Intimidation, fear, and faith.

Intimidation, fear, and faith.

Read Nehemiah 6:1-14

“He hired for this reason, that I might become frightened and act accordingly and sin.”

Sanballat and Tobiah were not happy campers. It was reported to them that Nehemiah was leading the people in rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem, and they saw it as a threat to their power and control over the region. As a result, they stepped up their efforts to oppose the Jews. Throughout the book of Nehemiah, we find they seeking to silence and intimidate the Jews and Nehemiah into stopping their efforts.

In their efforts to stop the work, they used several differing tactics. First, they resorted to ridicule and mockery (4:13). When they saw the Jews rebuilding the city of Jerusalem, they tried to discourage them by deriding their efforts, saying that “Even what they are building—if a fox should jump on it, he would break their stone walls down!” People ridicule what they do not understand or perceive as a threat. It is not surprising that people ridicule the Christians for their faith, for it is a threat to their self-indulgent lifestyle and their desire to be independent of God. They accuse Christians of being unscientific and ignorant for believing that God is the creator of the universe, not chance. They belittle our beliefs calling us old-fashioned and outdated.

Second, Tobias and Sanballat tried to use compromise as a way to undermine Nehemiah. With flattering lips of deception, they offered to join forces by promoting a compromise. However, Nehemiah saw through their efforts. While sounding like a peace offering was an attempt to muddle the waters and use compromise as a guise to keep them from their work. It was the same tactic that Balaam ultimately used to undermine the faith of Israel. If you can’t beat them in battle, promise peace through compromise (See Numbers 25:1-3 and Relation 2:14).

When Nehemiah refused to compromise, Sanballat then resorted to false and distorted accusations. He accused them of being subversive to the government to turn the political winds against the Jews. Nevertheless, Nehemiah remained unmoved.

Last, they turned to threats of persecution and physical harm. Yet, even in the face of a possible attack, Nehemiah remained resolute in his purpose. Nehemiah was not concerned about what others thought or did; he focused on doing what God had commanded him to do.

Throughout history, Satan has actively opposed God’s people and sought to silence their message. It is no different today. We see the Christian faith being ridiculed and scorned because of our views of morality and faith. We are told to be silent and accept the new morality if we want to be accepted in our society. We are told to keep our faith private and outside the public sector or risk losing a career or business.

But the mandate Christ has given us is not “Go into your home and be quiet.” It was to go and make disciples of all nations. But fear can easily silence our witness. Fear can cause us to retreat into the confines of our church building and disengage from the world. However, our mandate is not from the world but from the God of the universe who has called us to live our faith in all aspects of life, both private and public. In an age where Biblical truth is being rejected, we need to be vocal in our witness. Nehemiah did not bow to the pressure. Instead, he became even bolder, “Should a man like me flee? And could one such as I go into the temple to save his life? I will not go in?” Instead of bending to the pressure, he placed his confidence in God, and in the end, it was his opposition that was quieted. Now is the time for us to proclaim the hope of Christ regardless of the opposition.

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