Walking Through Ephesians

Walking Through Ephesians

“Nehemiah said, (“Oh No” to Ono)”

Categories: Lessons on Leadership

We like to make a good impression. Most of us care about our appearance. Most of us want others to see us in the best possible light. That’s a natural thing; it’s a normal thing to want to be liked.  At least, for me it is. I want people to like me. However, those who do great works for God will have to endure personal attacks. They did it to the prophets; they did it to Jesus; they did it to Nehemiah. From his example we can learn how to handle it when it happens to us. 

“Now it happened when Sanballat, Tobiah, Geshem the Arab, and the rest of our enemies heard that I had rebuilt the wall, and that there were no breaks left in it (though at that time I had not hung the doors in the gates), that Sanballat and Geshem sent to me…”  (Neh. 6:1-2)

The work is almost finished. All the bricks are in place. The only thing left is to put the gates in place. The reason that took longer is because the gates were made from wood and then covered with metal so that they wouldn’t burn up in case of an attack by fire. As soon as they hang those gates the wall will be finished. 

I think it’s significant that the next attack came when Nehemiah had nearly finished his mission. Just as everybody was planning the ribbon cutting ceremony, Satan has fired his final attempt to derail the project. Satan loves to hit us again just when we think we have cleared all the major hurdles. Just when we think we have conquered all the obstacles and we are on the home stretch, he strikes.

This time that attack is personal. “But they thought to do me harm.” (Neh. 6:2b). The problem is that the enemies have been threatening Nehemiah and the people with violence. However, that’s not working anymore because the walls are almost completed. They have enough soldiers to guard the gates. So, they change their tactics from force to fraud. 

Nehemiah resisted Satan’s intrigues by standing firm in his priorities. “I am doing a great work and I cannot come down.”  He said, “Oh, no” to the invitation to visit Ono. He wasn’t being arrogant. He just knew that what God had given him to do was important for His sake and for His people’s sake. He was not quite finished. Walls without gates were ineffective. His priority was to finish the wall. He will not allow an unnecessary meeting with the enemy to distract him from that one aim.

Nehemiah stayed true to the dream God had put in his heart. But notice how Nehemiah handled this personal attack against his character. He said once, quickly, “It’s not true!”  Then he prayed, “God, give me strength to handle this.” Then he just kept right on doing what he was supposed to do. Nehemiah felt that the truth would ultimately prevail and that he shouldn’t spend a lot of his time and energy trying to deal with rumors and accusations. 

Nehemiah’s persistent resistance gained the victory for the Lord. When the enemies and surrounding nations saw that the wall was completed, they lost their confidence. They had to admit that this work had been accomplished because of God (6:15). Even though Nehemiah and the workers on the wall had worked hard, not even their enemies attributed their success to their hard work. Rather, they knew that it was from God.

Then we read, “So Satan gave up the battle and went home, and Nehemiah and the Jews lived happily ever after.” Not exactly!

For us today, Nehemiah is an example for us. We should work as hard as if success depended on us, but all the while we lean totally upon the Lord. We must never put confidence in our work, but only in the God who enables us to work. 

Nehemiah couldn’t kick back and admire the wall because these ongoing problems forced him to keep fighting the battle and trusting in the Lord. Sometimes we mistakenly think that some program or building project or other accomplishment will solve all our problems in the church. But we no sooner achieve our goal than other problems erupt. The Lord uses these things to keep us looking to Him rather than kicking back and trusting our work.