Sunday, 16 September

Nehemiah 2:19 – “But when Sanballat the Horonite, and Tobiah the servant, the Ammonite, and Geshem the Arabian, heard it, they laughed us to scorn, and despised us, and said, What is this thing that you do? will you rebel against the king?”

Every hero needs an adversary. Think about heroes in the Bible. We don’t remember them because of their talents, their good looks, their personal charisma, their money, nor their position of power. We remember them because of the adversary they had to overcome. The bigger the adversary, the greater the victory, and the more inspiring the story.

In the time of Nehemiah, Israel was surrounded by a host of adversaries. Sanballat, whose name means « begotten of the moon-god » was the governor of Samaria. Tobiah, a Hebrew name meaning « the goodness of God » was a descendant of Lot, the nephew of Abraham. And Geshem, the only Arab mentioned in the Old Testament, was the leader of the Arab tribes at that time.

These three enemies of Israel are what I call the unholy trinity. And sooner or later we will all have to face them in our lives.

Sanballat represents someone who holds legitimate authority over us, and is convinced that we are evil in some way. Tobiah represents someone who is close to us, a friend, a member of our family. Instead of being on our side, they chose the side of our enemy. Geshem represents the one who is just making the most of a favorable opportunity for his own promotion at our expense. Sanballat has his trained soldiers; Tobiah has his spies; and Geshem has his mercenaries. Each one comes against us with a different strategy and plan of attack. But the goal for each is to make us stop building!

Who is coming against you at this moment? What battles seem to be looming on the horizon of your spiritual landscape? Are your enemies taunting you, distracting you from your mission, or simply wearing you out with their unfounded accusations?

Friend, we are all in the battle together. Each of us is battling the enemies of our souls. 

So let me encourage you with this:

1. Stay focused on the mission God has given you. Don’t get distracted by the threats. Don’t drop your weapons of warfare and your tools for building. Stay committed to the job God has entrusted to you.

2. Don’t allow fear to arise in your heart because of the size of the enemy. God specialises in bringing the biggest, ugliest and strongest enemy against you to show His power to the world.

3. Finally, never allow the enemy to see that you have lost your joy. Though you may struggle, and though you may need prayer from a brother, never allow the enemy to see it! 

Let him hear faith in your words, confidence in your heart, and joy in your song.

Robert BAXTER

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