Leadership can be good or bad. Often it is both at once. If the last part of Nehemiah Chapter 2, teaches us anything, it’s that the enemy of our souls is not going to let us linger in victory for long. He will seek to remove our joy, our peace, our celebration from us as quickly as he can. Nehemiah had surveyed the devastation of Jerusalem, had planned for almost half a year, secured permission for a building permit from the king, met with the leadership of Jerusalem and the key people of the city and convinced them of the need and of their ability to do what was needed to rebuild the crumbled walls.
And then, almost immediately, upon the heels of his rallying speech and the affirmation, “let us rise up and build” and before they could together “set their hand to this good work,” three characters appeared to oppose the effort. Sanballat, Tobia and Gershem came and began to mock the efforts of rebuilding the wall. Anytime something good that God is doing begins to get traction; anytime you take a step of faith; anytime you attempt something great for God because your God is great, Sanballat, Tobia and Gershem show up.
They show up, first, to make you think you’re a fool for trying something that is so far over your head. They mock you, they gossip about you, they seek to discourage you and steal your joy by making you doubt yourself.
Then, if that doesn’t succeed, they threaten you. “Will you rebel against the king?” This was the very thing Nehemiah had been concerned about in coming to the king! He was a loyal subject and by no means wanted the king to think he was rebellious against his kingdom. And yet, this is exactly what the Accuser of our souls (Satan) does to us: he finds the place where we are most afraid and targets that with innuendo, with discouragement and just with fear.
But this time his arrow did not pierce Nehemiah’s heart. His defense? “The God of heaven will prosper us.” He knew this was God’s project and not his. He knew that God was truly the leader and not Nehemiah. He knew that this “good work” was a work God had called him to and nothing was going to stop it. His God was bigger than their discouraging words. Therefore, he said, “we His servants will arise and build…”
And so they did. And so must we!
FOR MEDITATION: So I answered and said to them, “The God of heaven Himself will prosper us; therefore we His servants will arise and build…” Nehemiah 2:20
FOR REFLECTION: Have you met Sanballat, Tobia and Gershem? If not, you will if you are seeking to walk seriously and obediently with God. They will come to you under different names and with different accusations, but the same spirit will drive the situation. They come to discourage… to tell you it can’t be done; to give you all the reasons why you should just give up before you ever start. Simply do to your Sanballat and Tobia and Gershem what Nehemiah did: remind them of who your God is.