By Nevin Bass
So built we the wall; and all the wall was joined together unto the half thereof: for the people had a mind to work (Neh. 4:6).
THERE ARE VARIOUS TYPES of resistance to the work of rebuilding. Just as surely as the walls need rebuilding there will be opposition to this ministry. What are the sources and the causes of this opposition? There will be resistance from without, resistance from within, and rebellion everywhere.
First, there is resistance from without. It comes from those outside the construction zone and those closely attached inside yet allied to outsiders. What are their reasons for standing against what will certainly be a benefit to God’s people? Perhaps at a rare honest moment they will concede the collective benefits of God’s wall, yet they see limited or no benefit to themselves personally. And herein lies the problem. The test of worth for every project, every endeavor, every work must be the inherent value such an effort has to their selfish interests. For various reasons, these outsiders see the advancement of the cause of Christ as a threat to their own interests.
Second, there is reluctance from within. Those who are saddled with the work itself are reluctant to begin and/or, having begun, to finish the rebuilding effort. There was a reluctance to begin before Nehemiah arrived due to apathy. Apathy must be overcome by anointed leadership, inspired vision, and proof of God’s blessing (Neh. 2:17¬18). But maintaining a sustained effort to continue a work once begun means battling fatigue and disappointment. It would be much simpler if every rebuilding effort could be completed in fifty-two days! And yet as in the case of Nehemiah, the wall that was rebuilt was just the first phase of the overall rebuilding process.
Another reason for reluctance on the part of those inside the family of God is the rubble lying around. The result of sin and the fallout of judgment are often piled upon and added to year after year. By the time rebuilding finally gets underway, there is a tremendous amount of accumulated “rubble” to overcome. The actual effects of sin and people’s attitude toward the things they and others have suffered all serve to hinder God’s work in people’s lives. And finally, another source of resistance was rebellion throughout the region. When Satan is unable to stop the rebuilding effort, he often tries to plant seeds of rebellion inside the newly constructed walls. After it was rebellion finding a home inside the walls of Jerusalem that brought about God’s judgment originally. We must not forget that Jerusalem in days gone by was a proud and strong city, complete with walls and gates. It was rebellion inside those walls that caused destruction and reproach. When one feels that this is not possible in his own life, he becomes a prime target for the enemy and often an unknowing tool to disrupt and damage the work of rebuilding.
Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall (1 Cor. 10:12).
If falling were not possible, God would only need builders, and rebuilders would all be janitors. If falling were not possible, the ministry of the postexilic prophets would not be needed, and Ezra and Nehemiah would not have needed to return to Jerusalem, because they would have been born and raised there.
A New Weapon is Tried
But it came to pass, that when Sanballat heard that we builded the wall, he was wroth, and took great indignation, and mocked the Jews (Neh. 4:1).
Intimidation is a mighty weapon that the enemies of God’s work often use to discourage the workers. Notice that intimidation is a form of mockery. Intimidation is a type of mockery that belittles others’ efforts and scorns their accomplishments. The root of intimidation can be jealousy, hatred, or a desire to stop the progress being made.
The main sources of resistance from outside the people of God were Sanballat and Tobiah, with Geshem playing a small role. Though his position is not mentioned by Nehemiah, Sanballat was the governor of the province of Samaria. Tobiah was his servant. It has been suggested by some scholars that Geshem the Arabian was governor of Dedan or perhaps the chief of some Arabian tribe dwelling to the south of Jerusalem. These wicked men exercised much influence among those outside the family of God. They even had made inroads into the Jewish community.
The work of rebuilding had run into enemies when Sanballat and Tobiah learned of it. In fact, they were grieved very much that someone of high rank would so much as inquire about the welfare of the Jews (Neh. 2:10). They used scorn to belittle the vision that Nehemiah brought:
But when Sanballat the Horonite, and Tobiah the servant, the Ammonite, and Geshem the Arabian, heard it, they laughed us to scorn, and despised us, and said, What is this thing that ye do? will ye rebel against the king? (Neh. 2:19).
Now that the work of God began and people were actually committing themselves to seeing the walls of consecration and separation built, God’s enemies began to take a more active role in resistance. These men were at first angry, then indignant that the position of the Jews would be strengthened. They were so upset that someone would be concerned about these people because it suited their selfish purpose for the Jews to remain weak. Now a work was underway that would strengthen these Jews! Anger gave way to indignation and then to mockery. If God’s enemies were so convinced of the futility of these efforts, then why did it upset them so? If the devil is so firmly convinced that our efforts to do a work for God are feeble and ineffective, then why does he resist us so? Note the voice of intimidation:
And he spake before his brethren and the army of Samaria, and said, \X/hat do these feeble Jews? will they fortify themselves? will they sacrifice? will they make an end in a day? will they revive the stones out of the heaps of the rubbish which are burned? (Neh. 4:2).
“What do these feeble Jews?” If they are so feeble, then why does it concern you? “…will they fortify themselves?” No, they will do what they can and trust their God to do the rest! “…will they make an end in a day?” It is implied that their enthusiasm for the work of rebuilding would not endure past the first day. The enemy knows that a sustained effort is needed to accomplish anything really lasting for God. His hope is that the effort required will outlive your enthusiasm for the task. “…will they revive the stones out of the heaps of the rubbish which are burned?” The enemy understands the momentous task of overcoming the past.
Failure is never easy to overcome. Failing God is even harder. Failing God to the point where He is forced to judge our sin is hardest yet. Other than God’s graceful nature, perhaps this is another major reason why total destruction in judgment is used so sparingly by God. The Lord understands that the chaos and rubbish produced by such a thing reaches many times across several generations and is extremely difficult for human beings to dig out of. You can be certain that the enemy understands this also.
Tobiah, the Ammonite and servant of Sanballat, added to the scorn being heaped on the people of God:
Now Tobiah the Ammonite was by him, and he said, Even that which they build, if a fox go up, he shall even break down their stone wall (Neh. 4:3). If anyone should understand the power of walls, it should be an Ammonite. The father of his nation was born shortly after God rained fire and brimstone on all the rebellion housed within the walls of Sodom and Gomorrah! Benammi, the father of the Ammonite people, was born to the only surviving family from the doomed twin cities.
A Defense Against Intimidation
Hear, 0 our God; for we are despised: and turn their reproach upon their own head, and give them for a prey in the land of captivity: And cover not their iniquity, and let not their sin be blotted out from before thee: for they have provoked thee to anger before the builders (Neh. 4:4-5 ).
Nehemiah asked God to hear and not forget the situation the rebuilders were in. He asked God to return the reproach these enemies sought to bring upon God’s people to their own heads. Having thus appealed to God for help, he turned his full attention to the work before him.
What is a good defense against the weapon of intimidation from the outside? Submit your cause to God in prayer and redouble your efforts. Intimidation is designed to effect your own thoughts. Satan hopes that through scorn and mockery he can cause you to become intimidated. When folks are intimidated, they become timid and lose confidence. Sometimes people are intimidated to the point that they are afraid to act lest they fail. The certainty of failure is sounded as a mocking attack and a chant that the enemy repeats over and over again.
How do you overcome intimidation and a fear of failure? The first thing is to do what Nehemiah did—surrender your feelings and thoughts to God in prayer. Understand that God gets angry when the enemy belittles what you are doing for Him. Rebuilding is His work, and those involved in it are in His employ! When they belittle God’s workers, they are actually provoking the Lord to anger.
… for they have provoked thee to anger before the builders (Neh. 4:5).
The next thing to do to overcome intimidation and a fear of failure is to join yourself to a group of rebuilders who are on fire and busy doing God’s work. There is no need to give the message of scorn and intimidation a free ride by associating with those who have fallen under its influence. Those who would be successful in God’s work are wise to select whom they associate with carefully.
And the final way to overcome this attack is to throw yourself into the work at hand with all your heart.
So built we the wall; and all the wall was joined together unto the half thereof: for the people had a mind to work (Neh. 4:6) .
Sanballat and Tobiah wanted the Jews to get their minds off the work. They tried to intimidate them and cause them to lower their expectations. When we expect little, we achieve little. We should remember this tactic of the enemy and be sure that it doesn’t work on us. Don’t let intimidation lower your expectations for God’s work in your life. The situation the Jews were in was caused by unfaithfulness and failure.
If this were not so, there would be no need for rebuilding. The fact that they lived in affliction and reproach was a testimony of their own need. The solutions were walls, boundaries, standards, rules, and accountability.
Those caught up in the cycle of unfaithfulness and failure are very susceptible to intimidation. The enemy knows and understands this. He will employ his worst methods to press this advantage. What is needed to help these folks overcome and become productive for God? Walls, boundaries, standards, rules, expectations, and accountability.
And so when Satan sees a child of God trying to dig out of a situation of reproach and failure, he attempts to discourage. He wants to prevent the walls from going up, and he uses mockery to discourage and intimidate. He wants the saint to give up on the only thing that will help him have victory in his life once again. And what is that one thing? Commitment! Commitment first to a renewed relationship with God, and next commitment to the efforts to protect and strengthen that relationship. How many times have those who struggle to recover from the effects of unfaithfulness been convinced to give up on the very thing that would help them—commitment? When the people have a mind to work and they work together, almost anything can be accomplished for God.
A Conspiracy to Halt the Work
But it came to pass, that when Sanballat, and Tobiah, and the Ara-bians, and the Ammonites , and the Ashdodites , heard that the walls of Jerusalem were made up , and that the breaches began to be stopped, then they were very wroth, And conspired all of them together to come and to fight against Jerusalem, and to hinder it (Neh. 4:7-8).
The forces of evil are arrayed against the work of God:
- In your personal life
- In your church family
- In your community
It is a conspiracy because the enemy’s forces all act in concert to tear down and hinder God’s work. Sometimes the children of darkness are wiser than the children of light in that they have learned to conspire and we often fail to cooperate. Every sour note of discord, every tone of disharmony that is struck by God’s people is captured and amplified by the enemy’s megaphone of division.
The enemy uses a variety of means to disrupt the work:
- Disappointment and feelings of failure
Even our past life and past failures become a weapon in the hands of this vast Satanic conspiracy.
But none is so mighty a weapon as division in the ranks of the church.
The Method of Advancement
Nevertheless we made our prayer unto our God, and set a watch against them day and night, because of them (Neh. 4:9).
The church must understand that victory begins with a will to fight. The Iraqi soldiers in the southern theater of the second Gulf War had no will to fight. The so-called “shock and awe” operations were designed to further denigrate the will to fight in the enemy. While the coalition forces were preparing for battle, many of the Iraqis were preparing their white flags. While the massive shipments of tanks and artillery were being arrayed against them, they were preparing for the, first sign of conflict so they could surrender. In the first Gulf War of 1991, these same Iraqi forces were so anxious to surrender that they turned themselves over to international film crews. Any army that does not have a will to fight is defeated before the hostilities begin. Victory begins with a will to fight.
Beyond a desire to fight, there must be knowledge of how warfare is conducted. For the church, warfare is conducted by making our prayer to God and setting a watch against the enemy. We must do God’s work with a trowel in one hand and a sword in the other. In other words, there is a spiritual dimension as well as a practical dimension to God’s work. We must have faith as well as works. We must trust and commit our progress to God, while at the same time doing all we can to expand God’s kingdom on all fronts. We should seek to expand God’s kingdom in our personal life, in our church family, and in our community.
This diligence in our approach to the work of God must be consistent and constant: “day and night.” There is never a time not to exercise the same diligence in our spiritual and practical approach to God’s work.
There will always be coordinated resistance to the work of God. There is a conspiracy to hinder. The conspiracy recognizes phases in God’s work and responds accordingly. We must do the same. The more intense the efforts of God’s people become, the more intense the opposition will be against it.
The way to resist opposition is by committing our cause to God in prayer and setting a watch against the enemy. The intensity of our prayer and the diligence of our watch must match and then exceed the subversive resistance to our work.
The work of God goes forward when men place their confidence in God and do not neglect personal responsibilities. Without these two elements, man is doomed to fail. Jesus’ word to the disciples as the hour of decision approached was to “watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation” (Matt. 26:41).
We begin with a burden and a vision of what God wants to accomplish. We commit that burden and vision to God in prayer. And we faithfully do our part to allow God to use us in seeing that goal realized. This is how God’s work advances.
There Is a Work to Do
So built we the wall; and all the wall was joined together unto the half thereof: for the people had a mind to work (N eh. 4:6).
The wall must be built and the breaches repaired. The burden for the work of God comes when we realize God’s expectation for His People and for His work. God’s work has always gone forward on the backs of His People.
God desires His church to have victory and for her to be a joy to all around her. Jerusalem was called “the joy of the whole earth” (Ps. 48:2). But how can this be so when the walls are in a heap and wild animals roam freely? If the gates of the city are not on the hinges correctly, there is no protection; there is no strength.
God has a revival for us personally and collectively. The church is strengthened as members of the body are strengthened. A time of rebuilding is also a time to gain strength and vision for what God wants to accomplish in our lives personally and collectively.
There are at least three voices from different quarters that hinder a rebuilding effort that is underway. There is the voice of discouragement, the voice of fear, and the voice of helplessness.
These voices may come from different sources, but they share a common point of origin—Satan himself. He is the sworn enemy of God’s work. When you are involved in the work of rebuilding, you are involved in God’s work, and therefore you are Satan’s target!
Satan will use anyone he can to speak things that hinder the work of God. These voices come from different lips, but the inspiration behind the words is the enemy. You may ask, “How can the enemy so easily use even the people of God to hinder God’s work?” Well, it is certain that he can use anyone that has their guard down.
The Voice of Discouragement
And Judah said, The strength of the bearers of burdens is decayed, and there is much rubbish; so that we are not able to build the wall (Neh. 4:10).
The first speakers are the people of Judah, or some of those who were engaged in the rebuilding effort. Their voice spoke of discouragement. Note the threefold complaint:
- “The strength of the bearers of burdens is decayed”—a lack of strength for the task
- “There is much rubble”—the inherent difficulty of the task
- “…so that we are not able to build the wall”—a lack of faith that the task can be accomplished
So they looked at themselves, they looked at the rubble (which was the result of a lack of faithfulness in the past), and they concluded that they could not meet the challenge. This all spells discouragement. After exposure to Nehemiah’s vision, these people strengthened their hands, rose up, and went to work. After prolonged exposure to the work, they grew discouraged and wanted to sit down again. If it took bringing the vision before these people to break the cycle of apathy and motivate them to rise up, it will require keeping the vision before them to escape the quagmire of discouragement.
Someone may note that David encouraged himself in the Lord during similar circumstances. David looked up instead of looking around. But these people are not Davids. They are the children of those who wanted to stone David while David was encouraging himself (1 Sam. 30:6). If they knew how and were inclined to encourage themselves, they would not have needed Nehemiah to come to them and share his vision in the first place.
Look again at the things discouraging these people: their own decaying strength and the “rubbish” surrounding the site. Aren’t these two things related to the people’s own lack of action and reluctance to address past failure? The longer people delay the work of rebuilding, the more difficult the task is once begun. Not only is our own personal strength more likely to diminish quickly, but the amount of effort required to clean up all the trash expands as the rubbish of past failure attracts the refuse of present sin and neglect. After a few generations, man is faced with a mountain of “baggage” to deal with and a spiritually flabby and weak constitution with which to work. Unless the worker is exposed to the vision at least as much as he is exposed to the task and his own fatigue, discouragement is inevitable. And a discouraged worker is easily used to spread the seeds of failure in others.
The Voice of Fear
And our adversaries said, They shall not know, neither see, till we come in the midst among them, and slay them, and cause the work to cease (Neh. 4: 1 1 ).
The next voice that hinders is that which causes fear. It comes from those opposed to the work. Our adversaries make threats that are intended to strike fear into our hearts. Satan’s strategy is to become “as a roaring lion.” A roaring lion is not nearly as effective as a crouching lion, unless his intent is to paralyze his prey with fear rather than to pounce with stealth. Satan’s desire is to cause the work to cease. He will accomplish that objective as economically as possible. The enemy will never devour workers that he can scare off with nothing more than a loud roar.
All of this noise is intended to instill fear and to stop the work. He wants God’s people to be more concerned with their own safety than with the work of God. For example, if he can get Christians to focus on the mark of the beast instead of the Great Commission, he has done his worst!
This threat from God’s adversaries begs a question. If it were so easy for the enemy to sashay right in and start taking out God’s people, why is he still just talking about it?
The Voice of Helplessness
And it came to pass, that when the Jews which dwelt by them came, they said unto us ten times, From all places whence ye shall return unto us they will be upon you (Neh. 4:12).
And finally, there is the voice of helplessness. It comes from Jews who live close to the adversaries. There will always be saints who live too close to the enemy for their own good. Instead of encouraging those who do God’s work, they are found ignorantly parroting what they have heard spoken in the camp of the enemy.
Here is the claim—”The enemy will be on you like white on rice. From every direction that you try to run to us for help, they will strike you.” Get the picture—those doing the work of God beating a retreat from the strength of the city of God to come to the lukewarm for help. This doesn’t even make good sense! In this they flatter themselves by thinking that those doing God’s work when attacked will try to retreat into their arms. For what purpose? What kind of help could the people of God expect from those content to live so close to the enemies of God while the city lies in ruins and reproach?
Isn’t it amazing how the backslider and lukewarm flatter themselves by imagining that they are such a source of strength? If they were our only source of help, we would have cause to feel helpless. But they are not. Our help comes from God.
Defending Our Advances
Therefore set I in the lower places behind the wall, and on the higher places, I even set the people after their families with their swords, their spears, and their bows (Neh. 4:13).
What is the proper response to the voices that hinder? You must be willing to fight for what you know to be the will of God. When the enemy understands that words alone will not stop progress, he will seek an opportunity to attack, perhaps even a physical attack. Rebuilders must prepare themselves to defend any advances that have been made in God’s work. Here are the principles:
- First, the work of rebuilding is a family affair. Defending our advances is likewise a family affair—”I even set the people after their families.”
- Second, defending our advances requires a high-level view (“on the higher places”) as well as attention to detail (“in the lower places behind the wall”).
- Next, defending our advances requires different tools than are used in building. Swords, spears, and bows are not used in construction. Neither is the skill set required for building the same as that required to defend our progress. We must “put on the whole armor of God” (Eph. 6:11). Just as one must consciously “put on” the saw, the hammer, the transom, and then develop the skill to use those tools, one must also “put on” tools of defense and learn to use them as well.
- And finally, defending the gains made in the work of God re-quires a concerted effort. You can be certain any attack of the enemy will be concerted. How can we defend against an orchestrated, systematic attack with a force that is disjointed and independent of unified command? If it takes unity to build, it will also require unity to defend what is built.
Things to Remember As You Prepare to Defend Your Progress
And I looked, and rose up, and said unto the nobles, and to the rulers, and to the rest of the people, Be not ye afraid of them: remember the Lord, which is great and terrible, and fight for your brethren, your sons , and your daughters , your wives , and your houses (Neh. 4:14).
If one must strengthen his hand before beginning the work of God, then one must also strengthen his hand in order to defend his progress. Here are some things to remember.
First, remember that the same responsibility is upon all of us. Our nobles, our rulers, and all our brethren are equally responsible. Not a single one of God’s children escapes the responsibility of building or the responsibility of defending the walls.
Next, remember not to fear the opposition. Fear is Satan’s weapon. He may appear formidable, rear up, and roar in a most impressive way, but looks and impressions don’t win battles! As the country proverb states, “It ain’t the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog that matters.” One thing the enemy can’t know is how much fight you have in you. Only the tests of time and adversity will reveal this.
And please don’t fail to remember the great and terrible God we serve. It is He Who told us to build. It is He who will fight for us to defend the work He has helped us accomplish! Also remember what we are working for and what we may be called upon to defend. It is the future of our brethren, our sons, our daughters, and our wives. It is the future of our entire way of life. Without walls, not only is our worship exposed to any belief system that invades, but our values and heritage are also defenseless against the same onslaught. When our worship our temple—is without walls that separate and protect, our families, our possessions, and our entire way of life are also vulnerable! What is at stake is our existence as the people of God. And for the same reasons we rise up to build the walls, we must also rise up to defend them.
And it came to pass, when our enemies heard that it was known unto us, and God had brought their counsel to nought, that we returned all of us to the wall, every one unto his work (Neh. 4:15).
When the enemy sees that the workers are prepared to defend their advances, he is likely to postpone attack for a more convenient season. The voices of discouragement, fear, and helplessness must not succeed in hindering our progress or our determination to defend the same. These voices should only serve to strengthen the builder’s resolve and preparedness to fight.
Satan seldom mounts a full frontal assault against a prepared force. Those heroics have not been popular even with mortals since Pickett’s charge at Gettysburg during the Civil War. Satan is much more likely to draw back and wait for an opportunity to strike a less prepared victim. Why is this? Because he knows that he is no match for a prepared and equipped force—especially when God is with them!
In What Place You Hear the Trumpet
And I said unto the nobles, and to the rulers, and to the rest of the people, The work is great and large, and we are separated upon the wall, one far from another. In what place therefore ye hear the sound of the trumpet, resort ye thither unto us: our God shall fight for us (Neh. 4:19-20).
A builder must be prepared to fight to defend his work. And a fighter must be prepared to build to strengthen his gains. We must learn to do both sometimes even at the same time. The hand that holds the trowel must also grasp the sword. The shoulders that carry the burdens must also wear the harness. What is worth building is worth defending, and what is worth fighting for is worth laboring to build up.
The work of God demands diversity in talents and personnel while maintaining uniformity in quality and structure. It requires separation in locality and tasks, yet unity in purpose and defense.
What is the call that beckons all God’s builders/warriors to rise up together? It is the sound of the trumpet. Where is the place where God’s people must rally? It is in what place the trumpet sounds.
There is one call that all believers must answer. It is the call of the Gospel. The Gospel trumpet is a rallying sound for all who recognize and understand the tones of God’s message. Others may hear just a toot on a horn, but for God’s people the sound of God’s Gospel trumpet is:
- A call to unity—”Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.” (1 Cor. 1:10).
- A call to gather rather than scatter—”In what place therefore ye hear the sound of the trumpet, resort ye thither unto us…” (Neh. 4:20).
- A call to victory—”…our God shall fight for us” (Neh. 4:20).
The Work Is Great and Large
Truly, the work of God is “great and large.” It is great because there is no task more important in God’s economy than reconciliation, restoration, and renewal. It is large because we are separated by distance as we all go about the task of rebuilding in our own corner of God’s kingdom.
And yet we are united in our task and in our calling. And this precious unity of purpose, of calling, and of labor is the greatest force that we can collectively and individually bring to the work of God. It is greater than the sum of our talents, greater than all our faith, greater even than our prayer. It is greater than all these because unity in the work of God is a product of God’s anointing on man’s surrender.
Understand the greatness of our call to rebuild the walls of salvation in our community.
. . . thou shalt call thy walls Salvation, and thy gates Praise (Isa. 60:18).
Our call is to establish the walls
of separation between the house of
God and the outside world. Worship without boundaries is an egregious and even a satanic thing. In Nehemiah’s day the temple stood amid the rubble of past failure with no defense against the outside world. Righteous people for centuries have recognized that building walls around Jerusalem meant nothing less than security for the people of God. The greatest prayer of repentance and for renewal in the Old Testament mentions this fact:
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, 0 God, thou wilt not despise. Do good in thy good pleasure unto Zion: build thou the walls of Jerusalem (Ps. 51:17-18).
The walls of salvation we seek to rebuild are no hindrance for those who desire to know God, as there are also gates: “…thou shalt call thy walls Salvation, and thy gates Praise” (Isa. 60:18). Truly, the work of our calling is a great work! It is God’s good pleasure to do good in Zion by building up the walls of protection.
The work of our calling is large because it stretches into the everyday lives of each of us. This is a vast area that must be fortified and defended against the enemy. The greater the advances each of us make, the .greater the need to defend our advances. This was the reason behind the use of a trumpet.
The Sound of Unification
And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Make thee two trumpets of silver; of a whole piece shalt thou make them: that thou mayest use them for the calling of the assembly, and for the journeying of the camps. And when they shall blow with them, all the assembly shall assemble themselves to thee at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation (Num. 10:1-3 ).
I asked earlier what you hear when you hear the sound of the trumpet. What does the sound of the preaching of the Gospel mean to you? In the earliest days of the nation of Israel, God molded a disjointed group of slaves into a mighty, organized fighting force to be reckoned with. How did He do this?
He began by promoting unity. He gave them a common law. One law for all people. He gave them a common inheritance. The Promised Land was a promise for each family and each person. He gave them a common religion and system of worship. Everyone knew what God expected and how to approach the Lord. They all had common enemies. The nations that resisted them resisted a cause that the entire group had in common.
And then God also gave them a signal that meant they were to gather and receive instruction from Him. It was a call to defend the things that the entire nation had in common. It was the sound of a trumpet. The beckoning call came from a trumpet fashioned from a single piece of silver, signifying the unity of all Israel in a common cause.
Suppose an Israelite heard the sound of the trumpet and… instead of hearing a call to unity and to defend against a common enemy, he heard something different? Suppose he heard the trumpet and said to himself, “That trumpet blast is for someone else.” Suppose he began to feel like he had little in common with the other Hebrews around him. He just didn’t feel like he fit it. What changed? Did the law change? Did the expectations of God change? Did the nature of his miraculous deliverance from Egypt change? Did the blessing awaiting him in the Promised Land change? What is different here?
None of these things has changed—the one who refused to respond to God’s call changed! The law didn’t change; his understanding of the Word changed. God didn’t change; his views about God changed. What God did for him in the past hadn’t changed; his remembrance changed.
His enemies haven’t changed; his allegiance changed. The promises of God didn’t change; his goals and expectations in life changed.
If the call of the Gospel message seems divisive to you, what has changed? The message hasn’t changed. What God expects hasn’t changed. The promises of God have not changed. The only thing that has changed is you!
The Place Where You Hear the Trumpet
The enemy’s tactic is to divide and conquer. God’s people need a point around which to rally. In Moses’ time it was the door of the tabernacle; in our day it is the house of God. The Gospel Trumpet is now sounding as loud as it can blow!
What are you hearing? When I say that there are difficult days ahead. for God’s people and that we must all redouble our efforts and be faithful, what do you hear? When I mention that we have not yet completed the task of rebuilding that God has assigned us, what do you hear?
The Gospel message you hear in this place, in the house of God, is not supposed to sound divisive to you. If it does, something is wrong; something has changed—and that something is you. No, the Gospel is a call to unity.
The church is under attack. We are under attack in each of our own areas of labor to build up the work of God. We gather in the house of God to receive direction, instruction, and inspiration from God. And from there we leave unified with our brothers and sisters in purpose, unified in our goals, unified in our efforts to continue the work of our calling. When we do this, “our God shall fight for us” (vs20).
The call for us to unify against a common threat comes from the Word of God. This is the Word that must be proclaimed. What do you hear when I tell you that we are all facing struggles and that they are related to the work God is doing as a whole? If that message seems divisive to you, then I must ask, since when are your own interests so contrary to those of your brethren? Aren’t we all involved in building up the kingdom of God?
God blesses and promises victory to those who respond and unite under the sound of the trumpet. If that is such a struggle, perhaps you have been out there in your own area too long. Nothing lasting is ever accomplished for God without unity among the brethren. And even though we all have our own personal struggles, understand that our struggles are part of the overall work of God going on under His direction.
Chapter Four Summary
The enemy uses any weapon he can to distract from a work in progress. Intimidation is a favorite tool because it has been used so effectively in the past. Once the walls are completed, the enemy will not be afforded freedom of movement without detection. The spirits and attitudes he uses will not be able to go and come at will.
If intimidation fails to halt the work, Satan calls on other voices to take the wind out of the sails of the workers. The voices of discouragement, fear, and helplessness are often used to deflate faith. The voices also play to the apathy that is dormant yet still present in the heart of the workers.
The work of God advances by persistent determination and a willingness of the workers to defend their advances. Any work for God will be challenged by the enemy. Will we allow his tactics to reactivate our apathy and deflate our faith?
There is a rallying point for all who are determined to see God’s work go forward in their life. It is the sound of the trumpet. The proclamation of God’s truth is the position of strength behind which all God’s workers must rally. It is here that we must resort in time of conflict.
The above article “Overcoming Resistance” is written by Nevin Bass. This article was excerpted from chapter four in Bass’s book Building God’s Wall.
The material is copyrighted and should not be repainted under any other name or author. However, this material may freely be used for personal study or purposes.