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Summary: In any good and worthwhile project Satan will throw opposition our way

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Visioneering

The Reality of Opposition

Nehemiah 4

Matthew Sullivan

A Quaker farmer was having a hard time with his mule. No matter what he tried the mule would not get up. He told the mule I am a Quaker and you know I cannot hit you and I cannot curse you. However, I can sell you to my neighbor and he is not a Quaker and can beat the living daylights out of you.

We have all felt like that Quaker at times. We are aware of ways we cannot or should not respond to opposition. What we want is a permissible way to whip it.

Nehemiah is now facing opposition. He has begun the reconstruction. Things are going well and that is now a threat to his foes. These men have one priority that is because they want to keep the Jews weak. If Jerusalem was strong then that would endanger the balance of power in the region, and it would also rob Sanballat and his friends of influence and wealth. Sanballat would have the most to lose of course. As Governor of Samaria he had the most power. The Governors of the past took cues from him. The fact that the Jews would rebuild without him was infuriating. He was losing control and he didn’t like it.

Nehemiah 4:1-3

“When Sanballat heard that we were rebuilding the wall, he became angry and was greatly incensed. He ridiculed the Jews, 2 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?" 3 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!"

Expect Opposition

Ralph W. Emerson said, “Whatever course you decide upon, there is always someone to tell you are wrong.” Someone once said, “For every action, there is an equal and opposite criticism.” In other words, don’t be surprised by criticism. It was Aristotle who said, “You can avoid opposition by saying nothing, doing nothing, being nothing!” You’re going to be attacked if you begin to live out God’s vision. Anticipate and prepare for it. I don’t mean to suggest that all criticism is wrong. But I am suggesting that you will have to learn how to handle it if you’re going to life a life of vision. Anybody that is trying to do something for God will face opposition. Opposition is an unavoidable by-product of obedience to God. You can bank on it. Jesus told his disciples "All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved." (Mark 13:13)

Look starting at verse 1. When Sanballat heard that we were rebuilding the wall, he became angry and was greatly incensed. He ridiculed the Jews, 2 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?" 3 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!" (Nehemiah 4:1-3).

From the moment word got out about the wall there was criticism and opposition. Sanballat really begin to make fun of Nehemiah and the Jews in general. Never be surprised by criticism. Expect it. You can guarantee that no matter what decision you make, no matter what actions you take, you will be criticized. It’s just a fact. There’s not a person in the Bible who did anything for God and was not opposed. If Jesus was criticized, you will be criticized too.

Why will you be opposed? For one thing, vision is a very easy thing to criticize. Nehemiah had a vision, and visions attract criticism. To make it worse, visions are very difficult to defend against criticism. “The very nature of a vision is that there is far more solid information on the side of the equation than the how side” (Andy Stanley). A cynic will always be able to poke holes through a vision – even a God-given vision. That’s just the nature of what a vision is.

Here is a truth you need to know. When things are going well, look out for trouble, the enemy doesn’t want the work of the Lord to progress.

Success Breeds Opposition: Opposition is almost always caused by success and not failure. Sanballat was upset because of Nehemiah’s success. Had Nehemiah been a failure it wouldn’t have mattered.

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