But when Sanballat, Tobiah, the Arabs, the Ammonites and the people of Ashdod heard that the repairs to Jerusalem’s walls had gone ahead and that the gaps were being closed, they were very angry. They all plotted together to come and fight against Jerusalem and stir up trouble against it. — Nehemiah 4:7,8 (NIV)
WWII was the first war where airpower played a decisive role, and one saying among pilots from that conflict was, “You know you’re over the target when the flak is heaviest.”
In today’s English, “flak” can mean “shots from anti-aircraft guns” but also “criticism.” The point is the same. Many times in life when you’re where you’re supposed to be, doing what you’re supposed to do, some people aren’t going to like it, because you’re threatening their status quo. Sooner or later, they’ll let you know they’re not happy.
In today’s scripture, the leader Nehemiah was leading the Jews to rebuild the walls around the Holy city of Jerusalem. However, some people liked Jerusalem being weak and broken down, and a revitalized Jerusalem was a threat to their prosperity and power.
According to “Responding to Opposition” on Bible.org, this story from Nehemiah shows at least six types of opposition. Since as the Bible says, “there is nothing new under the sun” (Eccl. 1:9), we still face these kinds of opposition today. They are:
- Anger of others against you
- Mockery and sarcasm
- Threats and intimidation
- Discouragement and exhaustion
Nehemiah responded wisely. When the naysayers tried to sidetrack him by getting him to attend fruitless meetings where they could attack him to his face, he responded by refusing to take their bait and instead stayed focused on his task. He wrote, “so I replied by sending this message to them: ‘I am engaged in a great work, so I can’t come. Why should I stop working to come and meet with you?’” (Neh. 6:3 NLT).
Are you beset by opposition? Is someone trying to block your progress by using anger, sarcasm, or maybe even threats? If so, you’re in good company. When the Apostle Paul was writing about ministry opportunities in Ephesus, he claimed “There is a wide-open door for a great work here, although many oppose me.” (I Cor. 16:9 NLT).
When you resolve to obey the Bible and seek God’s will for your life, satan won’t send you a congratulatory telegram and put a smiling emoji on your social media page. He will fight you every step of the way. So, expect opposition, focus on your task, and remember what Grandma used to say: “Nothing good comes easy.”