were very angry. 8 And they all plotted together to come and fight against Jerusalem and to cause confusion in it.

This has real effects on the inhabitants of Jerusalem and the workers on the wall.

The work force is effectively halved as they post a guard day and night….

9 And we prayed to our God and set a guard as a protection against them day and night. and there spirits are depleted. Work that seemed attainable and guided by God now seems insurmountable and overwhelming… 10 In Judah it was said, The strength of those who bear the burdens is failing. There is too much rubble. By ourselves we will not be able to rebuild the wall.

They were verbally abused and physically and militarily intimidated…11.And our enemies said, They will not know or see till we come among them and kill them and stop the work.12 At that time the Jews who lived near them came from all directions and said to us ten times, You must return to us.

They are beginning to sound defeated and are listening to the opposition rather than to God. So Nehemiah the sharp leader he is points them back to God and he also takes steps to correct and stay off the opposition….13 So in the lowest parts of the space behind the wall, in open places, I stationed the people by their clans, with their swords, their spears, and their bows.14 And I looked and arose and said to the nobles and to the officials and to the rest of the people, 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 homes.

Nehemiah is dealing with opposition outside and depression within the ranks.

*How do you deal with opposition and conflict? Attack or retreat

*God and nehemiah are looking for a measured response.

Next week I will unpack 6 steps to dealing with opposition rather than having opposition deal to you.

Strong people are made by opposition like kites that go up against the wind.  Frank Harris

Success is not measured by what you accomplish, but by the opposition you have encountered, and the courage with which you have maintained the struggle against overwhelming odds. Orison Swett Marden

You can’t get around pain and opposition, but you can try to be joyful in the trial, and thank yourself for the trial, and thank God for the strength to get through it. Mary J. Blige

Man must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love. Martin Luther King, Jr.

“Man must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love.
Martin Luther King, Jr.”