Summary: The message deals with facing and overcoming opposition in our life and in the church.
Overcoming Opposition - Part 1
About 350 years ago a shipload of travelers landed on the northeast coast of America. The first year they established a town site. The next year they elected a town government. The third year the town government planned to build a road five miles westward into the wilderness.
In the fourth year the people tried to impeach their town government because they thought it was a waste of public funds to build a road five miles westward into a wilderness. Who needed to go there anyway?
Here were people who had the vision to see three thousand miles across an ocean and overcome great hardships to get there. But in just a few years they were not able to see even five miles out of town. They had lost their pioneering vision. With a clear vision of what we can become in Christ, no ocean of difficulty is too great. Without it, we rarely move beyond our current boundaries. (Lynn Anderson)
When God’s people begin doing God’s will, in God’s way, there will be opposition. All you need do is read the great stories of victory in scripture and you will notice how many encountered opposition. The Lord Jesus Christ was constantly harassed and threatened by the people He came to deliver. If He experienced opposition then we surely will when we begin His work.
We are beginning the year with great victories, people are coming to receive the Lord, lives are being changed, the church is beginning to move on the vision God has given us, and yes, there has been opposition.
We have had our beloved church members in the hospital each week and others have been very ill. Since the beginning of the year we have had twenty of our members encounter major health issues. Most were hospitalized for at least a day. We have encountered fatigue. We even have some who have ridiculed our endeavors. We’ve had opposition.
We have the promise from our Lord telling us that not even the gates of hell shall prevail against His church. So, how do we overcome the obstacles and opposition we are sure to encounter?
The Israelites were building the wall. God had given Nehemiah a burden and mission. God had delivered everything to them so they could accomplish the task before them, rebuilding the wall of Jerusalem. He had enlisted the workers and they were all ready to begin. It was going to be smooth sailing, NOT. As soon as we finish the "role call" of workers in chapter 3, the obstacles and opposition began all over again.
Mocking & Ridicule
When Sanballat heard that we were rebuilding the wall, he became angry and was greatly incensed. He ridiculed the Jews, and in the presence of his associates and the army of Samaria, he said, “What are those feeble Jews doing? Will they restore their wall? Will they offer sacrifices? Will they finish in a day? Can they bring the stones back to life from those heaps of rubble—burned as they are?” v. 1-2
Tobiah the Ammonite, who was at his side, said, “What they are building—if even a fox climbed up on it, he would break down their wall of stones!” v.4
The opposition was immediate. Sanballat and Tobiah out of anger began mocking and ridiculing the workers on the wall. They just would not go away. They definitely didn’t want to see them succeed. Whatever they could to prevent the wall from being built they were going to do.
Nehemiah had recognized God’s mighty hand upon him and the king fearing for his safety had sent soldiers to escort him to Jerusalem. The king knew there would be problems and did what he could to protect Nehemiah. Nehemiah’s faith in God and God’s miraculous workings are evident in the events of chapter two, but the last verse of the chapter says,
When Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite official heard about this, they were very much disturbed that someone had come to promote the welfare of the Israelites.
There wasn’t even time to shout hallelujah and the opposition began. One of the great truths of doing God’s will in our personal life and in our church life is (1) we can expect opposition. Whenever we begin to do His will our life will come under attack either physically, spiritually, or mentally.
Amazingly, the same individuals who knew the decision of the king to help Nehemiah are the same ones causing problems in Jerusalem. I would imagine that no matter where Nehemiah went these two detractors would have followed him.
One of my friends who pastored in the Phoenix area left to go do new work in another state. God had laid on his heart the desire to start new churches. The plans were laid for him to begin with the cooperation of two established churches. Funds and families were in place to further the kingdom.