“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?’ So I answered them, and said to them, ‘The God of heaven Himself will prosper us; therefore we His servants will arise and build, but you have no heritage or right or memorial in Jerusalem.’ ” Nehemiah 2:19-20
We’ve already talked about expecting opposition when we set out to do God’s work. One of He things we see in the story of Nehemiah’s work in rebuilding Jerusalem is that the main players in the opposition were always the same: Sanballat, Tobiah, and Geshem. These three would be the driving force behind every strategy to disrupt, sabotage, or slow down the accomplishment of God’s work.
It seems in every locale the same can be expected. Consistently, if trouble is going to be made or opposition is going to be mounted you can count on the same few people to be at the center of the mess.
An early strategy, by the opposition, is also to refer to whoever’s in authority to try and strike fear and uncertainty in the hearts of as many who would help do God’s work as possible. If you can make timid and uncertain people afraid to even begin working they’ll never bring the work to completion.
Nehemiah doesn’t waste a lot of time trying to convince the opposition to stop obstructing. When people are dead set on being against you there’s often nothing you can do that will do anything but make hem become more creative and resourceful in their efforts; so why waste time? Nehemiah’s response instead appears to be calculated to bolster the courage of any of the Israelites who may have been present and overheard the threats and ridicule.
Nehemiah responds with faith. “The God of heaven Himself will prosper us; therefore we His servants will arise and build.”
Nehemiah has already recounted to the Israelites how God had called him to come to Jerusalem and prepared the heart of the king to not only give him leave to go but also provided material and funds to move the work forward. What God’s people need to remember is that God is leading the work. Our God is strong. Our God is sovereign over every earthly power. Our God will accomplish whatever he sets out to do. We are his servants. We will follow.
Next Nehemiah reminds Sanballat and his friends that they have no “heritage or right or memorial in Jerusalem.”
It’s the God of heaven who has claimed this city as his own and it’s his people, his followers, that have a right to claim anything in regards to his city. Friends, we like the majority of the Israelites in Nehemiah’s day must respond by keeping and strengthening our faith and not, because of opposition, walk away from our inheritance in the city of God.