The moment we start doing something that moves toward the will of God in obedience, that’s the moment that others who seek their own selfish aims will resist His will. In Nehemiah 2:9, we see Nehemiah coming to inspect the walls in Jerusalem, complete with letters of transit and protection from the king’s army. He, as we saw two weeks ago, was taking the steps through the door of opportunity that God opened for him. He took action!
In verse 10, our antagonists arrive on stage. Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite heard this, their inner attitude was displeasure. Why? “Someone had come to seek the welfare of the people of Israel.” Sanballat was no ordinary fellow, but was governor of Samaria, with Tobiah a fellow official of another territory who had an alliance with Sanballat. They could have been behind the time in Ezra 4:7-23 when they conspired to stop the work of the Temple. In fact, back in 538 BC, almost 100 years earlier, they started rebuilding the wall then, but grew discouraged (which we will address later).
Sanballat, seeing the defenses of Israel being rebuilt, saw this as a catastrophic development. But it began. Isaac Newton’s First Law of Motion is, “Everything continues in a state of rest unless it is compelled to change by forces impressed upon it.” While this is a scientific understanding of zero motion, spiritually it’s a little more complex. Christ gives us rest from our sin, yes (Matthew 11:28-30), we can also be at ‘rest’ in our work for Christ. Yet, the more we speak for Christ, the less ‘at rest’ those around us are. Christians tend to agitate and disturb their comfort.
This can happen with believers as well. AW Tozer spoke once in his book on “Rut, Rot, or Revival” talks about the danger of an unexamined life:
An unexamined Christian lies like an unattended garden. Let your garden go unattended for a few months, and you will not have roses and tomatoes but weeds. An unexamined Christian life is like an unkempt house. Lock your house up as tight as you will and leave it long enough, and when you come back you will not believe the dirt that got in from somewhere. An unexamined Christian is like an untaught child. A child that is not taught will be a little savage. It takes examination, teaching, instruction, discipline, caring, tending, weeding and cultivating to keep the life right.”
A critical spirit begins with an unexamined life that naturally drifts toward seeking personal welfare over the welfare of God’s people and our witness to the nations.
What steps are you taking to examine your heart?