Leadership from Nehemiah: Facing Opposition

Nehemiah chapter 4

Nehemiah’s arrival in Jerusalem was a threat to Sanballat and his associates (2:10), who wanted to keep the Jews weak and dependent. A strong Jerusalem would endanger the balance of power in the region, and it would also rob Sanballat and his friends of influence and wealth. When things are going well, get ready for trouble, because the enemy doesn't want to see the work of the Lord make progress. The opposition is not only an evidence that God gives blessings, but it is also an opportunity for us to grow. The difficulties that came to the work brought out the best in Nehemiah and his people. Satan wanted to use these problems as weapons to destroy the work, but God used them as tools to build His people. The chapter before us is a lesson on how to battle discouragement.

Bible Study – Nehemiah 4:1-23

1. What do you do when you find yourself discouraged?

2. What weapons does Sanballat use to stop the building of the wall? (4:1-2)

3. How does Nehemiah respond in the face of this opposition? How do you feel about the requests that he makes of God? Why is this appropriate?

4. When is it appropriate to pray for harm or judgment on someone else? Why is it beneficial to ask the Lord this kind of request?

5. When ridicule fails, what is the next line of attack for the enemies of the Jews? (4:8) How does Nehemiah respond to their attack?

6. Where would you post a guard in order to guard the hearts of Christians today?

7. What two internal threats raise their head when the external threat seems defeated? (4:10-12)

8. What does Nehemiah want the people to remember? (4:14) How did it help them to remember the Lord and the needs of others?

9. Which gives you more difficulty – the criticism of others or your own doubts and fears?

10. How does Nehemiah put to rest the threats from the enemies of Jerusalem? (4:16-18)

11. What dream would you like to see that seems so big it is beyond human control but within the provision of God?

 Three thoughts on facing opposition

1. It is impossible to lead without facing opposition – The leader needs to learn to take the heat from without and overcome the discouragement from within. Darts come our way. People drag their feet. Satan does not want the work that we are doing to be done. If you face opposition, you are often doing something valuable for the kingdom. Don’t always take it as a sign that you are going the wrong way.

2. It is essential to face opposition with prayer – The forces of evil are strong. Your God is stronger. Your first response to opposition outside the group or inside your church must be prayer. The church today fails too often because its leaders do not pray (and often do not know how to pray). Nehemiah prayed for three days upon coming to Jerusalem and months before that. Realize that if you start from chapter 1 when he heard about the walls, he spent more time in prayer than he did building the wall.

3. Prayer is not all that is necessary to overcome opposition – When you have prayed, you must act. Things get done when God’s people actually put their hands on the task and lift one stone after another into place. Those who move forward into the fray trusting the Lord to be with them will accomplish the task. Those who sit and wait for the Lord to make it easy will find that the task will never be done.