After reading five chapters about Nehemiah's leadership and the people's dedication to building the wall, Chapter 6 brings us—close to—the completion of the wall. But just as the people get closer to the goal and completing God's plan, there's still opposition—this time directed toward Nehemiah personally. As Bert outlined in the lesson, we read about three personal attacks on Nehemiah:
- Intrigue (vv. 1-4): Nehemiah discerned the trap of the "peace meeting" that Sanballat and Geshem offered Nehemiah. On the surface, the meeting may have sounded like a good idea, but Nehemiah knew it would get in the way of the best—what God was calling him to accomplish. The key is the remain focused.
- Innuendo (vv. 5-9): In the face of Sanballat's letter that claimed Nehemiah was plotting to be king, Nehemiah responded by simply stating, "Nothing like what you are saying is happening; you are just making it up out of your head." And he then, as he often has, turned to prayer.
- Intimidation (vv. 10-14): When the first two schemes didn't work, Shemaiah, saying that Nehemiah needs to protect his life, attempted to get Nehemiah to sin by entering the temple. Knowing scripture and knowing only priests could enter the temple, Nehemiah realized the plan wasn't from God. Indeed, if he acted on Shemaiah's idea, it would be as if Nehemiah were running away and not trusting God.
Through these oppositions, we can learn from Nehemiah how to react when we're personally attacked: Trust God to accomplish the task and overlook unjustified insults. And as Bert reminded us, as leaders—whether at home, in the office or in ministry—not everyone will line up behind us and we should expect opposition, internally and externally. Our key is to stay focused on God and what He's called us to accomplish.