Summary: what can we learn when we face opposition & problems



Nehemiah 4

Pastor Jeff Seaman

Have you ever had one of those weeks that everything went wrong that could go wrong? This has been one of those weeks for me. I have started this week on a new job so that we can put more money back into the church for ministry. I was a potter before I went into ministry, so you can say my tent making is pottery. Well, I used to make planter for a company called H.R Pottery, and I would make about 300 to 400 a day for them, and I made good money at it. Well I am going to work for Clouds Pottery here in Folsom, and they only us clay called porcelain, and it is one of the hardest clays to work with. The clay that I used at H.R. was very easy to work with, but the clay I am using at Clouds is not that clay.

For a potter to make a lot of pots they use this things called bats, bats round thing at a potter make his pottery on so that he could take it off the wheel fast and not have to cut it off the wheel head. Well I knew that the clay had its reputation for being hard to work with but I never though it would be like this. The clay would not stick to any of my bats. I would start to make a pot and half way through making the pot, the clay would slip off.

In pottery if you are going to work for some one you need to be able to make the pots fast. Well I was very fast at making pots at H.R Pottery with the right clay. I used to be able to make a pot in 42 seconds. But not this week every other pot a tried to make, the clay would not stay.

This week as we look at Nehemiah and his passion for rebuilding of the walls we see that they came up against some opposition and some problems. Last week we saw how he reacted to the news of the city and it conditions, we saw that when he heard that the walls were broken down, he wept, he prayed, and he fasted. Last week we talked about what do we do when we hear about Gods house in trouble?

Nehemiah had great passion for the things of God and he is a great example for us today. We will all at some point in our life come face to face with opposition and problems, the question we need top know is how will we respond to they when they come.

In chapter 1 we see his response to the news, in chapter 2 he is sent and he inspects the walls, in chapter 3 we read who the builders are. But in chapter 4 we see how the builder faced oppositions and problems and how they over came them. We would do well to learn from this story today, of how we can learn for opposition and problems.

Neh 4:1-3

4:1When Sanballat heard that we were rebuilding the wall; he became angry and was greatly incensed. He ridiculed the Jews, 2and 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?"

3Tobiah 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!"

Neh 4:6-23

6So we rebuilt the wall till all of it reached half its height, for the people worked with all their heart. 7But when Sanballat, Tobiah, the Arabs, the Ammonites and the men of Ashdod heard that the repairs to Jerusalem’s walls had gone ahead and that the gaps were being closed, they were very angry. 8They all plotted together to come and fight against Jerusalem and stir up trouble against it. 9But we prayed to our God and posted a guard day and night to meet this threat.

10Meanwhile, the people in Judah said, "The strength of the laborers is giving out, and there is so much rubble that we cannot rebuild the wall."

11Also our enemies said, "Before they know it or see us, we will be right there among them and will kill them and put an end to the work."

12Then the Jews who lived near them came and told us ten times over, "Wherever you turn, they will attack us."

13Therefore I stationed some of the people behind the lowest points of the wall at the exposed places, posting them by families, with their swords, spears and bows. 14After I looked things over, I stood up and said to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people, "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."

15When our enemies heard that we were aware of their plot and that God had frustrated it, we all returned to the wall, each to his own work.

16From that day on, half of my men did the work, while the other half were equipped with spears, shields, bows and armor. The officers posted themselves behind all the people of Judah 17who were building the wall. Those who carried materials did their work with one hand and held a weapon in the other, 18and each of the builders wore his sword at his side as he worked. But the man who sounded the trumpet stayed with me.

19Then I said to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people, "The work is extensive and spread out, and we are widely separated from each other along the wall. 20Wherever you hear the sound of the trumpet, join us there. Our God will fight for us!"

21So we continued the work with half the men holding spears, from the first light of dawn till the stars came out. 22At that time I also said to the people, "Have every man and his helper stay inside Jerusalem at night, so they can serve us as guards by night and workmen by day." 23Neither I nor my brothers nor my men nor the guards with me took off our clothes; each had his weapon, even when he went for water.


1. Opposition is an unavoidable by-product of obedience to God.

2 Tim 3:12 “In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted,”

Believers can expect oppositions when they do God’s work. Unbelievers and evil spiritual forces are always working against God and his people. The opposition may offer compromising alliances, or they may attempt to discourage and intimidate us, or accuse us unjustly. If you expect these tactics, don’t be halted by them. Move ahead with the work God has planned for you, and trust him to show you how to overcome the obstacles.

I know of churches that wanted to build but came up against opposition, one church want to build but a man on the city council did not want on his way to work see a church in his neighborhood. But right across the street is a shopping mall.

If there is one thing that the Devil hates the most is the people of God who are walking in obedience to God.

2. Opposition is an opportunity to show strength of character.

Luke 10:3 “Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves.”


Jesus said he was sending his disciples out “like lambs among wolves.” They would have to be careful, because they would surely meet with opposition. We too are sent into the world like lamb among wolves.

Opposition show you what you are made of, when Nehemiah was faced with opposition his character was seen, he did not run from opposition, but faced and overcame the opposition.

When I think of people who were able to look opposition in the eye and forge ahead, one of the first who comes to mind is Mary Kay. She has built quite an organization. She overcame a lot of obstacles in her career, and she never let failure or opposition get the better of her.

Mary Kay’s first career was in direct sales, and she was quite successful. But she also found that it was difficult for a woman to progress in the corporate world, in the 1950s and early 1960s—even after twenty-five years of success. So she decided to retire.

Her retirement didn’t last long. By the time a month passed, she was stir-crazy. She was ready to start her own business. She decided on a cosmetics business that would give every woman who worked in it unlimited opportunities. She purchased the formulas to the best beauty products she’d ever found, worked up a marketing plan, and prepared to set up a corporation.

It didn’t take long for her to hit her first opposition. When she visited her attorney to make legal arrangements for the corporation, he insulted her and predicted her failure. “Mary Kay,” he said, “if you are going to throw away your life savings, why don’t you just go directly to the trash can? It will be so much easier than what you are proposing.” Her accountant spoke to her in similar terms.

Despite their attempts to discourage her, she moved ahead. She sank her $5,000 life savings into her new business—every cent she had. She put her husband in charge of the administrative side of things as she worked to prepare the products, design the packaging, write the training materials, and recruit consultants. They were making progress. But then a month before she was to open for business, her husband died of a heart attack right at their kitchen table.

Most people would never have been able to go on after that. They would have accepted defeat and faded away. But not Mary Kay. She kept going, and on September 13, 1963, she launched her business. Today, the company has more than $1 billion in annual sales, employs 3,500 people, and empowers 500,00 direct-sale consultants in 29 markets worldwide.

Opposition is an opportunity to show strength of character.

3. Opposition sometimes reveals peoples fear of change.

John 3:19-21

19This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. 21But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God."


Many people don’t want their lives exposed to God’s light because they are afraid of what will be revealed. They don’t want to be changed. Don’t be surprised when these same people are threatened by your desire to obey God and do what is right, because they are afraid that the light in you may expose some of the darkness in their lives. Rather than giving in to discouragement, keep praying that they will come to see how much better it is to live in light than in darkness.

Many times when I was a youth pastor I would run into peoples fear of change, when we wanted to reach the youth that did not come to church, many people became afraid of the change,


1. Problems test our faith.

Neh 4:8-9

8They all plotted together to come and fight against Jerusalem and stir up trouble against it. 9But we prayed to our God and posted a guard day and night to meet this threat.


When problems arose Nehemiah did not question God as to why are you allowing this God, no he went to his knees and prayed. Sometimes when you go to do the work of God he will allow your faith to be tested to see what’s in your heart.

2. Problems open up opportunities for service.

Phil. 1:12 (TLB)

“And I want you to know this, dear brothers: Everything that has happened to me here has been a great boast in getting out the Good News concerning Christ.

Being imprisoned would cause many people to become bitter or to give up, but Paul saw it as one more opportunity to spread the Good News of Christ. Paul realized that his current circumstances weren’t as important as what he did with them. Turning a bad situation into a good one, he reached out to the Roman soldiers who made up the palace guard and encouraged those Christians who were afraid of persecution.

We may not be in prison, but we still have plenty of opportunity to be discouraged. How we act in such situations will reflect what we believe. Like Paul, look for ways to demonstrate your faith even in bad situations.

3. Problems may be confirmation that we are living for Christ.

II Thes. 1:5 “This is only one example of the fair, just way God does things. For he is using your suffering to make you ready for his Kingdom.