1. Now it happened when Sanballat, Tobiah, Geshem the Arab, and the rest of our enemies heard that I had rebuilt the wall, and that there were no breaks left in it (though at that time I had not hung the doors in the gates), 2.that Sanballat and Geshem sent to me, saying, “Come, let us meet together among the villages in the plain of Ono.” But they thought to do me harm. 3. So I sent messengers to them, saying, “I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down. Why should the work cease while I leave it and go down to you?” Neh 6:1-3
Nehemiah had been given a grand vision by God to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. He had the help and support of the king and the people of Israel were excited and willing to see the work through. However, anytime there is a movement of God among His people and the they begin to capture the vision of God and work, there will be opposition of some sort. In Nehemiah’s case, Sanballat and Tobiah represented this opposition. These two men were determined to do all they could to stop, or at least hinder, God’s work. As the church moves forward and begins to carry out its mission and purpose, we can expect Sanballats and Tobiahs along the way. Nehemiah’s opposition was from the outside. Those looking in on Nehemiah and the Israelites didn’t understand why the rebuilding of that wall was so important. People are naturally opposed to what they don’t understand, don’t believe in, or can’t see a need for. As church leaders we must ensure those outside the body, those to whom we direct ministry, have an understanding of what we are doing, what we are about, and how important the message we share is.
When faced with opposition, Nehemiah’s response is vital to ensuring success. He said in v.3, ”So I sent messengers to them, saying, “I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down. Why should the work cease while I leave it and go down to you?” Good question. Once we have set our faces to God’s plan, we must refuse to come down off the wall. We must refuse to be sidetracked by any distraction. Our service for the Lord is, as Nehemiah stated, “a great work”. Too much is at stake to listen to the voice of opposition.