This morning while reading God’s Word, I came across this passage about the opposition that Nehemiah had when trying to rebuild the wall around Jerusalem:
And next to them the Tekoites repaired, but their nobles would not stoop to serve their Lord.
Nehemiah 3:5 ESV
Here’s the background behind this text: God gave Nehemiah a clear vision to rebuild the walls, and the Lord even made a way for Nehemiah to have favor and blessings from the king to do this task. So once he came to Jerusalem, the favor continued as the people as a whole followed him. However, not all were on board.
Along with the two riff-raff opponents, Sanballat and Tobiah, the Tekoite nobles didn’t want to be a part of this work. Whether it was pride or fear as the reason for their passive aggressive behavior, we don’t know for sure, but their opposition was big enough of an issue to be mentioned here in Scripture. We can guess, however, that the nobles (who lived in Jerusalem) probably benefited in some way from the exile. These “wolves within the gates” must have thrived on the instability around them and stood much to lose if the rebuilding failed. In other words, they favored the status quo in order to be in the best position to benefit themselves. Of course, the walls and gates were completed in a short period of time, the city was secure, and Nehemiah began to reform the city spiritually and morally once the city was secured physically.
Just as wolves were among the people, we can also see this taking place at times in the church of today. These sort of wolves are named in the New Testament as “waterless clouds” (Jude 12) or even “waterless springs” (2 Peter 2:17). Jesus, of course warned of those “who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.” (Matthew 7:15, ESV). People like this are not of the Spirit but of the flesh, and they see the world through the lens of the physical and the political. They seek to place themselves first, and worst of all, they look at God’s work in the church from a worldly, fleshly perspective. Such people harm and destroy ministries and lives. And yes, they are frustrating and discouraging for these leaders, and for good reason: many a leader has fallen victim to attacks by these sort of wolves, even causing some to leave their God given calling. This should not be so.
So, what should you do? Look at Nehemiah’s example. First, he sought the Lord and His vision. Second, he sought help, brining resources and godly people to implement the plan. He ignored critics, focusing on the work in front of him and praying in the Spirit for protection. When he discerned that there were evil people trying to distract them, he moved forward, knowing that a few fleshly opponents of God’s vision cannot be allowed to hijack God’s work before them. Instead, he prayed, focused, and brought entire families to help complete the work.
And complete it they did. His laser like focus remained until the work was finished. His dependence on God led him to further reforms after the walls were completed. And most of all, Nehemiah finished well.
Finish well. Stay in the Word. Bring others with you. Stay encouraged.
[…] as we did with my last post, let’s look again at Nehemiah’s responses to his opponents. When he was attacked, […]