Summary: Anytime there is a new initiative in the kingdom of God, resistance will arise. Where God is at work, the enemy is also at work. Rebuilding the wall of Jerusalem was certainly no exception to this. When people take kingdom priorities seriously, people res
Don Jones tells the story of a close friend who pastored in the Phoenix area but God had laid on his heart the desire to start new churches. He left to go plant a church in another state. 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 of God. As soon as he arrived to start the new church, the associational mission director told him of opposition. One of his detractors in the Phoenix area had taken his vacation in the area where he was to start the work. The detractor met with each pastor of the cooperating church as well as its leadership. The man told all kinds of lies about him and eventually destroyed the beginning of a new church. Anytime there is a new initiative in the kingdom of God, resistance will arise. Where God is at work, the enemy is also at work. Rebuilding the wall of Jerusalem was certainly no exception to this. When people take kingdom priorities seriously, people resist the work of God. This is what Nehemiah learned. The last three weeks, we were introduced to the families, groups and individuals who were rebuilding the walls. We discovered that in kingdom work, no one can do everything, but everyone can do something. And, because the people worked with all their heart, the construction was really zipping along. Things were going well, the people were excited, and the wall was going up. But then opposition started to arise against the rebuilding the walls.
There are three sources of resistance we usually have to contend with. The first is outsiders. Opposition usually arisse from people in the world. Warren Wiersbe writes, “God’s people sometimes have difficulty working together, but the people of the world have no problem uniting in opposition to the work of the Lord.” Nehemiah experiences this. There are 3 co-conspirators: Sanballat the Horonite, who is the governor to the north, Tobiah the Ammonite official, who is from the East and Geshem the Arab, who lives south and controls the trade going from Egypt north through Israel. This is the third time we have encountered Sanballat and every time we read about him, he’s fighting against the work of God and Nehemiah is trying. Why? Sanballat and Tobiah feared the potential of a strong Jerusalem emerging as a threat to their territory and power. Geshem feared that his import/export business would be threatened. By this time, it is obvious that the Jews are serious about the rebuilding the walls and that real progress is being made. Sanballat and Tobiah it’s time to do something about it before it goes too far.
We expect resistance to come from our enemies but it can also come from insiders, that is family and friends. What’s amazing is that opposition often comes from the sources we least expect: the people closest to us, those who are supposed to encourage and support us. It can even come from those within the body of Christ. Mark Mittelberg tells the story of a man named Jim who had a passion for God, a love for people, and a burden to share the message of God’s forgiveness with people who had not heard it. The big question for Jim was, “How can I get the unchurched who are so different from me to see how much God loves them?” Well, he decided to take some risks and really try. So, he went all out! First, he shaved his head right down to the skin- all except for one little patch of hair which he grew out long. He started wearing it in a pigtail and even dyed it a different color, trying to fit in with the customs of the crowd he was trying to reach. Jim changed the way he dressed, what he ate, and even the way he talked so he could communicate God’s love to this group. He read the books they read and did everything he could do to establish common ground with them. In fact, he even moved into the same neighborhood as them. Unfortunately, Jim faced outright rejection from the very people he cared so much about: his own church family. Instead of getting behind him and encouraging him, they actually started saying bad things about him. Only a few close friends stuck with him and supported his efforts. Yet James Hudson Taylor and his China Inland Mission persevered in spite of the opposition and as a result, 1000’s of Chinese people came to know Jesus. Resistance often comes from those closest to you. Jesus knew that. Jesus received the most resistance and criticism not from the religious leadership of the day but from his own brothers and sisters and friends in his home town who doubted his identity.