Last time we talked about the amazing layout of the gates around Jerusalem and how they (amazingly, but not coincidentally) parallel the Christian journey.
Be sure to check out that blog here or in the ‘Chapters Thus Far’ drop down below:
Chapters Thus Far:
1 – Nehemiah broken when learns of state of Jerusalem; because he loves God and hurts to see the state of His people and desires to see His promise fulfilled.
2: 1-10 – Nehemiah desires to bring God glory so much he abandons his Persian palace and heads out to do work in Jerusalem.
2:11-20 – We learn of the calling to Go and Rebuild.
3 – The Gates parallel the Christian life. Ah-Mazing stuff…
Today, we face the opposition that was foreshadowed in chapter 2, where our antagonists are starting to, well, antagonize:
In a recent sermon by Ken Hicks for Heights Community Church, he points out that this chapter lays out specific types of opposition we can expect from the enemy :
- Anger of others against us
- Mockery and Sarcasm
- Threats and Intimidation
- Discouragement and Exhaustion
Indeed, in just these first few verses we see glimmers of all of these. If opposition is not a guarantee to life, in general, is an absolute in the Christian faith and the attack ramps of fast against Jerusalem.
How do we respond to the opposition is a relevant question and, I believe, Nehemiah gives us some insight to this answer:
- v6 – work with all your heart
- v9 – prayer
I’m not sure the order matters. Christian-Me would say prayer first, but I think it’s fair to say they can (and should?) be done in parallel. We saw a similar glimpse of this in chapter 2 when the king asked him what was troubling him. Prayer and a Heart Felt answer.
Does this heart-felt emotion and prayer work? Are they delivered from their enemies!? Not really; at least, not in a way that we would expect (movie-tale-deliverance…you know, Bruce Willis saves the day kinda deliverance…)
What we see is more attack coming and the rest of chapter 4 is Nehemiah’s tactical response and awesome leadership/encouragement :
Opposition is inevitable. It’s only in proper biblical understanding of the role opposition plays that we are able to stand up and cheerfully proclaim what Nehemiah does, that despite this dismal situation, the severe affliction and abundant poverty, God is (still) very good and love abounds.
This “love definition” matters a great deal and is observed continuously throughout scripture.
But don’t take my word for it: