Have you ever had it happen that just as you are starting to experience some progress in life, then the critics, the mockers, and the underminers increase their sabotage? Our own growth and development threatens the status quo. When people are threatened, they push back and seek to undo our progress.
This is the kind of dynamic that was at work in Nehemiah’s time. Many of God’s people had returned from exile to begin rebuilding the city of Jerusalem. A generation had passed since the Babylonian conquest of the city. The surrounding people had become accustomed to Israel as a defeated people and Jerusalem as a weak, defenseless city.
Nehemiah, under the inspiration of God, had a vision for the rebuilding of the city and, more importantly, the people. His plans not only helped re-establish the city’s defensive walls, but also instilled pride and ownership once again in the hearts of the people.
The critics started out with simple mockery (v1-3) but then laid plans for destructive violence (v 7-9). The forces of sabotage were underway.
Nehemiah, however, encouraged the Israelites to not be afraid of the critics around them (v 14). He rooted this encouragement in three things:
- His own personal prayer habits. Verses 4 and 5 record for us Nehemiah’s prayer as he heard about the opposition from the mockers. Nehemiah took his concerns straight to God and sought His protective power.
- His careful planning. Verses 13 and 16-20 outline the plans that Nehemiah laid to protect his people. Faith in God’s deliverance does not mean we neglect action. Rather, faith is what gives us hope that our actions will bear fruit.
- God’s faithfulness to His people. Nehemiah says “Don’t be afraid of them. Remember the Lord who is great and awesome…” (v 14). Nehemiah strongly believed that God would ultimately vindicate His people. We lay our plans, but God provides the results.
Questions for reflection:
- In what ways has fear of critics and mockers and saboteurs held you back from seeking and pursuing godly plans?
- What is one thing you can do to commit more deeply to the habit of prayer?
- What are some ways you can remind yourself of God’s faithfulness in the past? How can these reminders help you face challenges in the future?