From “Feast of Tabernacles,” Chapter 13- Tabernacles – The Feast of Restoration, continued
OPPOSITION WITHIN AND WITHOUT
Nehemiah gives further light on the opposition that was arrayed against them. As they started the tremendous task, there was nothing more than mockery. One said, “Even that which they build, if a fox go up, he shall even break down their stone wall.” (Neh. 4:3). But soon their mockery turned to violence. They realized that great progress was being made in spite of their tremendous difficulties, and so they began to get fearful, and tried to hinder the work by force of arms. It became necessary, therefore, for the builders to be armed with spears as well as tools; and they builded with the sword girded by their side. (Neh. 4:18).
If we seek to restore the walls of Jerusalem, we are going to find it necessary in the very near future to put on “the whole armour of God.” Mockery is giving way to violence. Satan will soon begin to use force against the saints instead of insult, because he realizes that the plan of God is being fulfilled, even if the work is slow and not any too spectacular.
Then carnality crept into the midst of God’s people, and brother was ill-treating brother. Because of the hard times, some were being forced to mortgage their fields and their properties, and the rich were exacting usury from the poor. And we can be sure of this, saints, that one of Satan’s sure devices against God’s people is in causing internal strife and division. If he cannot conquer by outward attack, he is often most successful by causing the congregation to fall into sin. When Balaam could not curse Israel (for they were God’s people and God turned the curse into a blessing)–then he advised Balak to invite the people to a great sacrifice of their gods–and Israel fell into the trap. Consequently a great plague swept through the whole congregation. (Num. 25:1, 2; 31:16).
Finally, Sanballat conceived another plot against Nehemiah, perhaps the most subtle of all. If he was unable to conquer by force, or by mockery, he would befriend Nehemiah and in that way betray him. He would propose a conference. “Come, let us meet together…” he suggested. But Nehemiah discerned the true intent and purpose of the proposed meeting, and he replied that he was too busy. (Neh. 6:2-8). Failing that he hired a man to come and persuade Nehemiah to flee into the temple for safety, stating that some were after his life. But Nehemiah had no part in the priesthood, and he refused to sin against God in this manner; and again the plot failed.
Nehemiah’s ministry was to govern the land, not to minister in the Temple. Perhaps Satan’s most successful form of attack against the saints, is to get them to become involved in some work of the Lord which is not theirs to perform. It appears to be such an innocent thing. And perhaps the need that arises would almost demand that you submit, and take upon yourself some ministry which God has neither enabled you nor called you to perform. But God knows all about it. and he has some who are qualified to meet that need. Let every man minister according to the ability which God gives, and in the place which God has designated for him. GHW
I found this little tip on the internet written by Amy Wong in 2013. I’ve had to learn the very lesson she is talking about. Amy writes:
My colleague Rick Hamlin uses his morning commute as a time for prayer, and he often reads from Psalms on the subway. Now that I’m commuting by subway (our new office is a little too far to walk), I’ve taken to reading on the train too. Nothing quite as edifying as Scripture—I’m usually working my way through The New York Times Magazine that I didn’t get to over the weekend.
That’s what I was reading this morning when I came across a piece of surprisingly uplifting advice. I was surprised, anyway, because it came up in an article about why there are still so few women in science. The writer, Eileen Pollack, recalled being the only female student in her introductory physics class freshman year at Yale. That was intimidating enough, but worse was seeing the boys in the class breeze through the material while she struggled to grasp the basics.
She got a 32 on the midterm. Disheartened, she went to her professor, Michael Zeller, for permission to drop the class. Clearly her dismal grade meant she wasn’t any good at physics, she said.
“Just swim in your own lane,” Professor Zeller told her.
What was that supposed to mean?
He explained that he’d been on the swim team as an undergrad. He was a strong swimmer yet he kept coming in second in races. Until his coach pointed out what was holding him back: “You keep looking around to see how the other guys are doing. Keep your eyes on your own lane, swim your fastest and you’ll win.”
It was good advice for Eileen Pollack, who not only stuck it out in the intro course but ended up majoring in physics and graduating with highest honors.
It’s also good advice for keeping a positive attitude. Don’t fall into the trap of constantly comparing yourself to other people. You’ll just end up feeling less than.
Swim in your own lane. Try your best. You just might discover that it’s even better than you expected.
Nehemiah stayed in his own lane and his mission was accomplished.