In our story we will see the Sanballat goes from a critic to an enemy because he wants to destroy the Jewish people. Sometimes critics will do more than just make verbal threats but also try to do things to destroy the very thing you are working on. Sanballat now is threatening and attack with all the surrounding armies which is causing fear and confusion among the people.
Fear is a powerful tool that the enemy uses to make us hesitate. If you have ever been walking into your house and then you heard a weird noise you know what it means to pause or slow down from what you are doing. The unknown can always cause fear and because of that fear you have a tendency to not move forward like you should.
We have an enemy and we call him Satan and one of the things that Satan does is strike fear into us to keep us from moving forward with the work of God. We fear who might be elected. We fear what might happen to the economy. We fear many things that we cannot control because we are not sure of the future. We will see today that the Jewish people begin to fear and we will see how Nehemiah dealt with it so we can also learn how to handle fear.
Read Nehemiah 4:4-5
1) Talk to God about your enemies
When you are working hard to do all you can to do God’s will or to get a project done and you are already exhausted and then you get the criticism and even threats it is all you can do to not explode in anger or run in fear. Nehemiah went straight to God and spoke honestly and openly with Him about the situation. So many times God is the last one we talk to about what is happening to us and He should be the first one we always go to. If we are really a friend of God (John 15:13-15) then He is the first one we should talk with.
Turn back their taunt on their own heads
Nehemiah prayed that God would allow them to experience what they were wishing for Nehemiah to experience. Nehemiah does not want revenge for his own sake but for the sake of God and what they said about him. Part of their personal attack was to make fun of their religion which was an attack on God. So Nehemiah is asking that Gods Glory not be ridiculed and not his own. We like to pray against others when we get hurt but the only one that should matter is God. Do not take Nehemiah’s prayer as a prayer for vengeance for what his enemy was doing to him because that was not the intent of Nehemiah’s prayer.
Psalm 5:9-10 For there is no truth in their mouth; their inmost self is destruction; their throat is an open grave; they flatter with their tongue.10 Make them bear their guilt, O God; let them fall by their own counsels; because of the abundance of their transgressions cast them out, for they have rebelled against you.
David was one that also talked to God about his enemies and the lies they were saying about him. David said these people had No truth in them, they were filled with only destroying others, what they said was filled with death, and they use their tongue to try and persuade others. Once again David left the judgment to God for the things they were doing. You will always have people like this in your life who are looking to destroy you verbally so we need to learn to be open and honest with God in our prayer life.
This was not Nehemiah’s vision for his life; he had a comfortable life serving the King while living in the palace. He had great accommodations, great food, great clothes and was used by the King as a consultant. If God owns your life, and you are doing are His will for your life, then it is His responsibility to deal with your enemies. Following God does not mean that there will not be those who oppose you and even criticize and try to destroy the work you are doing. Following God means that you trust Him every step of the way and that includes dealing with your enemies.
Matthew 5:43-44 You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,
Make sure you are talking to God about your enemies.
Read Nehemiah 4: 13-23
2) Protect yourself from your enemies
Matthew 10:16 Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.
If we are going to be used by God then we have to engage the world, and when you engage the world enemies will appear. (2 Corinthians 2:14-16) Jesus told them to be wise as serpents because the serpent was thought to be smart but yet cautious while the dove was innocent and pure. Jesus did not say play it safe and to be comfortable, but He was honest with His disciples that Christ followers would be like a sheep walking out into the woods where the wolves are. We are to count on God for our protection but we should also not be foolish especially when we know someone is trying to destroy us.
One of the sayings I have heard a long time ago was “Do not give your enemy the ammunition to destroy you”. I am not sure who said it but the thought goes that if you enemy is looking to kill you then you do not want to give them the bullet that allows them to accomplish their mission.
1 Peter 2:12 Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.
When your enemy starts making accusations about you then it turns the spot light toward you and people are looking for anything to prove their accusations true. We have to live such good lives that no matter what lies they say about us those lies will not be seen in our actions.
Nehemiah did not take his enemies lightly and he prepared for their attacks, even though they did not come. We must never forget we have an enemy that is out to destroy us(1 Peter 5:8) and if we take the enemy lightly, or if we do not prepare for his attacks then we also will be destroyed.
When our enemies heard it was known to us
Sanballat did not attack because he knew that the Jews were ready for them. This is a lesson for all of us that we need to be ready for the attacks of those who are out to destroy us. They say a thief will hit the easiest target so to protect yourself you make sure you do not become an easy target. This is part of being as wise as a snake that is cautious about the surroundings around him.
Ephesians 6:10-18 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. 14 Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. 16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; 17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, 18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,
We forget that we live in a world that is more than flesh and blood and we have to prepare ourselves for the attacks that will come from demonic forces that want to destroy us and the work of God. Satan will use people in your life to cause fear, discouragement and frustrations to keep you from doing the will of God. Your job is to discern if the people are sent by God or by Satan. Some of the people that Nehemiah would have to have discernment about were his own Jewish brothers who did not want to see the wall finished.Just because someone goes to church does not mean that they have the mind of God or their thoughts are on doing Gods will. Some of the people Satan uses are good moral people who think they are doing God’s will.
3) Focus on those who are for you more than your enemy who is against you.
The work is great and wide spread and we are separated far from one another
When doing the work of God there will be times that you feel alone and that no one else is there to help you. (1 Kings 19) This will lead to discouragement because you will not be able to see all that God is doing behind the scenes to fulfill His plans and purposes. The people were so spread out that some of them felt like they were the only ones who were working and the only ones who were sacrificing for the Kingdom. When the enemy is planning to attack and you feel alone and outnumbered that is when you need reassurance from other brothers and sisters in Christ that you are not alone. Hebrews 10:24-25 encourages us to not forget to get with other Christians so that we can be encouraged to continue the work of God.
Nehemiah reminded them that they are not alone and then Nehemiah came up with a plan to put their minds at ease if the enemy did attack. Nehemiah’s plan was simply to have a trumpet blowing where the enemy was attacking and everyone would rally to come and help. Sometimes when dealing with your enemies you just have to know who is for you and that they will be there for you when times get rough.
I have begun to hate the word “Feel”. Many people will make decisions based on how they feel and not on the truth about the situation. Nehemiah wanted them all to know that although they may FEEL alone they are not, and although they may FEEL like the only ones working that others are doing the work in other places.
When you FEEL alone then you will focus on your enemies instead of the task at hand. Think of a time when one person said something negative about you and think about how much time you spent dwelling on that one person.We tend to focus on the one negative person in our life than the ten positive, uplifting people in our lives.
Do not believe what your enemy is saying about you more than the people who love you.
Let every man and his servant pass the night within Jerusalem, that they may be a guard for us by night and may labor by day.
They had each others back and made sure that the enemy would not be able to sneak up on them. We also need each other to make sure that the enemy does not attack us as well. We need people who can spot things in our life that is not right and who are not afraid to tell us about it so that those things do not destroy us. Who do you have in your life that would have your back no matter what? If your answer is no one then why is that? Is it because you have not had their back when they needed you? The saying is true that you have to be a friend to have a friend, so if you are not surrounded by people that have your back start being that person who has other peoples backs and you will soon find you have a ton of friends.
4) Don’t make your enemy bigger than God.
“God will frustrated their plans” (15) “Our God will fight for us” (20)
We make our enemies and our obstacles bigger than our God. We make the situations we are facing bigger than the God we serve. We fear, we fret we get anxious and angry because we forget that God is bigger than anything we might face.
2 Kings 6:15-18 When the servant of the man of God rose early in the morning and went out, behold, an army with horses and chariots was all around the city. And the servant said, “Alas, my master! What shall we do?” 16 He said, “Do not be afraid, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” 17 Then Elisha prayed and said, “O Lord, please open his eyes that he may see.” So the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw, and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. 18 And when the Syrians came down against him, Elisha prayed to the Lord and said, “Please strike this people with blindness.” So he struck them with blindness in accordance with the prayer of Elisha.
Whatever you are facing never forget that God is bigger and He already has a plan.
We need to learn to turn to God in prayer over the things that have us anxious and worried
God can handle our enemies so we need to trust in Him that there is a purpose for them in our lives.
Have you talked to God about your enemies?
Are you living a good life in front of your enemies?
Are you focusing on those who are with you?
Have you forgotten how big your God is?
1 Corinthians 15:58 Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.
Never let your enemies and especially the enemy keep you from doing what God has called you to do.