WHEN GOD CHOOSES TO REBUILD THE WALLS THERE WILL BE OPPOSITION.
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OPPOSITION TO THE REBUILDING WILL COME
FROM WITHIN AND WITHOUT
“Remember Tobiah and Sanballat, O my God,
because of what they have done;
remember also the prophetess Noadiah
and the rest of the prophets
who have been trying to intimidate me.”
Complete Text: Ezra, Nehemiah
You say, what a strange verse. Yet it holds wisdom for those who seek the Lord wholeheartedly, and a great warning.
Nehemiah had received a task from God. He was to rebuild the wall of
, the original wall of protection built by David and Solomon, and he had the backing of the King of Persia, Artaxerxes. Ezra had spearheaded the rebuilding of the temple years earlier, with the backing of then King of Persia Cyrus, and now God commissioned Nehemiah to complete this important work. Jerusalem
Several things we learn from these two important Old Testament books:
1. God was the one who called and appointed both Ezra and Nehemiah.
2. God uses even pagans such as Cyrus and Artaxerxes to support the way for His work when He chooses, though He does not allow them to participate actively.
3. When God chooses to build His Kingdom there will be much opposition.
4. This opposition will come from outside enemies, those who are of the world and who are easily identifiable (such as Sanballat and Tobiah), who will be vocal and active opponents of the work.
5. This opposition will also come from those who claim to be part of the very work God is doing—such as Noadiah the prophetess and many other “prophets” within the churches.
The verse above gives us a graphic example of the kind of opposition we will face when we get right with God, repent of our sins and the sins of the churches, and set about rebuilding our lives and the lives of others in accordance with the gospel of Christ.
We must be ready for opposition.
- MANY OF GOD’S PEOPLE DON’T SEE THEIR SIN, NOR WISH TO REPENT OF IT.
We must be strong, as Nehemiah was, and root out the sin in our own life by the power of the Spirit of God, and also call for the rooting out of sin in the lives of those around us, as both Ezra and Nehemiah did. The call to repentance was the core element in their work.
- THOSE WHO WANT TO WORK ON BUILDING THE BODY OF CHRIST MUST BE OF CHRIST and IN CHRIST.
We must demand that all who would participate in the
be “set apart” for Christ. Many wanted to join the work who were not truly of God. The surrounding people groups who weren’t of Kingdom of God (now they are those who do not truly trust or know Christ) wanted to get in on the work, and be part of building this glorious temple to God. It was the chance to start an “ecumenical” movement, and God rejected it, which meant Ezra and Nehemiah both had to turn down offers of help from those not of the Kingdom. Israel
- THOSE WHO WOULD BUILD THE KINGDOM MUST FORSAKE ALL THESE AND BE SEPARATED FROM THEIR FOREIGN GODS.
Both Nehemiah and Ezra faced a problem. There had been much intermarrying of Jews and the foreign nations around them. This was direct disobedience to the Word of God. It meant that there was unequal yoking, such as we face in the churches today. Many who claim to follow Christ have intertwined their lives with the pagan world to such an extent that this compromise has weakened the Body and caused it to be drawn away by other gods, such as the love of money, the love of comfort, an attachment to secret sin, and greed, corruption, hatred, and lust. We must let Christ break the yoke of these attachments, or not be involved at all in the work within the Body.
- WE MUST UNDERSTAND AND ACCEPT THE FACT THAT GOD’S ENEMIES PLAY ON BOTH SIDES OF THE BALL.
In the Kingdom, the tares are often sitting alongside the wheat, and they will act in their own interests, rather than in the interests of Christ Jesus. This means, like the prophetess Noadiah and her ilk, they will oppose the true work of God in favor of religious ideas that aren’t necessarily in line with Christ’s calling and work in His people. We know from Nehemiah that many prophets actually tried to dissuade the people from completing the wall, and worked hand in hand with special interest groups from outside the city. These tares will be our enemies, and must be prayed over and called out when they oppose Christ’s rebuilding of His Church.
Brothers, we must resist the temptation to give up on the huge task in front of us, this rebuilding process in the Kingdom. So many are intermarried. So many who claim Christ and who say they belong to God are allied in many ways with the world, and in love with the world. So many claim holy office, such as prophet or minister or preacher or teacher, and yet have little faith, little holiness, and great arrogance and pride. They will resist every move the Spirit makes. We must, like Ezra and Nehemiah, ignore them, and not spend our time with them, worrying about their feelings or problems. We must be about the work, and encourage and strengthen the laborers on the temple and on the wall.
Remember, it is God who “works and wills according to His good pleasure”. Even our own salvation is not our own work. It is the work of Christ in us, and the rebuilding of His own Body is His task first. We are only His helpers in it. Christ will prevail.