In 570 B.C., the King of Israel, Jehoiakim, refused to pay tribute to King Nebuchadnezzar II of Babylon, so Babylon destroyed Israel and most of the Jewish people were exiled. Many of these Jews ended up in exile in the Persian Empire (modern day Iran).
About 50 years later, Zerubbabel leads a large group of Jews back to Jerusalem from Persia to rebuild the temple in Ezra 1-6.
About 60 years after that, Ezra goes back to Jerusalem to teach all about God and the Torah, and he rebuilds the community of Jerusalem.
About 13 years later, Nehemiah is working in the Persian government as a cupbearer to the king, and he hears from people who visited Israel.
Nehemiah 1:3 Those who survived the exile and are back in the province are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire.
Nehemiah 1:4 4 When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven.
Nehemiah decided to go back to Jerusalem and rebuild the wall himself, in honor of God. King Artaxerxes gave Nehemiah the time off, sent him with all of the materials, and gave him an armed escort for the almost 800 mile journey to fix the walls of Jerusalem.
Often, when we do things that God has called us to do, we get hit with opposition, which is exactly what happened to Nehemiah.
Opposition #1: Threaten Violence
Nehemiah 4:7-8 7 But when Sanballat, Tobiah, the Arabs, the Ammonites and the people of Ashdod heard that the repairs to Jerusalem’s walls had gone ahead and that the gaps were being closed, they were very angry. 8 They all plotted together to come and fight against Jerusalem and stir up trouble against it.
Sanballat is a Horonite from Samaria (North of Jerusalem)
Tobiah is an Ammonite (East of Jerusalem)
The Arabs are from Moab and Edom (South of Jerusalem)
The People of Ashdod (West of Jerusalem)
Nehemiah 4:13-15 13 Therefore I stationed some of the people behind the lowest points of the wall at the exposed places, posting them by families, with their swords, spears and bows. 14 After I looked things over, I stood up and said to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people, “Don’t be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your families, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes.” 15 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.
Made a plan.
Setup a defense.
Encouraged the people with the vision.
Got back to work.
1. Make a plan.
Don’t just sit back and let things happen, get with people you trust, and form a plan for how you’re going to respond.
2. Setup a defense.
It is Biblical and right for us as Christians to setup a defense in the area we're being attacked, and to stand strong on what God has called you to.
3. Encourage people with the vision.
Remind yourself and the people around you WHY are you doing what you’re doing.
4. Get back to work.
Don’t let people from outside, who don’t even understand who Jesus is tell you how to live! Get back to work!
Opposition #2: Commit Injustice
Nehemiah 5:1-4 1 Now the men and their wives raised a great outcry against their fellow Jews. 2 Some were saying, “We and our sons and daughters are numerous; in order for us to eat and stay alive, we must get grain.” 3 Others were saying, “We are mortgaging our fields, our vineyards and our homes to get grain during the famine.” 4 Still others were saying, “We have had to borrow money to pay the king’s tax on our fields and vineyards.
When Nehemiah found out about all of this, he was angry, and he set out to do something about it. When we see injustice in our world today, we should be the FIRST ONES to step up and fight it!
Nehemiah doesn’t sit back and wallow in sadness… He steps up and makes a difference. But, he ALSO doesn’t run in guns blazing telling everyone off and trying to have people fired. He lovingly shows them the right way through logic and discussion, and then helps with a resolution.
Opposition #3: Try to Distract
After Nehemiah finished patching the holes in the wall, the people from chapter 4 come back, but instead of threatening violence this time, they try to trick him.
Nehemiah 6:1-2 When word came to Sanballat, Tobiah, Geshem the Arab and the rest of our enemies that I had rebuilt the wall and not a gap was left in it—though up to that time I had not set the doors in the gates— 2 Sanballat and Geshem sent me this message: “Come, let us meet together in one of the villages on the plain of Ono.”
Nehemiah 6:3 “I am carrying on a great project and cannot go down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and go down to you?”
When someone is giving you grief for something God has called you to, you are more than welcome to say no. That’s not license to be self-righteous or prideful and arrogant, thinking that your thing is the most important or thinking that you don’t need outside input into what you’re hearing from God. But, when you are SURE of what God has called you to, and people who are enemies of God try to trick you into stopping, saying, “NOPE, you’re not worth my time” is a very viable and okay answer.
Opposition #4: Attack his Character
Nehemiah 6:5-7 5 Then, the fifth time, Sanballat sent his aide to me with the same message, and in his hand was an unsealed letter 6 in which was written:
“It is reported among the nations—and Geshem says it is true—that you and the Jews are plotting to revolt, and therefore you are building the wall. Moreover, according to these reports you are about to become their king 7 and have even appointed prophets to make this proclamation about you in Jerusalem: ‘There is a king in Judah!’ Now this report will get back to the king; so come, let us meet together.”
These men resort to attacking Nehemiah’s character, and make up a whole story about how Nehemiah wants to raise up the Jews and become their king.
It hurts when someone makes up things about you, and it often just makes you want to quit. Nehemiah actually walks us though his process in this:
He tells the truth. Nehemiah 6:8 8 I sent him this reply: “Nothing like what you are saying is happening; you are just making it up out of your head.”
He calls out the lies.
Nehemiah 6:9a They were all trying to frighten us, thinking, “Their hands will get too weak for the work, and it will not be completed.”
He goes to God for security.
Nehemiah 6:9b But I prayed, “Now strengthen my hands.”
He identifies the wolves.
The rest of the chapter talks about all of the people who are inside Jerusalem who are on the side of the outsiders wanting him dead. Matthew 7:15 Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.
When I’m attacked in my calling: I will make a plan, setup a defense, focus on the vision, and get back to work.
When I see injustice: I will stand for the hurting, and work to make a difference.
When I’m distracted from my calling: I will ignore the distractions and keep going after God.
When my character is attacked: I will tell the truth, call out the lies, go to God for security, and identify the unsafe people around me.