Overcoming Opposition

10 December 2017 PM – Nehemiah 5-6 – EzNe17 – Scott Childs

Introduction: Someone once said, “The brook would lose its song if you removed the rocks.” The “rocks” in the stream of life often seem to be a burden but if God removed all of them we would no longer need to trust Him and lean on Him for strength. They are really a blessing in disguise.

Nehemiah’s life was like a stream full of rocks, yet he remained strong and faithful through every trial.

Transition: This evening I want us to see how Nehemiah overcame two types of opposition so that we might apply the same principles when we face opposition.

The first type of opposition to trouble Nehemiah was …

1.        Opposition From Within (Ne 5)

a.         The nobles and rulers oppressed the people
1)         The people were discouraged (5:1)
2)         They were physically hungry (5:2)
3)         They needed to work the fields to get food
4)         Some mortgaged all they had to buy food (5:3)
5)         They borrowed from the rich Jews to pay taxes (5:4)
6)         They sold children to rich Jews to survive (5:5)
O  Internal opposition is some of the most difficult to deal with. No one enjoys confronting problems, especially when it comes from those who are dear to you. Some of the most painful and difficult opposition is that which comes from your spouse, your children, a loved one, or a friend. That is when being a leader is difficult. (Psalms 27:10) “When my father and my mother forsake me, then the LORD will take me up.”

b.         Nehemiah was angered by this oppression
1)         The word translated “angry” is often translated kindled or hot (5:6). He was fired up inside because of this injustice done to the common people.
2)         He counselled with himself. This literally means that his heart ruled as a king. He stood up as the leader.
3)         He rebuked the rich nobles (5:7-11)
4)         He commanded them to restore goods to the poor (5:11).
O  Though Nehemiah got fired up over the problem at hand, it did not get vulgar, unkind or mean. He simply stood up as the leader and rebuked the troublemakers.

c.          The Nobles repented and obeyed Nehemiah
1)         They took an oath that they would stop their oppression (5:12).
2)         Nehemiah made this a public vow (5:13).
O  We are tempted to not get involved when we see other Christians doing things they should not do. However, God said in (Galatians 6:1) “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.”

O  When fellow-Christians, especially those in our church, go through trials, we who are able need to help them. Whether their oppression is physical, emotional, or financial, we need to do what we can to encourage them. (Galatians 6:2) “Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.”

The second type of opposition to trouble Nehemiah was …

2.        Opposition From Without (Ne 6)

a.         The Enemy offered false peace talks
1)         Upon hearing that the work progressed, the enemy plotted against them (6:1-2).
2)         Nehemiah recognized the plot and refused to attend (6:3). He was doing God’s will and would not neglect it.
O  We too must keep focused and keep serving even when people oppose us.

3)         The enemy persisted four times, yet Nehemiah stood firm (6:4). By walking with God, Nehemiah was able to discern that the “peace talks” were not genuine and that he was doing what God wanted.
O  God wants to give us this kind of prudence to discern between right and wrong. Satan will often place obstacles in our path that “look” good but we must seek God’s peace before we move. (Proverbs 22:3) “A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself: but the simple pass on, and are punished.”

b.         The enemy spread gossip
1)         They levelled false charges at Nehemiah (6:5-7)
2)         Nehemiah knew the gossip was false and denied it flatly.
a)         He could see this was just another plot to bring fear (6:8)
b)         He prayed that God would strengthen his hands (6:9).
O  Even good Christians are tempted to fear or to fall. No one is exempt to temptation. When we are falsely accused, we must recognize the enemy’s plot and pray that God will give strength to overcome fear and press on.

c.          The enemy hired a priest to deceive Nehemiah
1)         Shemaiah lied to cause Nehemiah to fear (6:10). Had he feared, the people would also have feared. Not knowing for sure if the advice was a lie, he had to trust God to protect him from danger. Again God gave him peace that he would be protected. (Psalms 56:3) “What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee.” (Isaiah 41:10) “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.”
O  Others are watching us and we must set good examples for them. Paul reminded Timothy of this in (1 Timothy 4:12) “Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.”

2)         Nehemiah refused to hide in the Temple for protection (6:11-14). He remained strong, trusting God and the peace that God gave.
3)         Nehemiah saw fear and hiding as sin (6:13). Why? Because he would not be trusting God. Is running from danger always wrong? No. Paul often fled when threatened.
4)         Nehemiah gives us a good example by leaving the entire burden in the hands of the Lord (6:14).
O  We must follow Nehemiah’s example when we are tempted to worry. (Philippians 4:6-8) “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. [7] And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. [8] Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”

d.         Nehemiah overcame the enemy
1)         Through perseverance and hard work the wall was completed in just 52 days (6:15).
2)         God got the glory, even from the enemies (6:16). Through trusting God, Nehemiah remained faithful.
3)         Sadly many of the nobles of Judah were not truly loyal (6:17-19). They kept in close contact with Tobiah and Tobiah continued to send letters to make Nehemiah and the Jews afraid.
O  Remember, even when “friends” fail us, we must walk with God. (Psalms 27:10) “When my father and my mother forsake me, then the LORD will take me up.”

O  One of the best things you can do is to loyally support your leaders – your husband, your parents, your pastor, and your government officials. I am not talking about blind loyalty. If your leader is walking with God, you may disagree with him, but don’t turn on him. Remember God’s command in (Hebrews 13:17) “Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.” There is a LOT in that verse.

Conclusion: Are you facing opposition this evening? Have troubles been haunting you? Are people trying to deceive you? Have people said lies about you? These are trials that face all of us from time to time. How are you coping with them? Have you given them to the Lord in prayer? Are you trusting him and clinging to him for strength. You need to. I need to!

If you know someone who is struggling, have you done anything to help them? You may not be able to solve the problem for them but can you ease it a bit? Can you offer some encouragement or cheer? Are you praying for them?

Times of trial and opposition are no fun. Let’s do what we can to help those experiencing them and trust in the Lord with all our hearts when we face them.

Song: Be Care-filled for Nothing