Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Responding to opposition

Right after the response of prayer, the second response to opposition is to put our hearts into the work of God's kingdom.
 for the people worked with all their heart. (Nehemiah 4:6b)
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 our own work.(v15)
The people followed Nehemiah's example and his instructions, and they put their hearts into the work. I expect there was a pause while Nehemiah gave them their "marching orders" about being prepared for attacks, but they didn't jump down from the wall and go chase down the enemy. (Grin) They didn't allow the threats they heard to pull their focus onto other issues.
They just kept building.
And building.
Pretty soon, when the enemies came for their daily stop by the wall to mock the Jews, they had to "crane their necks" and were looking way up at them, instead of looking straight across at them, over the wall!
There are definitely times that we need to defend the faith. We need to refute false teachers. We need to defend sound doctrine after pointing out false doctrine. In Titus 1, Paul says that elders need to refute false doctrine and to "silence" those who are teaching falsehoods. But we must be careful that we don't get distracted -- our main purpose is to proclaim the gospel of our Lord, and to build His kingdom. Just like the workers on the wall, we need both our swords and our trowels. The reason for the sword is so we can continue to use the trowel.
We need to know our Bibles; we need apologetics. We must boldly hold and proclaim the truths of Jesus Christ; if we don't defend the faith, more people will go without knowing Jesus and more false teachings will infiltrate Christianity:
Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt compelled to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to God’s holy people. (Jude 1)
The latter do so out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. (Philippians 1:16)
It's our responsibility to defend the faith with the sword of God's Word; but let's be careful not to neglect the winning and building up of people as our main goal.
The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life,    and the one who is wise saves lives. (Proverbs 11:30)
On another front (remember, I told you that Nehemiah had a multi-pronged strategy!) after prayer and heartfelt work came vigilance . . . remember the old sayings, "Trust God and keep your powder dry!" and "Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition!"
Nehemiah set up a guard -- he knew that the enemy would not merely go away. Prayer is not a magic wand that makes all of our troubles disappear! It doesn't mean that we can ignore the enemy's threats. Or pretend they don't exist.
From that day on, half of my men did the work, while the other half were equipped with spears, shields, bows and armor. The officers posted themselves behind all the people of Judah 17 who were building the wall. Those who carried materials did their work with one hand and held a weapon in the other, 18 and each of the builders wore his sword at his side as he worked. But the man who sounded the trumpet stayed with me. (Nehemiah 4:16-18)
Nehemiah armed the workers AND posted guards around the clock. He even put in place a warning system:
Then I said to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people, “The work is extensive and spread out, and we are widely separated from each other along the wall. 20 Wherever you hear the sound of the trumpet, join us there. Our God will fight for us!” (v 19-20)
Wherever they heard the trumpet blown, they would rally to protect the workers there, as well as their families and the city. They even went so far as to be at the ready during the night hours:
So we continued the work with half the men holding spears, from the first light of dawn till the stars came out. 22 At that time I also said to the people, “Have every man and his helper stay inside Jerusalem at night, so they can serve us as guards by night and as workers by day.” 23 Neither I nor my brothers nor my men nor the guards with me took off our clothes; each had his weapon, even when he went for water. (v 21-23)
Nehemiah was keeping his eyes on the enemy. He was being an example for us of vigilance. . . .
If we heard that a dangerous lion had escaped from the local zoo, would we go out and play in our yards, or stroll nonchalantly through the nearby park? I don't think so. But many of us are oblivious at times to the dangers from the devil. Many believers ignore the risks as he prowls the earth like a lion:
Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. (I Peter 5:8)
Many believers have forgotten all about the armor of God (Ephesians 6). They hang out in questionable places with worldly friends. They let their kids watch garbage on cable television, and then when the kids are in bed, they turn to "adult" programming and let the filth inundate their minds. If we don't want to fall victim to the devil, we have to set up defenses against him - in advance! We need to make sure we block the filth from our lives and our homes. We need to spend time each day immersed in the Word of God. We also need a network of family in the Lord that can rally around us when the devil attacks.
Just as a side note, I've found it helpful to put two of my loved pastimes together of God's Word and stitching. I enjoy doing embroidery and handwork, and lately I have re-discovered the designs of a Christian sister in Australia. It helps me to focus on the verse or sentiment that I'm stitching, and I can think of verses or pray as a work.
Nehemiah and the workers responded to the opposition they experienced in positive and Biblical ways. We will finish our study tomorrow. . . .


  1. I have in my family tree my 3 x Gt Grandmother who stitched a sampler when she was 9 years old in 1834. I now have this sampler in my home behind glass. It is a precious testament to her young devotion to God and the delicacy of the stitching is a joy to behold. Of course after nearly 200 years it's looking rather delicate. Your final paragraph reminded me of it, so I went to read the words once again. One line says "Oh teach me what is good, teach me thyself". Nine years old and the daughter of a Cornish mariner! I know she would have copied it, but I cannot imagine a nine year old today having the patience to create such a thing!

  2. The writer above is correct. I can't imagine a nine year old doing that. They are busy thinking they are adults. I could write a blog about it.


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