Scorn and Ridicule
Then misrepresentation. 'It is reported that you intend in the building of the wall to make yourself king, and to have it proclaimed that there is a king in Jerusalem, and you are appointing prophets to preach of you' (Nehemiah 6:6, 7). When the enemy tries that line it is sometimes very disconcerting. It is a horrible suggestion. 'You are trying to make a name for yourself, to get a position for yourself; all this, after all, is only a secret motive of yours to get notoriety, to be something and to do something that will make the world take note of you.' If you have any meekness at all, that shaft is a very dangerous, cruel one - God only knows what it costs. The enemy tries to impute a false motive to all your labors. 'After all, you only have your own ends in view, trying to do something, to make a name.'
Yes, the enemy will stop at nothing - lies or slander. The answer is, 'What is the truth about this? is this true?' After all, let us stand back from these lies of the enemy, and say 'Is it true? Have I anything to set over against that?' Nehemiah's reply was: "There are no such things done as thou sayest, but thou feignest them out of thine own heart" (Nehemiah 6:8). Our answer is, 'These imputations are not true! If I had been seeking my own ends, I would have taken a very different course from this. If I had wanted to do something grand and great, that everybody would accept and recognize and acknowledge as a great piece of work, I should not have taken this course.' We can reply with Nehemiah: "There are no such things" - it is lies and slander.
And then there is intimidation. Here is a man to whose house Nehemiah went. Nehemiah, with all his uncompromising spirit, seems to have been a very friendly soul, and he went to see this man one day in a friendly sort of way. This fellow feigned to be his friend and to be very concerned for him, and said: 'We had better go into the temple and shut the door, because they will come and kill you.' But Nehemiah retorts: 'Should I flee to the house of God to save my life? I will not go in.' This was a false friend, after all; right in close proximity, a Judas. This was such a one as would say to the Lord Jesus: "Be it far from Thee, Lord: this shall never be unto Thee." Although those words came audibly through Peter - none other than Peter - the Lord immediately says: "Get thee behind Me, satan: ... thou mindest not the things of God, but the things of men" (Matthew 16:22, 23). Coming through a friendliness is a suggestion of the enemy to create fear. Nehemiah puts his finger right on the spot - 'they would make us afraid.' If the enemy can get fear in, we are finished.
You read the book, and you can see all this from the outside. And then comes this from the inside: "The strength of the bearers of burdens is decayed" (Nehemiah 4:10). The people got tired, got weary. Perhaps there is no greater enemy to going on with the testimony than tiredness. You know something about that. Even when you get physically tired, what a tremendous force that can be to discourage. Does not the enemy rush right in on tiredness? Let us get mentally tired, where we feel we can no longer cope with things mentally - and what a perilous position that is.
"The strength of the bearers of burdens" went, and that was a perilous moment, and Nehemiah had to take special measures in the presence of tiredness. Oh, be on your guard. It is not just that the enemy makes you tired. Sometimes he does: I think sometimes a good deal of tiredness is due to his wearing out, his drive. But sometimes he gets us to do a lot of unwise things that we should not do, so that we bring tiredness on ourselves, and he thus gets an advantage to himself. But whether that be the case or not, always remember that the enemy will take hold of tiredness to stop you going on, to destroy your testimony. It is a perilous moment. You need to take special precautions in the moment of tiredness.
The Need For Watchful, Intelligent Prayer
This is the warfare. We have just entered a little into the nature of it, the forms that it takes, but you notice that the salvation of the whole situation was due very largely to close watchfulness. If Sanballat and Tobiah and all the rest had their secret informants of all that was going on inside, and they did, Nehemiah also had his information coming through. He kept very closely in touch with what was happening in the enemy's ranks, and his close watchfulness, coupled with his persistent prayerfulness, was the secret of the victory. "Watch unto prayer" (Ephesians 6:18). It is not enough to pray - we must pray intelligently. We must pray with information, with knowledge, with discernment, with perception, for these things are the strength of effective prayer.
So the victory and the completion of the testimony were largely due to this watchfulness unto prayer, seeking at every point to guard against what the enemy was doing, in a suitable way. That is a subject in itself. Here, truly, is a warfare! The fact is, that, when God is seeking to do a new thing in recovering something more of His whole purpose, this is fraught with intense and peculiar conflict. The conflict may take many different forms, but the object of all is one - to make the work cease.
The Lord keep us moving on to the end.
(continued with # 11 - "A Peculiar Treasure")