The first steps out of the relative security of the city of Susa must have been hard ones to take. Nehemiah, now carrying official documents and passports provided through the personal signature of the King, moved on toward his destination: Jerusalem. Nehemiah 2:11, tells us through Nehemiah’s personal journal that he was there “three days.” This in all likelihood was his first personal visit to the city and his first moment of true exploration of the reality and enormity of the task.
It could not be done alone. As he walked and camped around the city, probably drawing diagrams and projecting material needs, he perhaps wondered how a labor force could be gathered to accomplish the work. But where God guides, God provides. But it was in that three day period that he first encountered a reality that would follow him throughout the project: opposition.
Nehemiah encountered two men named Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite. We are told in the Bible that “they were deeply disturbed that a man had come to seek the well-being of the children of Israel.” (Nehemiah 2:10) The first encounter of opposition for Nehemiah was with two officials who were threatened by Nehemiah’s desire to rebuild the city.
We can expect that whenever a God-driven, Spirit-led plan is put into place, the Enemy will seek to frustrate that plan. It threatens his hold on people when the Kingdom comes. He operates best in the dominion of broken walls and broken lives. His power is greatest when people are “in distress and turmoil.” (Nehemiah 1:3) But his grip is lost when redemption appears; when hope returns; when God’s promises become reality in people’s lives.
But we can expect to incur Satan’s wrath whenever we move by faith into territory with an intention to redeem and restore that which the enemy has captured. Don’t be surprised lonely missionary family, when opposition surrounds you. Your presence brings the Kingdom to bear in occupied territory. Don’t be discouraged church planter, when you feel like the only Christians in the urban center where God has placed you. The Kingdom is coming through you! Don’t be distressed pastor, when the church pews are not filled to overflowing on Sundays. The kingdom is coming in power through your testimony of quiet persistence. And the enemy will stay busy to frustrate you.
Nehemiah did not enter the city alone. He was surrounded by “captains and kings of the army” sent by King Artaxerxes himself. And when you move to your assignment; when you fly the banner of the King in the face of the broken walls and broken lives around you, know that you are not alone. The captain of the Lord’s army and His horsemen accompany you as well! Jesus said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you….”
…even when opposition comes.
FOR MEDITATION: So it pleased the king to send me… and I set him a time. Nehemiah 2:6
FOR REFLECTION: How can opposition in our lives be interpreted as the enemy trying to stop our forward movement? Usually this is true: if we are walking in the path and plan God has set for us, opposition is evidence that we are on the right path! On the other hand, to move in what we believe to be God’s direction and not encounter opposition may be a sign that we have set off on our own path! While these statements cannot be absolute, the tendency will be for this to be true. Don’t resent opposition… it may just be evidence that your walk is right where God wants you to be!