Facing the Giants outside the door

2.8.12 Cafe Bethel
Theme :Good leadership
Topic: leading through tough opposition
Text: Nehemiah 4:1-23

With the building project underway, it’s naive to believe that opposition will not come. Why? Fallen world…. Other thoughts?
Not sure it’s been mentioned, but the value of knowing your enemies cannot be overstated. Who are these competitors and detractors?
Of Babylonian heritage
He is a Horonite: a native of Beth-Horon:18 mi. NW of Jerusalem: daughter married the high priest: (13:28)
Elderly Governor of Samaria: 407 bc (38 yrs after Nehemiah came)
A non Jew married to a Jew
No religious interest of any kind
Driven by a quest for power and ambition
Didn’t want Nehemiah or his interests to jeopardize or destabilize his own hopes
Could not conceive any legitimate interests in Nehemiah’s work so he must be up to something: (Tebow)
Married into a Jewish family
His son married into Jewish aristocracy
Too smart to ever let his faith get into the way of good business or his hope of promotion.
Geshem the Arab
More powerful than his companions: with his sons, ruled a league of Arabian tribes which took control of Moab and Edom.
A power broker of his time.

Mind games in the night: Psychological
They were interested in destroying their morale. Can you find some examples?
Why shouldn’t we take this lightly?
How does Nehemiah respond?

Response: Prayer

Principle: Practical and regular prayer keeps the job out in front of us and the power rightly behind us.
What do you make of the prayer? Ps. 139:21-22; Rev. 6:10; Luke 6:27-28

I’m going to beat you up: Physical opposition
( Mark, do you think we can take him?)
Neh. 4:8, 11
One man calls this an oracle of doom. Quite frightening:

But Nehemiah is no slouch. You undoubtedly have heard of William Carey.
He wrote, ” attempt great things for God– expect great things from God”

Response: fortification and preparation.
I love the words of the late James Boice in describing the scene. He writes,
” in military terms, Nehemiah must have known it was unlikely that his enemies would attack the city in full force, since he had the imposing authority of Artaxerxes behind him… On the other hand, Nehemiah must have known that what we might call guerrilla warfare was likely…besides he knew that anything of this nature would so demoralize the people that the work would stop and never get going again. What was Nehemiah to do? What he did was extremely wise. He dealt with the real threat … In a way that built the people’s low self-esteem and strengthened their resolve.
Nehemiah turned Jerusalem into an armed camp. When the threat became known,meh responded by posting a guard day and night (9). When the rumors of violence continued and began to have a demoralizing effect, he went further: he stopped the work vv. 13,15; (2) He armed the people (13,17,18); and (3) he arranged the people into family groups at the most exposed places along the wall (13). Dividing them into families correspond with Israel’s traditional way of fighting and heightened each person’s awareness of the stakes…
When his enemies learned of the Jew’s preparation and that their plot [ surprise attack] was frustrated, the pressure lessened and Nehemiah was able to return the workers to the walls. But he did not forget the threat. Therefore, ;1) he divided the people into 2 groups,one of which would work and the other which be in readiness to fight at any time (…vv.16-18); (2) he devised a plan for meeting an unexpected attack (vv.18-20); (3) he accelerated the pace of the building ( from the dawn until the stars came out (v.21); and (4) he kept the people in the city day and night. Boice/ Packer, pg 106

Principle: Preparing for crisis by employing the proper resources in the most likely proximity of advances the likelihood of success.

Beyond this, Nehemiah was a source of strength by…
Referring regularly to the confidence in God…(4:14,20)
Regularly enjoining the family’s ( community ) support in prayer…(4:9)
Regularly accepting the hardships that come in a truly team effort.(4:23)

It was the worst of times: Discouragement
After the newness had worn off of the initial commitment, the reality of the weight of the side arms and the weight of the burden began to show up. (4:16,18,10)
What’s needed in those moments is a continual reminder of God’s support. (4:20)(2:20)
Where do we find such encouragement beyond what “the pastor” might dispense?
Ps. 27:1-4,11,14

Lingering thoughts!

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