Chapter 4 of Nehemiah outlines the strategy the Enemy uses to stop the work when God’s people are rebuilding. There are, in Scripture, three enemies mentioned that we must always be aware of: the world, the flesh and the devil. The world encases the cultural context we are working in; the flesh is the enemy within… the fallen nature that can rear its head against us; and the devil… the adversary that is always working. These three become barriers to completing the work.
In a historic framework and picture, Nehemiah contends with these in Chapter 4. However, this is not the first time they appear. Early in the process, as Nehemiah steps out by faith to go to Jerusalem, they had already visited. And if you are on the journey toward God’s calling in your life as a leader in any category, you are going to encounter these three visitors.
Nehemiah’s enemies had names: Sanballat, Tobiah, Geshem the Arab and assorted others. Your enemies may also have names: ridicule, resistance and rumors may visit your plans to walk with God. Ridicule keeps you aware that the world does not approve of what you are doing. Resistance comes from within as we face self-doubt and confront our own frailties and weaknesses. And rumors will always fly since the name of your adversary, Satan, literally means “slanderer or accuser.”
Sanballat and Tobiah and their friends ridiculed the work Nehemiah was accomplishing. When they ridiculed him, they did it in front of others (4:2). They sought to discourage him from thinking that what he was doing would last (4:3). Nehemiah constantly brought his own internal weaknesses and doubt to the Lord in prayer as he fought his own resistance and questions. The rumors flew as the enemy fueled the fears of people against Nehemiah and the builders.
The apostle Paul in the New Testament wisely reminds us to “not be unaware of the enemies’ strategy.” Don’t be blind to what is happening when ridicule and resistance and rumors are showing up. It means you are moving forward. And moving forward will always have a price tag.
And let me caution here again: our battle is not with people. We are fighting a spiritual war. Satan will always activate people to move against you and hide behind these “human shields” as he fights with you. The worst thing we can do is turn on people as these things happen. Remember something: hurting people hurt people. If someone is spreading rumors or innuendo; if a co-worker is acting out in an unexplained way, just remember the adversary has activated a hurting person to use as a weapon against you.
Be aware. Stay focused. Know that God will give you the victory as you keep your eyes on Him!
FOR MEDITATION: We prayed to our God and posted a guard. Nehemiah 4:9
FOR REFLECTION: So far in Nehemiah, we see the leader on his knees before the Lord constantly. “I prayed…” “I prayed” “I prayed…” we read throughout Nehemiah chapters 1-3. But here we see something different: “So we prayed….” That change of pronoun is profound. As the leader prayed, now others are joining him. Your example in your home, in your personal life before God will influence others.