It seemed so easy! Take the orange ball, pass it to your teammates and shoot it through the hoop at the end of the court. “Piece of cake,” right? At least that was the thought until five guys who were bigger, stronger, and faster took the court and got in our way. But we should have expected this. After all, it was a basketball game. And in some sense, it was a battle. As we tried to accomplish our goal, there was opposition. This happens in sports, in wars, and in doing God’s work.
Nehemiah faced a similar experience as he was rebuilding the wall of Jerusalem. He and a team of builders had devised a plan to repair and restore the broken parts of the wall. They built up the height of the wall and bridged the gaps in the wall. Although it was labor intensive, it was a “piece of cake,” right? That is until the TAUNTS started.
Sanballat “jeered at the Jews” (Nehemiah 4:1) and ridiculed them. “What are these feeble Jews doing?” (4:2) Tobiah added, “Yes, what are they building – if a fox goes up on it he will break down their stone wall.” (4:3). The enemy came to bring discouragement by taunting the workers. “You can’t accomplish this. What you are doing will fail. Why are you even trying? This is the dumbest thing I have ever seen.”
When the taunts didn’t stop the work of God, Sanballat and Tobiah turned to THREATS. “They plotted together to come and fight against Jerusalem and to cause confusion in it.” (4:8) Sanballat and Tobiah were threatening harm to the people and their city if they did not cease their activity. “If you keep doing what you are doing, you will be hurt. I promise!” However, even this didn’t stop the work of God. Why not?
After being taunted and threatened, some people would shrink back from the task. But not Nehemiah and those with him. They were able to go forward because they TRUSTED the Lord. To overcome the taunts and threats, Nehemiah and others, PRAYED to God, PLACED guards, and PERSEVERED gladly.
When the enemy taunts, Nehemiah asks God to “turn back their taunt on their heads and give them up to be plundered in a land where they are captives.” (4:4) The Lord is our Helper! He is our Defender. If others ridicule us and speak negatively about the kingdom work we are doing, we can ignore their words. We can be secure in who we are as children of God, and we can be secure that God will empower us to finish what He has called us to do. God is our Protector and we don’t have to be afraid of taunts or threats. “And we prayed to our God and set a guard as a protection against them day and night.” (4:9)
Nehemiah instructed people to be ready with their swords, spears, and bows. People worked on the wall, while others stood guard. Even those who were working diligently were ready to do battle at a moment’s notice. So despite opposition, the people encouraged one another, joined forces together, and the work continued – the people persevered in rebuilding the wall.
The reason they could continue in the work was because God was the one at work. God frustrated the plan of Sanballat and Tobiah and He would fight for the Jews if they were attacked (4:15, 20).
In that basketball game, I can’t really say that God was fighting our battle and frustrating the other team. Nor did we pray to God. However, we didn’t let the taunts and threats of those bigger, stronger, and faster than us deter us from doing what needed to be done. The “wall was built” as we scored more points than the other team and victory was embraced.
What has God called you to do?
Are you facing taunts and threats from the enemy?
Trust the Lord by seeking Him, joining forces with other believers, and keep moving forward.
- Pray for those that oppose the kingdom work you are doing – God to frustrate their plans; ask God to fight your battles and defeat the enemy.
- Invite others to join you in the work and the battle.
- Don’t quit. “Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.” (1 Corinthians 15:58)