Nehemiah 4:1-12 When Critics Attack

No matter what you do in this life there will always be someone who has to find fault. Athletes have to face criticism on a daily basis especially when their sport is in season. Most of the people who criticize I call “bleacher people”.  They are people who are not actively in the game other than yelling from a seat far away. If you are going to be in the game of life then there will always be people who will sit back and criticize and make fun of what you are doing. Today we are going to see the opposition you will face when you become a Kingdom builder but these same principles apply to whatever you try to do in this life.

Although criticism comes from whatever you do, I do believe that you will face more opposition when you set out to do what God has called you to do. In fact, before you decide you want to serve God whole heartedly, there is a bit of warning that Jesus gives us.

Luke 14:26-30, 33 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. 27 Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. 28 For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? 29 Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, 30 saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish. …  So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple

When you decide to raise your family the way God wants you to, then you will face opposition from people who will tell you how wrong you are . When you decide to serve God in an area of ministry there will be people who will try and direct you into another direction or criticize you to the point that you want to quit. So keep in mind that these people exist and if you can keep from becoming discouraged by them then you will become a better person because they are in your life.

Criticism: the act of finding fault

Not all criticism or critics are bad and we need critics in our lives to help us improve.The Critics and criticism I am dealing with today is people that are not criticizing you for your benefit, but are criticizing you for your destruction. There is a big difference and you need to realize that some people truly love you and they want you to succeed but if you see all criticism as a negative then you will never grow to be the person you need to be and accomplish the things God has for you to accomplish.

Read Nehemiah 4:1-6

1)   Critics attack when they lose control

“Sanballat was angry and greatly enraged “

This was one of the rulers of the area and he was angry because he could see he would no longer be ruling over the Jews if they established their Kingdom. Sometimes people are critical of you and what you are doing simply because they are not in control of what is happening.  If you make the team and your friend did not you might receive criticism. If you get the promotion over another co-worker you might receive criticism. If you do not take someone’s advice and do things differently than they suggested then you may get criticism from them. (Happens in churches all the time) If you do not run the cooperation,  the sports team or the church like they want, it may have nothing to do with you but only that they want control.

Nehemiah did not ask permission from the rulers of the area because he had permission   from the King with all of the documentation and supplies he needed. Control freaks hate being left out and when they are scorned then they become greatly enraged. When people do not get their way then they can become critical about everything that is being done and that is where they become a pain to deal with.

2)   Critics will attack you personally

”What are these feeble Jews doing? “ Will they restore it themselves?

Sanballats  attack was accurate in the fact that the Jews were not many in number and the fact that they were not wall builders by trade. We all have weaknesses or sensitive areas in our lives and critics seem to point out exactly what those weaknesses are. The sensitive areas in our lives are the areas we do not really want people to notice or at least focus on but that is the very thing the critic attacks.

Sanballat wanted them to start believing  that they were not able to rebuild the wall so he began his attack on an area that was true about them. We all have weaknesses and how we handle our weakest areas of our life will determine how much success we have. If you look at your weakness as disqualifying you from doing the job then you will quit but if you see that your weaknesses are an opportunity for God to work through you then you will be emboldened.

2 Corinthians 12:9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

This is opposite of our culture who likes to brag about their strengths and hide their weaknesses. God is asking us to embrace our weaknesses so that He can be glorified through them. God likes to do things that we are weak in  so that it shows others that He is God. How many great stories have we read in the Old Testament where God came through. It is not about us and what we can do, it is about being obedient to what God has asked us to do. If it was up to Moses then the Red Sea would have never been parted for the children of Israel to cross.(Exodus 14)  If it were up to Elijah then the fire from heaven would not have come down and burned up the sacrifice that was soaking wet. (1 Kings 18) Do not be ashamed of your weakness because God will use you despite them to show the rest of the world what He can do.

Will they sacrifice?

This was a direct attack on God which was a personal attack on the Jews because they were making fun of the sacrificial system that God had established for His people to follow.  Many Christians today are being made fun of simply because they worship God and they have to remember that the criticism from such people is because it is people that do not want to give up control. The Christian life is all based on you surrendering yourself to God and trusting Him with your life and many people want to be the god of their own life and therefore make fun of those who follow the living God.

3)   Critics will get others to join in the attacks

Tobiah the Ammonite was beside him, and he said yes, what are they building ?

Sanballat is trying to get others to go along with him and Tobiah joins in the criticism. Like children on a playground they get others to join in the attack by repeating what the criticizer is already saying.  A good critic will evaluate you on what they see or perceive but a bad critic will just be a parrot who repeats what has already been said. Many people do not think for themselves so they just repeat what others are saying and join them in the criticism of others.

When you begin to hear the same thing from different people, that is not true, then you know they have not evaluated the situation for themselves but are only repeating what they have heard. A mob shouting the same thing does not mean something is true even though that is how it seems the majority of Americans operate.

“Critics will make fun of the work you are doing.

Will they revive the stones out of the heap of rubble and the burned ones at that? … If a fox goes up on the wall it will fall down.

To get the stones out of the rubble they had to separate the good from the bad. This was not an easy job and required much more labor than if they were building a wall in a different location.  There is nothing in our passage that says that the stones were burned only the gates so this could have been a false accusation which is what some critics do.  they said that “If a fox goes up it would crash down but archeology has discovered that the walls were 9 feet thick so again they were making false and crazy accusations all for the purpose of trying to intimidate the workers. Just because a critic says something does not mean it is true.

Read Nehemiah 4:7-12

4)   Critics will attack you with confusion

And they all plotted together to come and fight the Jews and to cause confusion” (8)

Sanballat did a great job getting all the surrounding places to join him in his criticism of the Jews. Confusion on any project will slow things down but confusion when we are doing the things for the Kingdom of God will be costly to others.

1 Corinthians 14:33  For God is not a God of confusion but of peace.

The Apostle Paul was talking about worship in the church when he made that statement but it gives us a clue into who God is and how He operates. If things are happening where people are causing confusion and not bringing clarity then you know those things are not from God. And If they are not of God then they are from Satan. Yes, it is that simple.

Sanballat was an instrument of Satan to try and destroy the wall being rebuilt Satan did not want the Jews to succeed, he wanted them wipe off the earth so that Jesus could not be born and eventually destroy Satans ultimate work of keeping people from being back in a right relationship with God. Satan, since he cannot have Christians, is still trying to bring confusion by keeping the church from being Kingdom builders. Chaos and confusion are some of the worse things that can happen in a church and they cause church splits and they are an embarrassment to the kingdom. One of the best things you can do to keep confusion out is to ask the simple question; Is it true? (Philippians 4:8) because Many critics will come with accusations that sound true and they will say they have facts and other people to back them up but they are really false statements made to cause confusion. Confusion is caused by lack of information or because someone is lying.

Plotted together

Do not miss the point that now they are so angry that they were going to do all they could to stop the progress of the Jews building the wall. Critics can become consumed with your destruction and you really have to keep a look out and be wise to what they are doing. Sanballat is now consumed with anger and is looking to destroy all the work they have done.

5)   Critics will attack you with discouragement

The strength of those who bear the burdens is failing. There is too much rubble.  By ourselves we will not be able to rebuild the wall.

The Jews began to believe the things that were being said about them and the impossibility of the project. The critics with their false accusations wore down the Jews to the point that they wanted to quit.

The Jews from the nearby towns returned to us and begged us to come home

Discouragement also began to hit the families of those who were serving. The families of those who had gone to serve were so concerned for their family members and the possibility that they would be attacked that they were begging them to stop the work and come home. Families are a priority but they are not your number one priority, God is. Satan will even use family members to try and keep you from building the Kingdom so you have to discern what God wants you to do. If Critics cannot discourage you then they will discourage your family and they will make sure they repeat themselves enough where others believe what they are saying even though there is no truth to their statements.


We will look at next week how Nehemiah dealt with his critics and we will see in the upcoming chapters how the critics continued to destroy the work but I think this quote from Warren Weirsbe will help encourage you.

“Opposition is not only an evidence that God is blessing, but is also an opportunity for us to grow. The difficulties that came to the work brought out the best in Nehemiah and his people. Satan wanted to use these problems as weapons to destroy the work, but God used them as tools to build His people. “(Be Determined, Warren W. Wiersbe, pg. 59)

James 1:2-4 Count it all joy, my brothers,[a] when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

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