Today: [Nehemiah Four] Resisting the Mocker. In this chapter Sanballat the Syrian mounts resistance against Nehemiah. The walls are difficult to rebuild and now the workers must proceed with their tool in one hand and their weapon in the other. If you purpose in your life to be something other than a pew sitter you will be resisted. You will be criticized and mocked. In this chapter we see the importance of staying armed with God’s word and looking out for one another in the ongoing purposes of God.
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[Neh 4:1-23 KJV] 1 But it came to pass, that when Sanballat heard that we builded the wall, he was wroth, and took great indignation, and mocked the Jews. 2 And he spake before his brethren and the army of Samaria, and said, What do these feeble Jews? will they fortify themselves? will they sacrifice? will they make an end in a day? will they revive the stones out of the heaps of the rubbish which are burned? 3 Now Tobiah the Ammonite [was] by him, and he said, Even that which they build, if a fox go up, he shall even break down their stone wall. 4 Hear, O our God; for we are despised: and turn their reproach upon their own head, and give them for a prey in the land of captivity: 5 And cover not their iniquity, and let not their sin be blotted out from before thee: for they have provoked [thee] to anger before the builders. 6 So built we the wall; and all the wall was joined together unto the half thereof: for the people had a mind to work. 7 But it came to pass, [that] when Sanballat, and Tobiah, and the Arabians, and the Ammonites, and the Ashdodites, heard that the walls of Jerusalem were made up, [and] that the breaches began to be stopped, then they were very wroth, 8 And conspired all of them together to come [and] to fight against Jerusalem, and to hinder it.
As the work of rebuilding the walls and restoring the gates is underway the adversaries of God commence to present resistance to the project. The leader is a man named Sanballat who is a Syrian. When you begin to build the walls of God around yourself as an individual or in the community of the redeemed you are going to be resisted. As a Syrian, Sanballat represents the secular. The secular world looks at the things of God and becomes enraged when they feel excluded. We see this in the Christian businesses today that are being destroyed because they don’t want to do LGBT marriage. There are elements in the world who despise the fact that they are excluded in anyway by anybody so where the church is concerned they are keen to destroy these boundaries and force the church not only to accept them but to approve of them as well.
Sanballat begins to mock and demonstrate great anger. His pretense is that people will be hurt by what is happening and no good will come from it. You know you are dealing with a spirit of mockery when there is a moral accusation brought against you suggesting that people are being harmed in some way because of what you are doing. This is a very effective strategy. In the media when accusations against a well known ministry comes forth – lives are destroyed with just the suggestion of impropriety. We as kingdom minded people must make up our mind not to believe every word but to judge righteous judgment.
When the Branch Davidians in Waco, Texas would not surrender to authorities the FBI and ATF bombarded them for days with mockery and loud audio at deafening decibels until finally moving in and burning the compound to the ground with everyone in it. The only actual crime they were guilt of were weapons charges but the government could not stand the fact that they were being resisted and the end result was utter and horrible tragedy. There is a spirit in the world that hates and despises the church and becomes completely incensed when they feel they are somehow excluded. We may try to remove this from our doctrine but separation is a core tenet of the Christian faith. The requirement to come to God through Jesus Christ or suffer eternal damnation is an undeniable yet increasingly unpopular message even in the most conservative Christian circles.
9 Nevertheless we made our prayer unto our God, and set a watch against them day and night, because of them. 10 And Judah said, The strength of the bearers of burdens is decayed, and [there is] much rubbish; so that we are not able to build the wall. 11 And our adversaries said, They shall not know, neither see, till we come in the midst among them, and slay them, and cause the work to cease. 12 And it came to pass, that when the Jews which dwelt by them came, they said unto us ten times, From all places whence ye shall return unto us [they will be upon you]. 13 Therefore set I in the lower places behind the wall, [and] on the higher places, I even set the people after their families with their swords, their spears, and their bows. 14 And I looked, and rose up, and said unto the nobles, and to the rulers, and to the rest of the people, Be not ye afraid of them: remember the Lord, [which is] great and terrible, and fight for your brethren, your sons, and your daughters, your wives, and your houses. 15 And it came to pass, when our enemies heard that it was known unto us, and God had brought their counsel to nought, that we returned all of us to the wall, every one unto his work. 16 And it came to pass from that time forth, [that] the half of my servants wrought in the work, and the other half of them held both the spears, the shields, and the bows, and the habergeons; and the rulers [were] behind all the house of Judah. 17 They which builded on the wall, and they that bare burdens, with those that laded, [every one] with one of his hands wrought in the work, and with the other [hand] held a weapon.
The resistance of Sanballat greatly hindered the work of God. The whole point of Sanballat’s threats was to keep the city vulnerable and without strength. Sanballat was joined by Tobias the Ammonite, the Arabians, and the Ashdodites. The Ammonites were close of kin to the Jews being descended from Lot and his incestuous union with his daughters. After the mockery of the secular world the greatest despising of the work of God in your life will be from your near kin. Jesus spoke of this when He said “a prophet is not without honor except in his own city and among his own kin…” The Arabians were the ancestors of Islam. Islam represents dead and legalistic religion. The secular world will mock you, family members will mock you and your brothers and sisters in Christ who are steeped in religious spirits will often mock the thing that God does in your life. This can be painful because they always have the air of superiority. Remember the Arabians descended from Ishmael – Isaacs older brother. When people come to you suggesting they have been around longer, and they want to correct you from their more experienced perspective you are dealing with a spirit of mockery. You must let the word of God discern the situation and act accordingly. We don’t wrestle against flesh and blood but we must identify when the enemy uses flesh and blood relationship to resist the work of God in our life.
The Jews were also resisted by the Ashdodites. Ashdod was a city of the Philistines. Ashdod is where the ark was captured and placed in the temple of Dagon. Dagon was a fertility god. The name of the city means “we will devour and destroy you…” The people of Ashdod when they took the ark thought they were capturing God Himself. This is a sobering moment and it is important to us to realize that when you are mocked and attacked the enemy isn’t coming against you – he is coming against the presence of God in your life. He really couldn’t care less about what happens to you – he is just jealous of the favor of God and blessing of God in your life. People around you that do not rejoice when you are blessed are confederates with Sanballat and the spirit of mockery.
18 For the builders, every one had his sword girded by his side, and [so] builded. And he that sounded the trumpet [was] by me. 19 And I said unto the nobles, and to the rulers, and to the rest of the people, The work [is] great and large, and we are separated upon the wall, one far from another. 20 In what place [therefore] ye hear the sound of the trumpet, resort ye thither unto us: our God shall fight for us. 21 So we laboured in the work: and half of them held the spears from the rising of the morning till the stars appeared. 22 Likewise at the same time said I unto the people, Let every one with his servant lodge within Jerusalem, that in the night they may be a guard to us, and labour on the day. 23 So neither I, nor my brethren, nor my servants, nor the men of the guard which followed me, none of us put off our clothes, [saving that] every one put them off for washing.
You must proceed with the work of God with your sword (the word of God) in your hand. This is the bible and also the word of prophecy over your life. Paul told Timothy in 1 Tim. 1:18 to war a good warfare by the word of God spoken by prophecy. As you go about to obey God you must stay armed with what God is saying and what God has said. As each person built along the wall they kept their weapons in their hand so as not to be caught unawares and defeated. They were also guarded from behind by their fellow workers. In the things of God we need to look out for one another. This is a great need in Christian culture today. When we hear criticisms of our brothers and sisters in Christ it is in error to listen silently and just nod our head. We need to be bold enough to correct those who mock and find fault with those who are working in the work of God. Those who sit back in inactivity or who think they should be in charge will always mock those who are doing something. Make up your mind when those whisperers come that you will have the back of your fellow workers. We need to provide a united front against the spirit of mockery when it focuses it’s energies on what God is doing around us.
We also see that as the people worked they were positioned far from one another. If they wanted their priority to be to stay close to each other – little work would be done. When you are in the work of God you won’t always have time to spend with each other as you would like. You will either seek the kingdom or seek out one another’s company. There is a time and a place to maintain and foster close relationships but not at the expense of the work of God that must be done. Do not allow yourself to become distracted or feel isolated when you don’t get to connect with those of like heart. The time will come – in the mean time keep working, keep seeking the kingdom.
Lastly Nehemiah required the people to take rest. They barely had time to change clothes but when they rested the did so within the safety of the repaired walls. They looked out for one another and saw to it that each worker got the proper rest. I remember as a young pastor a particular woman who saw herself as spiritual would come by the parsonage – and unless I was reading my bible or in the prayer closet she would express disapproval – as though being at rest was somehow not spiritual. Make it your determination that you don’t have to live a life of enforced spirituality. Likewise give your leaders and your brothers and sisters in Christ the privilege of taking rest and enjoyment of life, and stand by them when they do. The work of building the walls and restoring the gates is an ongoing and demanding project (or should be) in every life. Things won’t get done in a day. We need to stay on guard and we need to look out for one another and maintain solidarity with each other against the spirit of mocker when it comes to resist what God is doing in our lives.
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