Overcoming the Opposition
St. Teresa of Avila (d. A.D. 1582), founder of the Carmelites, was noted for an ironic sense of humor and a deft way of turning a phrase. One day, Teresa was about to go on a trip, and she prayed to God for a safe journey. The trip was almost a disaster. There were delays, accidents, illness. When she returned, she went back to talk to God again, this time to complain.
Her complaint went something like this: "Lord, I prayed for a safe and pleasant trip, and what do I get? I get nothing but problems."
God replied, "But Teresa, that's how I treat all my friends."
Teresa answered: "Yes, I know, and that's why you've got so few of them."
A. Last week in our study of Nehemiah, talked about the starting place to re-build the walls for us all begins at home!.
1. That doesn't mean we stay at home in a constant state of immaturity.
2. It means "shoring up" the weak areas of our private devotion, and our home life, and getting on with serving the Lord!
a) We also concluded that prayer, Christian fellowship, honesty and integrity, and cessation of gossip is all part of the re-building process!
b) Mark 4:19 (NKJV) "and the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things entering in choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.
c) We also learned that we need to be content with what we have! And not let our lust for things keep us from serving the Lord!!!.
B. This morning, we are going to take a look at how the enemy tried to keep Nehemiah from re-building the walls!
1. In doing so, I think we can learn much and better prepare ourselves for the confrontation when he comes to discourage our re-building of the walls!!
II. TACTICS OF THE ENEMY Nehe 4:1 (NKJV) But it so happened, when Sanballat heard that we were rebuilding the wall, that he was furious and very indignant, and mocked the Jews. 2 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?" 3 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." 4 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! 5 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. 6 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. 7 Now it happened, when Sanballat, Tobiah, the Arabs, the Ammonites, and the Ashdodites heard that the walls of Jerusalem were being restored and the gaps were beginning to be closed, that they became very angry, 8 and all of them conspired together to come [and] attack Jerusalem and create confusion. 9 Nevertheless we made our prayer to our God, and because of them we set a watch against them day and night.
A. Ephe 6:11 (NKJV) Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual [hosts] of wickedness in the heavenly [places].
1. We must therefore, look beyond the Sandballats and Tobiahs of life and see an old enemy using even the same tactics he used against Christ!
2. satan most always starts his opposition from the outside first, then moves to the inside.
a) OUTSIDE: derision and scorn!
(1) Nehe 4:2 (NKJV) And he (Sandballat) 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?" 3 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."
(a) "Your personnel is weak, your task impossible and even if you do start to re-build; God wont take any notice of you nor will He help you!"
(b) "You're going to fail, like you've always failed!"
(2) Let's take a look at this same tactic from a more modern approach!
(a) ON A PERSONAL LEVEL: "You can't serve God and make any money! You will never succeed if you don't play the corporate game! If you must be religious OK put in your token time but get busy building your future'."
(b) ON A CHURCH LEVEL: "Your personnel is weak. How in the world are you ever going to build a church when the people dont care?" "It's obvious that God is not in this work or you wouldn't have these problems." And as for your pastor, elders, deacons, and teacher's: they mean well, but they just dont have what it takes!"
(c) ON A NATIONAL LEVEL: ISAAC SIMINOFF, (signer of the humanist manifesto) Christians and the bible are archaic and dangerous to the evolutionary process.' "There is not an omnipotent God out there to help you. The god-potential is within you. If you don't realize that it slows us all down!"
(i) The global plan is for the elimination of the Judeo- Christian belief system. You see, most of the world sees Christians are uneducated fanatics, that impede the process to "enlightenment" and need to be removed!
(3) Please notice in the text, (verse 7), that Sanballat, Tobiah, the Arabians, the Ammonite's, the Asdodites united forces against the re-building process!
(a) Satan will often cause people who would otherwise not even hang out with each other, to unite for power against the work of the Lord!
(b) Same tactic with Jesus!
(i) Luke 22:63 (NKJV) Now the men who held Jesus mocked Him and beat Him.
(ii) Luke 23:35 (NKJV) And the people stood looking on. But even the rulers with them sneered, saying, "He saved others; let Him save Himself if He is the Christ, the chosen of God." 36 The soldiers also mocked Him, coming and offering Him sour wine, 37 and saying, "If You are the King of the Jews, save Yourself."
(iii) Luke 23:12 (NKJV) That very day Pilate and Herod became friends with each other, for previously they had been at enmity with each other.
(iv) John 15:18 (NKJV) "If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before [it] [hated] you.
(v) Matt 10:24 (NKJV) "A disciple is not above [his] teacher, nor a servant above his master.
(a) For some reason, if people can get others to unite with them, they seem justified!
(b) Even if it is in destroying something God is in!
(c) It has been said, "If we do not feel Satan's black breath of hate and contempt and scorn, maybe we're living to close to him!"
(i) He is never upset when there is no threat!
(ii) But if you rise to build, you can expect him to be there to stir us the Sandballats and Tobiahs
b) INSIDE: derision and scorn!
(1) Remember Ephesians 6:11-12, its the same enemy, with the same tactics, but he moves from outside to inside the "family"
(a) Numb 14:27 (NKJV) "How long [shall] [I] [bear] [with] this evil congregation who complain against Me? I have heard the complaints which the children of Israel make against Me.
(b) Numb 14:36 (NKJV) Now the men whom Moses sent to spy out the land, who returned and made all the congregation complain against him by bringing a bad report of the land,
(c) 1Cor 10:10 (NKJV) (don't) complain, as some of them also complained, and were destroyed by the destroyer.
(2) Not all have a mind to work!
(a) Nehe 3:5 (NKJV) Next to them the Tekoites made repairs; but their nobles did not put their shoulders to the work of their Lord.
(b) Most families, and every church family has within it a "mixed multitude".
(c) Exod 12:38 (NKJV) A mixed multitude went up with them also, and flocks and herds--a great deal of livestock.
(d) Numb 11:4 (NKJV) Now the mixed multitude who were among them yielded to intense craving; so the children of Israel also wept again and said: "Who will give us meat to eat?
(e) In other word, there are some who will believe God is leading you in this building, or re-building process, and others who, will bail on you!
(f) satan will always use those unwilling to submit to the vision and leadership to cause division, usually through murmuring and gossip!
(i) But when we murmur against God's people and God's plan through HIS appointed leaders: we murmur against God!
(ii) Exod 16:8 (NKJV) . . . for the Lord hears your complaints which you make against Him. And what [are] we? Your complaints [are] not against us but against the Lord."
Two farmers were having a long bitter feud over a fence line. The quarrel became more and more heated until finally, under cover of darkness, one farmer went to the other's well and dropped bags of salt into it to contaminate it. He thought he had really showed his opponent who was in charge. A few days later, though, when he lifted water out of his own well, he discovered that it had a salty taste. Both farmers' wells shared a common underground water table.
(iii) If you do not like that way something is done in your home or at your church, became a part of the solution! Without murmuring!
A. Don't get diverted!
1. All of this opposition is for one reason! To keep you from building and re-building for the Lord!
a) Nehe 4:6 (NKJV) 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.
b) Nehemiah ignored the sarcastic remarks and kept working'. Doing what God had told him to do!
c) Jesus did the same thing.
(1) 1Pet 2:23 (NKJV) who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed [Himself] to Him who judges righteously;
(2) Isai 53:7 (NKJV) He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, And as a sheep before its shearers is silent, So He opened not His mouth.
(3) John 19:30 (NKJV) So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, "It is finished!" And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit.
B. We must have a mind to work, and a heart to pray, and an eye to watch!
1. Nehe 4:9 (NKJV) Nevertheless we made our prayer to our God, and because of them we set a watch against them day and night.
a) REDPATH: "...it is one of Satan's greatest victories when he just laughs you out of a work for God."