But it so happened, when Sanballat heard that we were rebuilding the wall, that he was furious and very indignant, and mocked the Jews. And he spoke before his brethren and the army of Samaria, and said, "What are these feeble Jews doing? Will they fortify themselves? Will they offer sacrifices? Will they complete it in a day? Will they revive the stones from the heaps of rubbish—stones that are burned?" Now Tobiah the Ammonite was beside him, and he said, "Whatever they build, if even a fox goes up on it, he will break down their stone wall." Hear, O our God, for we are despised; turn their reproach on their own heads, and give them as plunder to a land of captivity! Do not cover their iniquity, and do not let their sin be blotted out from before You; for they have provoked You to anger before the builders. So we built the wall, and the entire wall was joined together up to half its height, for the people had a mind to work. – Nehemiah 4v1-6
Nobody thought they could do it. The people of the land were angry when they saw a new work crew come in to rebuild the walls of the city. Their response was one which we see so often; they mocked them.
‘What can these weakling Jews do? Can they really fortify this city? Do you really think they can offer sacrifices again? Do they think they can build the city in a day? Can they build a wall from this rubbish? If they build a wall even a fox will be able to knock it over!’
How would we handle that kind of opposition? That kind of mockery hurts and can easily inspire a lot of self doubt. We don’t like to made fun off. Often this kind of verbal opposition is enough to put us off the work. Sometimes this is more difficult to deal with than physical opposition.
So how did these ‘feeble Jews’ respond?
‘God, these folks have despised us! Please deal with them!’ First of all they let God deal with the taunters and mockers. That in itself is pretty good advice! We don’t have to deal with that kind of stuff. We need to let God deal with it.
Then they did the right thing. I love this – ‘We built the wall…for the people had a mind to work!’
They didn’t let the pundits get to them. They didn’t let the mockery dissuade them. They had a mind to do the work and they got to it!
More opposition is on the way, but how wonderful to see an example of how we should respond when people tell us it can’t be done.
Everybody says you can’t do it? Leave them to God and get busy!