(October 29, 2022) Hope Flinchbaugh, reflecting on Nehemiah’s commission from God, shares challenges in respect of ‘A Leader’s Response to Opposition’(Part 2).
Like all leaders, Nehemiah faced opposition – but he did not cower!
As he and his friends (men and women) are making mortar, finding usable stones, they were reproached by their enemies, non-Jewish local governors…
Nehemiah 2:19 tells us of their challenge – ‘But when Sanballat the Horonite, Tobiah the Ammonite official, and Geshamthe 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?”
Verse 20 tells of Nehemiah’s bold response – ‘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.”’
Expect opposition When you begin to build where no one’s built before or you rebuild what was torn down by an enemy, you can expect some opposition. Somebody somewhere is going to say to your face or behind your back, ‘I am very displeased that you have come here to seek the welfare of these people.’
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.
Resistance 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 ultimatelyyour 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.
(August 30, 2022) Hope Flinchbaugh shares some more insights about Nehemiah’s wall- building journey, bringing a challenge to leadership!
The heart of this month’s part six is A Leader’s Faith for Finances.
My friend, whatever God calls us to dowill require faith in some realm or another because without faith it is impossible to please him. God looks for faith in action and leaders should be setting examples!
Let’s give God what is due Him and offer your faith, not your friends’ or your congregation’s wallets, in respect of the project in front of you.
Godis the supplier of needs Let me pause here and talk to all of us with platforms and microphones in churches! God called Nehemiah to lead to rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem. As a leader, if we’re feeling a twinge of guilt about asking for another offering, we need to talk to God. God never ever said that the church would pay our way, He said that He would supply all of our needs.
If you’re feeling a twinge of guilt, stop right there. Don’t take one more offering until God’s leading you to do it. Talk about a leap of faith.
(July 23, 2022) Hope Flinchbaugh shares some more insights about Nehemiah’s wall building journey, challenging us to know that God has a plan for us…
Economists predict that our world may be headed for monetary collapse. As Christians called by God to build or finance a ministry in this decade, we’ve all certainly had to, or will have to, ask God for His provision. But in doing so, we must remember that if we don’t approach God with faith, it is impossible to please Him!
The writer of Hebrews made this clear, pointing out the reward of believing faith: ‘… without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him’ (Hebrews 11:6NASB).
Boldly believing We have faith for our eternal salvation in heaven, but do we have faith for provision here on the earth? And let’s include finances. Finances? Yes… finance is needed to fulfil many a ministry and such could be very tight during this particular decade! Let’s learn from Nehemiah about boldly asking for provisions, and God ensuring such are arranged as His reward for our believing in faith.
(June 22, 2022) Hope Flinchbaugh shares some more thoughts about Nehemiah’s wall building journey, challenging us to know that God has a plan for us…’
It’s hard to leave our comfort zone! And that was the initial challenge Nehemiah faced in moving on from his comfort zone to fulfilling God’s plan for his life.
Being cupbearer to the king – a noted position – meant Nehemiah was in and out of the king’s presence several times a day.He had money, a position that clothed him well and gave him personal honour, a position where he enjoyed a small realm of trust and influence before the king.
When he learned that the exiled survivors of Israel were living in appalling conditions, that the walls of Jerusalem were rubble and the gates of the city were in cinders and ashes, Nehemiah was deeply touched. He immediately fasted, prayed, wept, and was willing to move… but what was the next step?
Waiting patiently That must have felt so anticlimactic!
(May 26, 2022) Hope Flinchbaugh continues her Nehemiah series, challenging us to know that God has a plan for us…
Nehemiah is different from leaders in the 21st century in one very important way. He did not have fresh news reports from five different sources humming in his ears or reflecting in his mind on a daily basis like you and me. A good leader will prayerfully limit his or her exposure to news reports.
Look for ‘God’s report,’ not news reports During the early twentieth century, a young man named Lester Sumrall used to visit the well-known evangelist, Smith Wigglesworth.
Wigglesworth was known for miracles, wonders, and the power of God in his ministry. Sumrall was dedicated to serving Jesus, to respond to the call of God on his life and there was a season when both men were in England and Wigglesworth would mentor the younger man.