Standing Up To The Enemy
A daily devotion for August 5th
11 I went to Jerusalem, and after staying there three days 12 I set out during the night with a few men. I had not told anyone what my God had put in my heart to do for Jerusalem. There were no mounts with me except the one I was riding on.
13 By night I went out through the Valley Gate toward the Jackal Well and the Dung Gate, examining the walls of Jerusalem, which had been broken down, and its gates, which had been destroyed by fire. 14 Then I moved on toward the Fountain Gate and the King's Pool, but there was not enough room for my mount to get through; 15 so I went up the valley by night, examining the wall. Finally, I turned back and reentered through the Valley Gate. 16 The officials did not know where I had gone or what I was doing, because as yet I had said nothing to the Jews or the priests or nobles or officials or any others who would be doing the work.
17 Then I said to them, "You see the trouble we are in: Jerusalem lies in ruins, and its gates have been burned with fire. Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, and we will no longer be in disgrace." 18 I also told them about the gracious hand of my God upon me and what the king had said to me.
They replied, "Let us start rebuilding." So they began this good work.
19 But when Sanballat the Horonite, Tobiah the Ammonite official and Geshem the Arab heard about it, they mocked and ridiculed us. "What is this you are doing?" they asked. "Are you rebelling against the king?"
20 I answered them by saying, "The God of heaven will give us success. We his servants will start rebuilding, but as for you, you have no share in Jerusalem or any claim or historic right to it."
The God of heaven will give us success. We his servants will start rebuilding, but as for you, you have no share in Jerusalem or any claim or historic right to it(Nehemiah 2:20).
The men who opposed the rebuilding of the wall stood outside the covenant of promise. None of the three had any claim to the promise of God to inherit the land. That is why Nehemiah took this stand.
The form their opposition took is also prophetic of our struggles. They first
mocked and ridiculed. This is usually the first weapon the enemy employs. You may have felt it when you began to recover from your ruin. Your friends laughed at your desires to change. They may have ridiculed your religious convictions and resented with scorn your implied criticisms of their conduct.
Also, Nehemiah's enemies began to threaten and slander him with charges of rebellion and disloyalty. If ridicule does not work, then the opposition stiffens and becomes openly unfriendly and threatening. It is the next level of resistance that those who seek to rebuild will encounter.
These are but pictures for us. They picture the opposition and the resistance that we will experience from Satan himself. What was true of these opposing forces in Nehemiah's case is true also of Satan. He is a usurper who has tricked us and led us astray. Yet he has no right to do so. Jesus came to restore God's property to Him and to loose the hold of the devil upon the human race. That is what He does in our lives. So when we face resistance, we must see it as something God allows to strengthen us, but Satan has no real right to our lives.
We do not need to be bound by habits from the past. No matter how innocently they may have begun, we do not need to be slaves to drugs, sex, alcohol, tobacco, or whatever may be controlling and limiting us. Remember Paul's great cry,
I will not be mastered by anything (1 Corinthians 6:12). Why? Because he was under the power of God. This is what Nehemiah declares here. There is no necessity to be a slave to a hot temper or a critical attitude or a complaining spirit. These areas of ruin in our lives can be set aside because we are expecting God to grant us the grace to stand.
That is why, with great determination, Nehemiah clenches his fist and says,
Look, the God of heaven is with us. He will give us success. We, his servants, will start rebuilding. Do what you like. It is not going to stop us. You are usurpers and have no right to this land.
What we are tracing here are the steps of recovery from ruin. There are three of them that we have covered so far: First, a deep concern that leads us to prayer and sorrow; then, an opportunity for change to which we must make response; and then, the facing of the facts of our situation honestly and squarely. When we begin these steps, we have well begun the process of change. Let us take them with confidence that God will enable us to rebuild our walls and restore our gates to His praise and glory and our grateful relief.
Thank You, Father, that I can face the enemy with boldness and confidence, knowing that I am free, and he has no right or power over me.
Life Application: When we face ridicule and opposition, do we recognize their ultimate source? What steps can we take to recover from destructive habits or ruin in our lives?
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Daily Devotion © 2006 by Ray Stedman Ministries. For permission to use this content, please review www.RayStedman.org/permissions. Subject to permission policy, all rights reserved.