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Monday, September 19, 2016

God's Work, Worker, and Opposition (Nehemiah 6:1a, 2-3)

 "When word came to Sanballat, Tobiah, Geshem the Arab and the rest of our enemies that I had rebuilt the wall and not a gap was left in it--Sanballat and Geshem sent me this message: "Come, let us meet together in one of the villages on the plain of Ono." But they were scheming to harm me."

God's work always attracts opposition. Those in opposition often begin their attack by demanding meetings. Five times Sanballat, Tobiah and Geshem send messages to Nehemiah demanding that he meet with them. They falsely assume the worst about Nehemiah and they hid behind unnamed accusers ("it is reported"), they used the unnamed "they say" ("you are about to become their king"), and on the fifth attempt they try to "strong-arm" him into meeting with them. Again he refuses. Instead of meeting with them, he meets with God.

So, his opposition uses fear tactics by paying others to speak discouraging words to make him look like a paranoid coward, "Let us meet in the house of God, inside the temple, and let us close the temple doors, because men are coming to kill you." Instead of running to the temple, He runs to God.

Tobiah continued his letter writing campaign against Nehemiah (Today, he would be an avid blogger). Undaunted by their attacks, Nehemiah remains focused on the task at hand and completes the re-building of the temple in record time.

What does this story teach us about the enemy, God, and His work?
  • Had Nehemiah not had opposition they probably would have dawdled along in the work and taken forever to complete the building of the temple.
  • God uses opposition redemptively to accomplish His purposes.
  • Running to God in prayer keeps His servant focused on the task at hand. The opposition isn't Nehemiah's problem but God's.
Nehemiah helps us to understand that opposition is a divine opportunity to see God at work.

Questions for today's Chronological Bible reading:
Nehemiah 5:1-7:3
  • What were the Jewish people doing to one another during one of the lowest points of their history?
  • What kept Nehemiah from taking advantage of his brethren? What does this tell you about his leadership and his view of God?
  • To what lengths do Sanballat and his friends go to attack Nehemiah?
  • Who is Shemaiah? (see Nehemiah 3:28 and 10:8)
  • What do they accuse Nehemiah of?
  • How does Nehemiah respond to their attacks?
  • How long does it take for them to complete the rebuilding of the walls? What does this cause their enemies to do?
Psalm 1
  • How do the righteous and wicked differ?
  • What promise does God make regarding the wicked and the righteous?
Psalm 107
  • Why should we give thanks unto the Lord?
  • The Psalmist describes four scenarios of people in this psalm (verses 4, 10, 17, and 23). What two things do the groups all have in common?
  • What three things does the Lord reverse in the land for the wicked?
  • What two things does He reverse for those who are hungry?
  • What happens to those who are proud? humble?
  • What does the wise person learn about God from this Psalm (verse 43)?
Turning truth into prayer
Thank the Lord for opposition in your workplace, ministry or family. Ask Him to show you His redemptive thread in your problems. Thank Him that the enemy isn't yours to fight, but His to fight.