Page 12 - November 2020 - Truth & Tidings
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ehemiah had no sooner begun    men speaking twisted things, to draw
               to assess the rebuilding work in   away the disciples after them” (Act 20:30).
        NJerusalem than the enemies of the    We should be on guard against those who
        Lord’s work began to marshal their forces.  build “power bases” or foster rivalry in
                                              the assembly, talking up favoured allies
        The Challenge of Opposition           and talking down or passing over others.
          Sanballat and Tobiah’s  opposition
        hardly took Nehemiah by surprise. Using   The Challenge of Oppression
        a combination of derision, intimidation,   Nehemiah was a strong but sensitive
        distraction and deception, they maintained   leader. He was incensed by the exploitation
        a prolonged campaign against him and his   of the weak and vulnerable by the wealthy
        work. We should not be surprised when   and powerful (5:1-13). It may seem
        the world opposes us. The Lord Jesus   unnecessary to state that there ought to be
        warned, “If the world hates you, know   no place for such practices in the assembly,
        that it has hated me before it hated you”   yet, sadly, honest and careful examination
        (Joh 15:18).  Nehemiah kept a cool head.   sometimes reveals uncomfortable realities.
                  1
        Recognising their ploys (6:2,9,13), he   Presumably,  the  complaint  by  the
        encouraged the people to pull together   Hellenists which “arose against the
        (4:19-21), focus on the goal (4:14), keep   Hebrews because their widows were
        at the work (4:21; 6:11), and, above all, to   being neglected in the daily distribution”
        commit the situation to the Lord (6:14) and   (Act 6:1) did not develop overnight.
        trust Him for the victory (4:20). We should   While we should not be swayed by
        learn from his example.               secular populist movements, overseers
          More subtle, and certainly more sinister,   today must be vigilant to ensure that
        was the opposition from within. Tobiah   individuals or sections within the
        had brought many in Judah under his   assembly do not begin to feel neglected
        influence (6:18) and compromised the   or marginalised because of race or
        leadership in Jerusalem by a forbidden   ethnicity, socio-economic status, gender
        marriage bond (6:8; 13:4,7). His allies   (notwithstanding biblical teaching on the
        waged a propaganda war against        respective roles of brothers and sisters)
        Nehemiah (6:19). Regrettably, the     or any other grounds. Extra sensitivity
        opponents of the Lord’s work are not all   may be necessary where assemblies are
        without. Paul warned the Ephesian elders:   blessed with immigrants who could feel
        “From among your own selves will arise   disadvantaged by language or cultural
        ¹ All Scripture quotations in this article are from   difficulties or economic constraints.
        the ESV.                              The assembly does not belong to the

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