There are two things a Christian can count on when he or she begins to work for the Lord: 1) Jesus will be pleased; 2) Satan will not. If you do not steady yourself for the coming onslaught of ridicule once you begin doing the Lord’s work, then you will be swatted down like a fly on the wall. Once I purpose in my heart to get about Kingdom work, I must realize I have just drawn a big target on my chest for the enemy. And be no doubt that his aim is sure; he knows just where to strike.
Nevertheless if we as Christians have a solid biblical perspective, we will be able to see those fiery darts coming and act accordingly. Nehemiah was able to do so:
“But it so happened, when Sanballat heard that we were rebuilding the wall, that he was furious and very indignant, and mocked the Jews. And he spoke before his brethren and the army of Samaria, and said, ‘What are these feeble Jews doing? Will they fortify themselves? Will they offer sacrifices? Will they complete it in a day? Will they revive the stones from the heaps of rubbish—stones that are burned?’ Now Tobiah the Ammonite was beside him, and he said, ‘Whatever they build, if even a fox goes up on it, he will break down their stone wall.’ Hear, O our God, for we are despised; turn their reproach on their own heads, and give them as plunder to a land of captivity! Do not cover their iniquity, and do not let their sin be blotted out from before You; for they have provoked You to anger before the builders. So we built the wall, and the entire wall was joined together up to half its height, for the people had a mind to work.” (Nehemiah 4:1-6)
Notice Nehemiah’s initial response to his scoffers—he cried out, “Hear, O our God.” How many times in the middle of persecution has your initial response been to pray? I have to admit mine would be zero. My initial response is to get angry, frustrated, or silent. I get angry because I despise the hatred of the mocker(s); I get frustrated because I do not know how to respond; I become silent because I do not want to sin with my mouth even though I have already done so in my heart. I must learn to first pray when facing opposition.
Nehemiah’s prayer showed to the workers that not only was their leader a godly and devout man, but it also inspired them to built half the wall. Why? Because the people had a mind to work. They had purposed in their hearts to complete the work that Nehemiah had shown them was God’s desire. They were buoyed by Nehemiah’s example and God’s presence.
Having this purpose of mind is vital if we are to continue in doing God’s work. If we are to stand for biblical principles and counter our culture’s growing belief that America was not founded as a Christian nation or by Christian men, then we can and should expect ridicule, opposition, and slander. The Apostle Peter warned us of such times:
“…knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, and saying, ‘Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.’ For this they willfully forget: that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of water and in the water, by which the world that then existed perished, being flooded with water. But the heavens and the earth which are now preserved by the same word, are reserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.” (2 Peter 3:3-7)
Please remember that these scoffers are lost souls; they have no ability to see the Truth because they are being deceived by the evil one. We are not to strike back; that is the Lord’s doing. We need to remember to pray and that we have purposed in our mind to do the Lord’s work. It would do us well to remember Matthew Henry’s commentary on our passage from Nehemiah:
“Many a good work has been looked upon with contempt by proud and haughty scorners. Those who disagree in almost every thing will unite in persecution. Nehemiah did not answer these fools according to their folly, but looked up to God by prayer. God’s people have often been a despised people, but He hears all the slights that are put upon them, and it is their comfort that He does so. Nehemiah had reason to think that the hearts of those sinners were desperately hardened; else he would not have prayed that their sins might never be blotted out. Good work goes on well, when people have a mind to do it. The reproaches of enemies should quicken us to our duty, not drive us from it.”
Very good advice to heed and remember that our enemies will not only unite in persecution, but they will also work harder when they first fail. They will not give up. Sanballat, Tobiah, and the rest of their cronies did not just crawl away in defeat after Nehemiah’s prayer.
No, they all plotted together.
How do we respond when this happens?
Tomorrow we find out how Nehemiah responded…
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