We left Nehemiah with the intention of returning to Jerusalem to build up the protective walls of the city. This is a type of you and I strengthening what we have and perhaps for some, building up your 'walls of protection' around your life, is a new direction.
We sometimes see this with pastors and others when a person starts a house church. Sometimes they will caution about being in a cult. Sometimes they ask 'Who is your covering' or something like that, not understanding their New Testament was written by apostles doing church in the home writing to people in home based churches.
When people change direction in life - change churches, change jobs, focus on their marriage or children by dropping distractions in their lives (including some people) - people will offer everything from caution to anger, so today is about when Satan attacks. He is the accuser of the brethren, so it's normal life - you aren't being singled out.
Wisdom when you change direction
But here is how to at least temporarily lessen someone's accusations or anger towards you. Nehemiah 2:10 tells us the main 3 men who stood against the idea of the city walls being rebuilt were 'grieved' when they heard someone was seeking to do so. Until that point in time they could come and go out of the city and work their schemes at will.
That's like people in our lives who come in and out of our lives, often using us for their own schemes. They do so because we have not put up any protective walls around our heart, around our emotions, around our lives.
Step one, discretion
Nehemiah 2:11-16 tells us Nehemiah scouted the city for 3 days, at night so he wouldn't be noticed. He was examining what needed to be done, taking inventory of what remained and made plans to rebuild.
He tells us he did not tell any of the local elders. If you are contemplating a change of direction, or you are rebuilding your life completely or in part, start quietly in your heart taking inventory of what such changes would mean. Nehemiah did this 3 days, which is like the Lord dead in the tomb in preparation for the resurrection. There needs to be a 'quiet time' that is like death of the old as you realize the past is forever in the past.
Nehemiah was planning the walls to be rebuilt and never to be destroyed again. He was planning a good and permanent change to the city. This is how we must be when we strengthen what remains or change things by doing a new thing - we must be all in. We must be committed. We must take inventory and think through the changes our decision will mean to our relationships and life. If you're going to rebuild, rebuild well!
Reveal the plan, and the reaction
Nehemiah writes in 2:17-18 that once he was done examining the walls and had taken inventory of all that was needed, he shared it with the elders of the city. This shows us once we know what we are doing, we just share with the core people in our lives. You aren't ready yet to tell the world, you are just sharing with those in your 'city' of Jerusalem - immediate family, perhaps closest friends. The reaction should be they support you and will help, not hinder you. They are for you.
But Nehemiah reveals in 2:19-20 that Sanballat, Tobiah and Geshem 'laughed him to scorn' and then also accused him of being in rebellion against the king:"What is this you are doing? Are you rebelling against the king?"
Evidently they didn't know Nehemiah was there under orders of the king, but even if they did, they laughed at him and despised him the text says. That is often what people will do to us. They will laugh, despise, and accuse. Just get ready for it if you are rebuilding your walls or changing the direction of life by asserting yourself.
If you are angry, depressed, or discouraged, you are living in the past. If you are afraid or worried, you are living in the future. If you are in peace, you are living today for today in the Lord. Find that peace.
Nehemiah answered their accusation in 2:20:"God is with us and we will rebuild. You have no part in what we are doing. You have no right in what we are doing. You have no ''remembrance' in what we are doing." Nehemiah was moving on and they couldn't go where he was going.
Many Christians think they are to be victims
Many read Jesus telling us to offer the other cheek, give the extra coat, walk the extra mile in Matthew 5:39-41 to mean we are to let people take advantage of us, but that is not what He was saying.
What Jesus said places limits on how much we are to offer ourselves, how much we are to give of ourselves, how far we are willing to go for others. We offer 1 cheek, 1 coat, 1 extra mile. We are not to be a victim, not to give away our wardrobe, not beyond 1 mile.
Jesus is saying our responsibility to others has limits.
After we walk that extra mile with a person, they must walk by themselves. We give 1 coat but keep our closet of clothes, for they now have to clothe themselves. We offer 1 cheek but then put a stop to it, for they must deal with their own anger. Let them do that.
Nehemiah answered their accusations. He stood up for himself for he knew what he was doing was God's leading. He didn't ask for forgiveness when they were offended, for he was in the right and they would just have to deal with their emotions.
Nehemiah realized his 3 accusers had no power over him. They no longer had any place in his city. They no longer had the authority to offer their opinion about the city. And they did not like being powerless. Amazingly, these 3 accusers still had their own areas they governed, but it was THAT work that bothered them.
Isn't that the way it is so often? People who accuse you or don't like the direction you're going, have their own full and busy lives to live. But for some reason (often demon inspired) they focus on you to rip you apart - sad, but that is the way of man and Satan.
We conclude next week seeing that once Nehemiah moved on he had a whole new set of friends who joined him in the work, and the wall was completed in 52 days. Until next week, blessings,
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