Back in the 5th century, Augustine asked, “Why does truth inspire such hatred?”
Opposition is a real thing, and don’t think it ain’t.
When Nehemiah organized the Israelites to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem in chapters 3 and 4 of the book of Nehemiah, they faced real opposition from their enemies. This opposition included verbal opposition, scoffing and even threats of physical violence.
If you read yesterday’s post, you won’t be surprised to learn how Nehemiah met this opposition. Once again, he poured out his heart in prayer. I love some of the Old Testament prayers. Let me tell you, they don’t mince words. No nicey-nicey stuff for them. These prayers are more of the “Go Get ‘Em, God!!!” variety. Nehemiah and the Israelites prayed:
“Hear us, O our God, for we are despised. Turn their insults back on their own heads. Give them over as plunder in a land of captivity. Do not cover up their guilt or blot out their sins from your sight, for they have thrown insults in the face of the builders.”
Remember: all this pre-dates Jesus’ teaching to pray for your enemies. The Israelites knew they were on a mission, to do a work that God had prepared in advance for them to do, so they left it to Him to deal with their enemies. They knew very well what it meant to be “given over as plunder in a land of captivity”. And they wanted this problem of opposition taken care of, so that they could keep going with the task that had been set before them.
I know that some people don’t like the phrase “under attack”. And it’s probably true that some Christians DO bandy that phrase around too blithely. Jesus promised us trouble. “In this world you WILL HAVE trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
We may not have Sanballat and Tobiah the Ammonite running around making trouble for us, but who is the enemy of our souls? And, kids, he still likes to make trouble for the people of God, the ones who are doing the work God has called them to do.
I have two friends, on opposite sides of the continent, each of whom has taken a difficult stand for truth. They have each said, “Yes” to a work that they knew God was calling them to do, a work that could save our sons and daughters. And in my opinion, they have each come under what I truly believe is a spiritual attack.
Should we be surprised when that attack comes? Probably not. Of course, I generally am. Because, here’s how my mind works: I think I’ve done something nice for God, so, shouldn’t He be blessing me, and taking care of His little Shnookums?
Well, God DOES care for me, even when I’m going through the fire, but His thoughts are not my thoughts, and His ways are not my ways, and sometimes He’s working on stuff about which I have no clue, and dad blast it, sometimes he doesn’t call off the opposition as quickly as I might like.
So, Nehemiah. You got any more lessons for me and my buddies who are in the fire right now?
In Chapter 4, verses 8 and 9, here’s what God’s Word says:
“They all plotted together to come and fight against Jerusalem and stir up trouble against it. Be we prayed to our God and posted a guard day and night to meet this threat.”
I just love that. We prayed, AND posted a guard.
Yes, they believed God would hear and answer their prayer. But they weren’t going to be stupid about it either.
Later in the chapter it says, “They did their work with one hand and held a weapon in the other.”
And two more phrases from the chapter for your consideration, the first in verse 14: “Don’t be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes.”
And later on in verse 20, “Wherever you hear the sound of the trumpet, join us there. Our God will fight for us!”
So here is my word of encouragement (I hope) to my struggling friends, to my friends who are under attack right now. You have done what He has called you to do. But opposition is just a part of the whole shootin’ match. Do not despair. Do not give up. The Lord loves you, has not forgotten you, and He is GREAT and AWESOME! He will fight for you!!!
And if, at present, you yourself do not feel under attack, won’t you come alongside the ones you know who are, and stand guard for them, and hand them their tools as they need them?