Faithlife Sermons

Opposition in Nehemiah (Threats)

Toby DeHay
Nehemiah  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Threats often come when God's people are working together for His purpose. These threats may be physical or mental, but can be overcome with prayer and godly action.

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Nehemiah 4:7–9 NKJV
7 Now it happened, when Sanballat, Tobiah, the Arabs, the Ammonites, and the Ashdodites heard that the walls of Jerusalem were being restored and the gaps were beginning to be closed, that they became very angry, 8 and all of them conspired together to come and attack Jerusalem and create confusion. 9 Nevertheless we made our prayer to our God, and because of them we set a watch against them day and night.
Threats can be serious, but they need to be placed within a Biblical reference and analyzed as such.
Take for example Chicken Little. Chicken Little screamed that the sky was falling so much that no one believed him.
Did you know that you are 6 times MORE likely to be struck by a meteorite than dying in a plane crash? Scientists estimate that over 24,000 meteorites strike the earth each year with about 66 hitting the land and about 20 hitting the ocean.
Is it a real threat that you’ll be hit by a meteorite? Not really, that’s why no one ever talks about it.

Threats May Come When God’s People Work Together (7)

Remember that we discussed a few weeks ago that these men represented threats from the north, east, and south sides.
Nehemiah 2:19 NKJV
19 But when Sanballat the Horonite, Tobiah the Ammonite official, and Geshem the Arab heard of it, they laughed at us and despised us, and said, “What is this thing that you are doing? Will you rebel against the king?”
Now we have the Ashdodites, who were located west of Jerusalem.
They are literally getting threats from all around.
Contrast that to what we do to ourselves at times.
“Everyone is mad at me.”
Nobody wants to hear my side.”
Every single person I’ve talked to agrees with me.”
Let’s put this in context with our scriptural truth here:
Threats may come when God’s people are working together.
We have a truth statement, so let’s back this up scripturally before we apply it to ourselves today.
Matthew 10:16 NKJV
16 “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.
Matt. 10:
Who is He sending out? Disciples.
Why do they need to be wise and harmless? People will persecute them.
Acts 8:1 NKJV
1 Now Saul was consenting to his death. At that time a great persecution arose against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles.
Acts 8:3 NKJV
3 As for Saul, he made havoc of the church, entering every house, and dragging off men and women, committing them to prison.
Who is being persecuted? The church.
Why? They are being a Gospel witness.
Acts 9:23–25 NKJV
23 Now after many days were past, the Jews plotted to kill him. 24 But their plot became known to Saul. And they watched the gates day and night, to kill him. 25 Then the disciples took him by night and let him down through the wall in a large basket.
Acts 9:
What happened? Paul was being protected by the brothers.
Why? Persecution of the church
2 Corinthians 1:3–7 NKJV
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 5 For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also abounds through Christ. 6 Now if we are afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effective for enduring the same sufferings which we also suffer. Or if we are comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation. 7 And our hope for you is steadfast, because we know that as you are partakers of the sufferings, so also you will partake of the consolation.
2 Cor. 1:3-
What happened? There is affliction and suffering.
Why? They proclaim the love and truth of the Gospel.
Friends, sometimes threats come because of family issues, we take a particular stance on a social issue, or we’re from a certain part of the country.
We need to remember that the threats that truly matter aren’t those that deal with the superficial or the temporal, but those that deal with heart issues and those that are eternal.
Sanballat and crew weren’t upset that these Jewish neighbors came home to rebuild because they were going to ruin their view,
but that they knew the implications of what rebuilding would bring to the neighboring lands.
The Hebrew God Jehovah was powerful El Shaddai.
He is everlasting El Olam
He is the provider Jehovah Jireh
He is shepherd Yahweh Ro’i
In the New Testament He is Adonai, or master/owner
He is Theos, the only true God, unique, transcendent,.
He is Kurios, Lord supreme with all authority.
This is the God of whom they were afraid.
Outside the church today people offer up threats when God’s people gather in His name to do that which He has outlined for us to do in scripture:
Proclaim the Good News, calling people to repentance.
Worship-proclaiming His name as the greatest among all names.
Inside the church, people sometimes offer up threats.
When their unbiblical traditions are threatened.
When perceived power is being lost.
When the Gospel kingdom is being advanced rather than a personal agenda.
Friends, when God’s people come together to do His work there will be threats.

Threats May Be Physical or Mental (8)

When we are facing opposition, we might rarely face physical threats, but more often, the mental ones.
Listen to this confrontation between an assistant principal and 2 teenagers holding pro-life signs on public property outside a school:
Teens: “Sir, these are images bearers of God.”
Principal: “You can go to h__ where they are too!”
Teens: “I’m 16, and you are yelling at me. The truth is Jesus Christ died on a cross and rose again. You can be set free from you sins.”
Principal: “Listen here son, I am as gay as the day is long and I don’t give a (blank) what Jesus tells me about what I should and should not be doing. You are harassing public school students and I will call the police if you don’t [be quiet].
If you’d like to see the whole video it can be found on YouTube at “Assistant Principal of a Top Ranked School Yells at Students” CAUTION: Foul language from the principal.
Take a look at verse 8 with me.
Take a look at verse 8 with me.
Nehemiah 4:8 NKJV
8 and all of them conspired together to come and attack Jerusalem and create confusion.
Let’s ask these questions:
Had the Jews hurt these people?
Ask yourself this:
Had they threatened them?
They were angry for the same reason the principal was at the teens. Envy and malice.
They envied the work they were able to do just as the principal was envious of the teens and the God they serve.
Romans 1:9 NKJV
9 For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of His Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers,
Romans 1:21 NKJV
21 because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.
And the malice was seen in their threats.
Check out the words used in verse 8
conspired, attack, create confusion.

Threats Can Be Overcome by Biblical Prayer and Godly Action (9)

Check out a very important word here in verse 9.
You can see it using the KJV, NKJV, the NIV, the NLT, and the NASB.
It is the word “but,” or “nevertheless.”
This word “but” can help us transition.
They’ve gathered together to do Kingdom work.
People are opposing them-some with physical and mental (verbal) threats...
But this is where we need to remember to place our faith and trust in the Lord and call out to Him in prayer, allowing our actions to be godly.
BUT...”we made our prayer to God...”
Can you imagine the power of their prayer?
They were under imminent threat of attack!
So, not only did they pray, but they set to work! “because of them we set a watch against them day and night.”
Listen to this excerpt from R.A. Torrey’s book on prayer:
Torrey, R.A. Torrey on Prayer. Bridge-Logos, Alachua, FL. 2009, 97-98.
Church, when your family, your Bible study class, discipleship group, or our church as a whole is doing kingdom work, you can guarantee that you will be challenged by the evil one.
Be on the look-out for threats. They may come through a Christian friend, or they may come from a known adversary.
Mark 14:38 NKJV
38 Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
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