Anytime you set out to do great things for God, there will be opposition to the work. Satan will do everything he can to deter you from what God has called you to do. He is in the business of constantly attacking churches and trying to destroy its influence in the community and around the world. Satan knows that if can distract and divide the local church then he can diminish the furtherance of the Gospel in the community in which the church exists. As we continue our study in the book of Nehemiah, we find that there was much opposition to the work of rebuilding Jerusalem. That opposition came in various forms.
Mockery (4:1-6). There was a group of men who did not like what Nehemiah was doing at all. They resorted to mocking and making fun of the work. They would say things like, “that wall will never stand; even a fox could knock it over.” We must be aware that there are those who will mock us when we attempt to do great things for God. They will laugh at our ideas and vision. They will mock our efforts. The opposition will do everything they can to make us look bad. Often times when people behave in such a manner it is because they have certain insecurity issues in their own life. In order to build themselves up they will tear others down. These are people who desire control and crave attention. When the spotlight is on someone else or something else they are enraged and resort to immature mockery of the work. It is important that when we are approached by such individuals that we mark them for who they are and do everything we can to help them with their personal issues yet at the same time stay focused on the work and not allow them to hinder us from doing what God has called us to do. We must also follow the example of Nehemiah. Notice how Nehemiah immediately went to the Lord in prayer and then continued to build. He did not allow those who mocked them to deter them from the job at hand. In verse six it mentions that ‘the people had a mind to work.’ Do we have a mind to work? Are we focused? Are we determined to do what needs to be done no matter what anyone says or thinks?
Conspiracy (4:7-23). The opposition conspired to attack the work that Nehemiah was doing. If the opposition cannot stop us by simply mocking and making fun of us, they will then resort to plans of attack. They will come up with a plan to destroy the work. Notice how Nehemiah responded by preparing the people for battle. What we see here is that Nehemiah believed that the work was worth fighting for. Think about it. Is your church worth fighting for? Is your family worth fighting for? Is your city worth fighting for? Is our nation worth fighting for? Nehemiah instructed the people to arm themselves and be prepared for whatever attacks may come. As believers, we are to arm ourselves with the armor of God. We are to take our swords, the Word of God, and go on the offensive and attack the opposing force of darkness that is around us.
Extortion (5:1-19). The New American Commentary tells us, “In chap. 4 and again in chap. 6 Nehemiah faced external opposition. In chap. 5 he had to deal with internal difficulties. The inequality and injustice that transpired during the building of the wall developed over a period of time. But the wall building and external opposition put more strain on the economic substructure of the community. The culmination of these problems may have occurred shortly before the wall was finished in August–September. This would have been near the end of the harvest, and the creditors would have required payment of capital and interest on loans. According to 4:22, Nehemiah had asked the workers to stay in Jerusalem and not return to their villages. This must have caused a shortage of workers for the harvest. The extra labor on the wall no doubt affected the efficiency of the harvest and the income many families normally would have received from working in the harvest. In short, the economic situation was more critical because the people dedicated so much labor to the wall. The completion of the wall was necessary to fulfill both the word and the will of God. In the midst of the building, however, power became a threat as the “nobles and officials” (v. 7) began to oppress the people in a variety of ways.” Unfortunately, we see this same type of opposition in many churches today. Satan will often cause us to focus on money more so than focusing on the work. In doing so, we lose our trust and dependence on God and we put our trust in what we have in the bank. A common question that is often asked in the life of the local church is: ‘how much will it cost?’ Many times we don’t even consider a certain work because we already assume that will it cost too much. Now, I know that counting the cost is important and it is a part of good stewardship. We should not spend money just for the sake of spending money. However, I must ask, ‘how much is a soul worth?’ What would you pay in order for one sinner to come to repentance and be saved from the flames of hell? How much is the life of your children and grandchildren worth to you? How concerned are you over their eternal destination? How concerned are you over the condition of our nation and the world in which your children and grandchildren are growing up in? Think about it. What is it worth? When money is tight, do we simply stop the work? When money is plenty, do we hoard the money in fear of one day losing it? How much is a soul worth? We must understand that any rebuilding process comes with a cost. There is a price tag. We cannot allow the possession of wealth or the lack of it to determine whether or not we do the work that God has called us to do. If God is in it, He will provide. Therefore, we must trust in Him and not in our own ability and in our own wealth. We must also be careful that we do not use our money and resources in order to influence others to do what we want them to do. This is what was happening here in Nehemiah chapter five. There were those who were taking advantage of the economic situation and using what they had to influence others and, thus, hinder the work.
Compromise (6:1-4). As the opposition realized that they were getting nowhere with Nehemiah, they encouraged him to meet with them and come up with a compromise. When the opposition gets to this point, it is because they are desperate. We must also recognize this. We must be determined to stay faithful to the work and never compromise. Compromising with the world is never a good thing. We must stay true to God’s Word and to what we know is right.
Slander (6:5-9). The sad and terrible reality when facing opposition is that often times the opposition will resort to down-right lies and slander. They will spread rumors that are simply not true. They will run our names through the mud and try to turn people against us. This is probably the most hurtful and hardest thing to deal with it. When your name is smeared it affects everything. Therefore, we must guard both our tongues and our ears. We must be careful that we are not guilty of also spreading lies. We must be careful as to what we listen to and make sure that what we hear is true.
Treachery (6:10-14). Satan is a very tricky foe. He will use everything in his power to deceive us and trick us in ways that would lead us into danger. As believers dedicated to the work of God, we must stay on alert and not allow ourselves to be deceived. The best way to fight against such deception is to stay in the Word. The more we fill our hearts and minds with the truth the less likely it will be that we could be deceived.
Opposition comes in all shapes and sizes. Will there be opposition? Yes. What should we do about it? Stay strong and stay faithful.
 Breneman, M. (1993). Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther (electronic ed., Vol. 10, pp. 199–200). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.