As sure as the sun rises in the east and sets in the west your enemies will become more determined the more successful you become for the Lord. One area where Christians always seemed to get ambushed when doing the Lordâ€™s work is when lies are told about them. Beloved we need to not only be prepared for this, but we also should expect it. Jesus our Lord called us blessed for it; in fact He ended the Beatitudes with it:
â€œBlessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.â€ (Matthew 5:11-12)
Many Christians will just ignore such lies and in some cases this is the right approach because there are so many delusional people. However, if the person or people telling lies about you are in positions of authority then these accusations should be addressed. Moreover, if you enemy(s) try to come to the â€œtable of reconciliationâ€ without first recognizing your right to your beliefs, youâ€™re setting yourself up for deceit. Nehemiah had this heavenly discernment when his enemies tried to â€œtalk about it.â€
â€œNow it happened when Sanballat, Tobiah, Geshem the Arab, and the rest of our enemies heard that I had rebuilt the wall, and that there were no breaks left in it (though at that time I had not hung the doors in the gates), that Sanballat and Geshem sent to me, saying, â€˜Come, let us meet together among the villages in the plain of Ono.â€™ But they thought to do me harm. So I sent messengers to them, saying, â€˜I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down. Why should the work cease while I leave it and go down to you?â€™ But they sent me this message four times, and I answered them in the same manner. Then Sanballat sent his servant to me as before, the fifth time, with an open letter in his hand. In it was written: â€˜It is reported among the nations, and Geshem says, that you and the Jews plan to rebel; therefore, according to these rumors, you are rebuilding the wall, that you may be their king. And you have also appointed prophets to proclaim concerning you at Jerusalem, saying, â€œThere is a king in Judah!â€ Now these matters will be reported to the king. So come, therefore, and let us consult together.â€™â€ (Nehemiah 6:1-7)
â€œBut they thought to do me harm.â€ Do you think Nehemiah wished these guys went away or they could all just get along? Sure, anyone would like to make friends out of their enemies but without a heart transplant from the Great Physician Jesus evil enemies do not just â€œcome aroundâ€ on their own. Nehemiah realized that Sanballat and his gang were trying to lure him away from his work and his army so they could kill him. Appeasing your enemies never works and so when Sanballat had failed he made a false accusation against Nehemiah, accusing him of desiring to be king. This is when Nehemiah not only addressed his accusers but he did something much more important:
â€œThen I sent to him, saying, â€˜No such things as you say are being done, but you invent them in your own heart.â€™ For they all were trying to make us afraid, saying, â€˜Their hands will be weakened in the work, and it will not be done.â€™ Now therefore, O God, strengthen my hands.â€ (Nehemiah 6:8-9)
Nehemiah addressed the lie and the motivation behind it; Sanballat and the others were trying to make the Israelites afraid and hopefully stop the progress of the wallâ€™s restoration. But notice that Nehemiah called out to the Lord for strength. Why did he do that if he knew what his enemies were up to? Again we will let Matthew Henry explain it:
â€œNehemiah lifted up his heart to Heaven in a short prayer. When, in our Christian work and warfare, we enter upon any service or conflict, this is a good prayer, I have such a duty to do, such a temptation to grapple with; now, therefore, O God, strengthen my hands. Every temptation to draw us from duty should quicken us the more to duty.â€
Satanic interference means you are being effective for the Lord and just because you spoil one of the Evil Oneâ€™s plans does not mean he will not try harder. In fact Satan and his minions will only get craftier:
â€œAfterward I came to the house of Shemaiah the son of Delaiah, the son of Mehetabel, who was a secret informer; and he said, â€˜Let us meet together in the house of God, within the temple, and let us close the doors of the temple, for they are coming to kill you; indeed, at night they will come to kill you.â€™ And I said, â€˜Should such a man as I flee? And who is there such as I who would go into the temple to save his life? I will not go in!â€™ Then I perceived that God had not sent him at all, but that he pronounced this prophecy against me because Tobiah and Sanballat had hired him. For this reason he was hired, that I should be afraid and act that way and sin, so that they might have cause for an evil report, that they might reproach me. My God, remember Tobiah and Sanballat, according to these their works, and the prophetess Noadiah and the rest of the prophets who would have made me afraid.â€ (Nehemiah 6:10-14)
Very clever devil, very clever indeed. As my pastor always says, â€œSatan is the best devil there is.â€ But notice that Nehemiah does not exact revenge because he knew that vengeance was the Lordâ€™s business:
â€œTherefore the Lord says, The LORD of hosts, the Mighty One of Israel, â€˜Ah, I will rid Myself of My adversaries, And take vengeance on My enemies.â€™â€ (Isaiah 1:24)
Nehemiah knew that his purpose in life at that moment in time was to rebuild the walls and gates around Jerusalem so as to protect its inhabitants. He would not stop nor be distracted until the job was finished.
Tomorrow we look at that accomplishment.
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