Key points from the sermon:
The three men mentioned in verse 19 signify three types of opposition: political, religious, and economic. They also have geographical significance: Jerusalem is physically surrounded by threats. This puts Jerusalem in a weak, desperate state before they even begin the work of rebuilding the walls.
The opposition asks if Israel is “rebelling against the king?” The opposition is targeting their fear of man. But Nehemiah immediately points to “the God of heaven.” Fear of God drives out fear of man.
Notice the order of Nehemiah’s response. First, God “will make us prosper.” Then, “we his servants will arise and build.” This contradicts the American belief that “God helps those who help themselves.” No, God does not help those who help themselves! As Christians, we don’t work to earn prosperity. We work out of the prosperity that we already have through Jesus Christ.
Nehemiah concludes verse 20 by boldly telling the opposition that they “have no portion or right or claim in Jerusalem.” Nehemiah understood that God’s people were meant to be holy and set apart for His namesake. Those whose hearts are not right before God cannot take part in His work and His glory (see Acts 8:21).
Ultimately, opposition exposes our hearts and our motives behind the work. When God’s glory is the motive, opposition will not destroy us; it will galvanize us and make us more resolved!
Scripture to meditate on this week:
“The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe.” -Proverbs 29:25
What stands out to you when you read Nehemiah 2:19-20? Why or how so?
Have you recently felt threatened or surrounded by opposition? How did you respond? What idols were revealed? Did any good come out of the opposition?
When are you most tempted to succumb to fear of man? Why is fear of God a good thing?
Nehemiah rebuked the men who mocked the Israelites. Is there any part of your life which needs to be told, “You have no right or claim here!”?
This week let’s notice how we respond when we face opposition. Do we freeze in shock? Do we fight back in our own strength? Or do we trust the God of heaven whose ways are higher than our ways? As Christ-followers, we can expect opposition and prepare for it Biblically. We can pray to help us discern between opposition from the enemy and correction from the Holy Spirit, trusting that both opposition and correction are for our good and God’s glory.