Sanballats and Tobiahs

“But it so happened, when Sanballat heard that we were rebuilding the wall, that he was furious and very indignant, and mocked the Jews” (Nehemiah 4:1)

Embark on any God-ordained task and be certain that the Sanballats and Tobiahs of our day will come mocking! Who are the Sanballats and Tobiahs of our day? They are wicked spirits who do not want to see any of God’s purposes in my life or yours prosper. They are unlikely to attack you if you are doing stuff out of your own initiative — things that will neither further God’s purposes nor be powerful enough to weaken the devil’s hold on people. But once you align with the Holy Spirit in any activity, the Sanballats and Tobiahs — knowing that the power of the Holy Spirit behind you is potent — begin to squirm.

What do they say? They mock and attack you with thoughts that make you believe that your service amounts to nothing. They show you people who are doing well and nudge you to compare yourself to them. They suggest that your activity does not have the potential of becoming worthwhile. Listen to what they told the Jews who returned from captivity as they rebuilt the broken down walls of Jerusalem:

What are these miserable Jews doing? Do they think they can get everything back to normal overnight? Make building stones out of make-believe? That’s right! What do they think they’re building? Why, if a fox climbed that wall, it would fall to pieces under his weight” (Nehemiah. 4:1-3, The Message).

Does this sound familiar? Have such negative thoughts — albeit applied to your own situation — crossed your mind?

Overcoming opposition

What do we do? How do we guard against being swayed by these discouraging thoughts?

First, we should learn to recognize thoughts that are sown in our minds by wicked spirits and reject them, for they are not true. They may sound logical, but so long as they do not reflect God’s mind, we should consider them false.

Second, we should run to God for protection. Psalm 31:20 assures us of His protection at such times: “You shall hide them in the secret place of Your presence from the plots of man; you shall keep them secretly in a pavilion from the strife of tongues.

Knowing that the critical and negative talk from Sanballat & Tobiah was potent enough to discourage the Jews who were building the wall, Nehemiah, leader of the building project, immediately sought the Lord’s intervention. The Lord answered his prayer, and as a result, the men of Judah were able to continue their work unhindered. The Lord blunted the edge of Sanballat and Tobiah’s words, so the wall was built up to half its height and ultimately — after more foiled attacks — completed.

Third, we should keep on building. We should ask God for grace and keep moving ahead regardless of how our circumstances may look. Sanballat and Tobiah’s goal was to stop the rebuilding of the Jerusalem wall, but rebuilding the wall was God’s plan, and as long as the Jews sided with and leaned on Him, the work progressed. We should have the same attitude. Sure, there will be enemy attacks along the way, but if we continue to align with God’s plan and depend on Him for grace and deliverance, we will see our work completed.

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