The Same Answer
Awakened recently by a howling wind at 3:00 AM, these words were clearly on my “inner audio” – Be persistent in your resistance. I instantly knew their source – a Bible verse that I had been meditating on for a couple of days. “When word came…to our enemies…that I had rebuilt the wall…they sent me this message: ‘Come, let us meet together.’ But they were scheming to harm me; so I sent messengers to them with this reply: ‘I am carrying on a great project and cannot go down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and go down to you?’ Four times they sent me the same message, and each time I gave them the same answer.” Neh. 6:1-4 Be persistent in your resistance.
The closing bookend on the Old Testament contains the narrative of two men of God, Ezra and Nehemiah, instrumental in the settlement of returning refugees from Babylon. Haven’t we all walked this path of restoration, and are hopefully still, on a trek into new realms of “soul resettlement”? Ezra has been some fourteen years leading the temple rebuilding and initial construction of the walls of Jerusalem, but the delays were strong and reinforcements were needed. Enter Nehemiah, serving as the king’s cup-bearer in the Persian palace. He is greatly favored by the king and given permission and resources, by which to relocate to Judah and oversee the construction of the city.
Time and Time Again
Like clockwork, the opposition of our enemy is a given. “When Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite official heard about it, it was very displeasing to them that someone had come to seek the welfare of the sons of Israel.” Neh. 2:10 Not everyone is a fan of the rebuilding of our souls. The important thing is that I remain loyal to myself! On the front end, the start of the project around the drafting board, brims with hope. When Nehemiah announced his plan and the gracious backing of the Persian king, the people’s reply was, “Let us start rebuilding.” Neh. 2:18 But during the fifty-two days of the walls being erected, the enemy was unrelenting and the people became weary.
“Meanwhile, the people in Judah said, ‘The strength of the laborers is giving out, and there is so much rubble that we cannot rebuild the wall.’ Also our enemies said, ‘Before they know it or see us, we will be right there among them and will kill them and put an end to the work.’ Then the Jews who lived near them came and told us ten times over, ‘Wherever you turn, they will attack us.’” Neh. 4:10-12 The “times” have a way of multiplying, don’t they? I thought I emptied out the stadium of discouraging thoughts from my mind. Why does the crowd keep showing up?
A Family of Resistance
“Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” Jas. 4:7 “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.” 1 Pet. 5:8-9 The Greek word for “resist” is “anthistemi” from which we derive the word “antihistamine” – medication that helps one to “stand against” the symptoms of allergies. The armor of God is a primary means of resistance by which the body of Christ stands as a united family, against its prowling aggressor.
Like Nehemiah, we are commissioned and favored by a great King, in the rebuilding of a city very close to his heart. It’s the city of your soul. Jesus persisted in His resistance, so you could persist in yours. “Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.” Heb. 12:3-4 May I restate? “Four times they sent me the same message, and each time I gave them the same answer.” Neh. 6:1-4
Personally, I’ve lost track of whether it’s four, four hundred, or four thousand – times that the same, dark interruptions obscure my process. But I’m grateful that the north winds have awoken me once again, with the reminder: Be persistent in your resistance.