Today, both Nehemiah and Paul address their opposition…directly.
Remember, Paul is writing to the Corinthian church because opponents to his ministry had infiltrated the church and caused a large rebellion against Paul. Paul spent the first seven chapters of 2 Corinthians refuting his opponents indirectly, but now he shifts his focus to address them directly.
Paul’s opponents judged him by the world’s standards. Because Paul was meek in appearance and manner, his opponents discounted his apostolic authority – while boasting in their own worldly attributes. But Paul refutes their criticisms by pointing to his spiritual abilities and the fact that he was appointed by God himself.
Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord. For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends (2 Corinthians 10:17).
Meanwhile, Nehemiah is dealing with his own opposition. Sanballat and Tobiah just won’t go away! They continue to try to trap Nehemiah both physically and morally to bring about his downfall. But Nehemiah rebukes their efforts and much to their displeasure, finishes the wall in spite of the opposition!
So the wall was finished on the twenty-fifth day of the month Elul, in fifty-two days. And when all our enemies heard of it, all the nations around us were afraid and fell greatly in their own esteem, for they perceived that this work had been accomplished with the help of our God (Nehemiah 6:15-16).
Did you catch that last phrase? “With the help of our God”!!
This is the key to both Paul’s and Nehemiah’s ability to overcome their fierce opposition. They were called, equipped and undergirded by their God. They trusted in God despite their grave circumstances. In other words, they fixed their eyes on what was unseen. “For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal” (2 Cor. 4:18).
Lord, when I am faced with opposition, help me to not be discouraged! But rather, help me to look to the unseen realm…help me to fix my eyes on Jesus and persevere in faith as I wait for Your sure help!