(September 24, 2022) Hope Flinchbaugh, sharing more insights on Nehemiah’s commission from God, now reminds us of ‘A Leader’s Response to Opposition’ (Part 1).
Nehemiah was called by God to rebuild and restore Jerusalem. He had the king’s permission and visas to pass through all the territories on the way. He even had a letter from the king that gave him permission to order a supply of the best lumber for the rebuilding – (all paid in full!).
On his way to Jerusalem, two men tried to stop Nehemiah.
In Nehemiah 2:9-10NKJV we read, ‘Then I went to the governors in the region beyond the River, and gave them the king’s letters. Now the king had sent captains of the army and horsemen with me. When Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite official heard of it, they were deeply disturbed that a man had come to seek the well-being of the children of Israel.’
Verse eleven says that Nehemiah made it to Jerusalem despite the resistance of Sanballat and Tobiah and he stayed three days.
Interestingly, he didn’t tell anyone in Jerusalem why he was there. Imagine being this important in the kingdom and embarking on this amazing prophetic journey and yet not letting everyone know the importance of your mission when you arrive!
Nehemiah was definitely working for heaven, not seeking permission from people. His responses to opposition?
Response 1 – Trusting God
Verse 12NASB tells that ‘… I arose in the night, I and a few men with me. I did not tell anyone what my God was putting into my mind to do for Jerusalem and there was no animal with me except the animal on which I was riding.’
- Nehemiah didn’t blow a trumpet – he wielded a flashlight.
- He only took a few trusted men with him – and scouted out the land.
- He went out at night without fanfare – but with the presence of God.
We might wonder why he so casually points out that there was no other animals along with them. Think about it. Sanballat and Tobiah, his opposers, couldn’t have been that far away. Nehemiah was keeping things as quiet as possible that night, avoiding any unwanted noise, until he had seen for himself the damage of the Jerusalem walls, what he was up against.
Well, that’s like you or I writing, ‘I went out to check out an old, abandoned building in the ghettoes of Los Angeles in the middle of the night, but I didn’t bring the police, my wallet, or my cell phone! I don’t have an escape route planned, I just need to get out there and see what God says to me.’
Nehemiah was determined not only to be unobserved, but that he would do some observing! And, in seeing what lay ahead of him… hear from heaven regarding his challenge and commission!
‘The officials did not know where I had gone or what I was doing, because as yet I had said nothing to the Jews or the priests or nobles or officials or any others who would be doing the work’ (Nehemiah 2:16).
Response 2 – Choosing the right moment!
We don’t know if Nehemiah reported his mission to the men who were with him that very night or if he waited until morning. But while inspecting the walls that night, he knew what they didn’t know – the king had given him permission to rebuild.
Imagine holding that secret! But there are times we must hold such a secret until the moment that God releases us to explain our purpose and bid others to join us. Finally, that moment came.
Nehemiah records: ‘Then I said to them, “You see the bad situation we are in, that Jerusalem is desolate and its gates burned by fire. Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem so that we will no longer be a reproach.” I told them how the hand of my God had been favorable to me and also about the king’s words which he had spoken to me. Then they said, “Let us arise and build.” So they put their hands to the good work’ (Nehemiah 2:17-18NASB).
Response 3 – Refusing to cower
And so Nehemiah dives in! He and his friends are making mortar, finding new stones and recovering old ones, some of them burned and not usable. Even then, his enemies immediately reproach him!
‘But when Sanballat the Horonite, Tobiah the Ammonite official, and Geshem the Arab heard of it, they laughed at us and despised us, and said, “What is this thing that you are doing? Will you rebel against the king?” So I answered them, and said to them, “The God of heaven Himself will prosper us; therefore we His servants will arise and build, but you have no heritage or right or memorial in Jerusalem’ (Nehemiah 2:19-20).
When faced with opposition, Nehemiah did not cower. He did not explain that he carried visas, he had the king’s lumber, and he definitely had the king’s favour.
Response 4 – Knowing your authority
In fact, Nehemiah didn’t even mention King Artaxerxes! The first statement he made was that he was there under the authority of God Himself! Boldly he declared, ‘The God of heaven Himself will prosper us, therefore we His servants will arise and build.’
Can you sense the confident tone of his voice here? You too can be confident in building your ‘Jerusalem wall’ if you really know that God Himself is your covering, your source, your authority!
My friend, whatever God has called you to do, go fearlessly and do it under the authority of God. You may have permission from a committee or from a king, and you will have opposition – but ultimately your authority comes from heaven. Hallelujah!
Hope Flinchbaugh, editor-in-chief of Hope Editors, a special team helping publishers and authors, has written three historical fiction novels and two nonfiction books. Hope’s love for children is evident in her delightful Baby Babbles series… available from Amazon Author Page or International Orders Here.
I Come to the Garden Alone… Jesus is waiting – come and talk to Him, is Hope’s inspiring daily devotions booklet. Hope’s Amazon Author Page. Link: OnlinerConnect@gmail.com