DAY 5 – NEHEMIAH 4:1-9

05Hear, O our God, for we are despised. Turn back their taunt on their own heads and give them up to be plundered in a land where they are captives. Do not cover their guilt, and let not their sin be blotted out from your sight, for they have provoked you to anger in the presence of the builders.

If Nehemiah were still around, I’d be asking to meet at Starbucks just to sit and pick his brain. The guy is deep with God, humble and brilliant in his execution. And if Jesus himself could join us…well, I’m just saying.

Bullies bully to cover their own insecurities. They think anger will protect them and plotting violence makes them tough. They thrive on the attention of their own crowd and banter in one up sarcastic words – mostly to each other. Bullies are actually weak precisely because their strength and bluster is all they’ve got. Their words nevertheless can still be a scratchy irritation to a life of faith.

Nehemiah spends exactly zero minutes addressing them. Instead he goes straight to God. This is where his insight is so remarkable. Though the offensive behavior is directed to them Nehemiah knows it is actually an affront to God, prompting God’s anger. In fact, the severity of his hopes for the mockers is pretty much in line with Jesus’ words for anyone who would cause even one of His children to stumble.  “If anyone should cause one of these little ones to lose his faith in me, it would be better for that person to have a large millstone tied around his neck and be drowned in the deep sea. “ Matt 18:5 GNT

Revisiting “their opposition” in light of its offense to God and His purposes, strengthened and encouraged the builders. Where the bullies hoped for confusion, Nehemiah helped the people reinforce their solidarity and faith in God’s purposes. Now, even more,the people had a mind to work.”

And we prayed to our God and set a guard as a protection against them day and night. This reminds me that the work of God is likely to come under attack – physical or emotional or both. In fact, just my life in Jesus is a work of God the Enemy may hope to confuse or delay. I have been given some spiritual armor from this passage:

  1. Make God my first refuge (pray). Do not engage in verbal battles with fools or bullies.
  2. Remember the work is God’s work. Opposition is really directed at Him and it makes Him angry.
  3. God does not take lightly the forces who would like to cause me to stumble. (Inversely, I should be careful not to be one who undermines another’s faith.)
  4. Ask God what “guards of protection” I should employ. Could be something physical or it could be the Holy Spirit guarding my thoughts.

One thought on “DAY 5 – NEHEMIAH 4:1-9

  1. The last passage made it sound so easy. This person did this part, this group did the other, a third finished off this section, etc. Bing, bang, boom. We are done. Go God.

    However, it is not all easy peasy lemon squeezy for those who follow God’s calling. (Isn’t that an annoyingly awesome phrase? I think so too.) There will always be some, whether few or many, who oppose the work of God. Thanks Satan. As if following God’s plan wasn’t hard enough, you have to bring the naysayers around to drag us down further. Awesome.

    The opposition may have a variety of reactions. Direct, physical action against God’s work is usually the easiest to recognize, but notice it was the last tactic mentioned in this passage. The first reaction was anger. Yet notice Sanballat did not give a reason for his anger. Instead, he quickly turned to the second knee jerk reaction – taunting. There is absolutely no truth to the phrase sticks and stone may break my bones, but words will never hurt me. A sharp tone is all it takes for me to feel hurt and demoralized. Taunts and harsh words just drag me down further.
    When we choose to follow Christ, we take up our cross and follow him. There is nothing easy about carrying a cross. It is heavy and unwieldly. Others will see us and question why we ever picked it up in the first place. They may taunt us for the cross we carry or even just the struggle we show in carrying it. There will always be those ready to tear us down for our decision. So each day we have to choose whether to pick it up again or give in to the opposition and walk away.

    Pray for strength to choose each day to follow Christ. And pray for others as they face that same decision each day. Everyone’s struggle is different. Some are worse than others. I know that the inconvenience I sometimes face when I choose to follow Christ in no way compares to the struggles of Christians in areas where persecution can end with beatings and death. I also know that the person down the street may face greater opposition than I. Therefore, as I pray for myself to be strengthened, I thank God for the privilege of living where I do and being who I am. I am one of the lucky ones.


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