In the last twenty odd years, we have witnessed a restoration move of God to restore His Kingdom righteousness, justice, and godly governance into the market place in Uganda. This came with a growing understanding in the Body of Christ that God’s Kingdom is not limited to what we call “church”. Rather, His Kingdom reigns over all and covers every area of life. As part of this move, several training programs were launched on raising prayer altars in the marketplace, leadership, business, and the role of Christians in the marketplace. In the same time frame, we have witnessed several disciples of Christ elevated to places of leadership in government and various institutions. We have also witnessed the transformation of several institutions as the principles of intercession, spiritual warfare and godly governance have been applied.
This move of God is part of the rebuilding the walls of our nation “…so that we may no longer suffer derision” (Nehemiah 2:17). However, as happens with all moves of God, it is evident from recent events that God’s archenemy has launched a vicious counter-attack. We can draw key lessons from the experiences of Nehemiah who was a wall rebuilder in the marketplace: the opposition he faced and how he responded.
Nehemiah: A Type
Nehemiah served as cupbearer to the Persian King. Due to the constant plots and intrigues around the throne, such a person had to be a loyalist to the throne – completely trustworthy. It was the duty of the cupbearer to serve drinks at the royal table. He would often be required to drink some of the wine before serving it to the king to ensure that it was not poisoned. Such an officer in ancient oriental courts was always a person of high rank and importance. From the confidential nature of his duties and his frequent access to the royal presence, he possessed great influence. This position could be likened to that of the Principal Private Secretary to a Head of State. Later Nehemiah was appointed the Governor of Jerusalem for twelve years before resuming his place in the court of the King of Persia (Nehemiah 5:14).
Nehemiah saw a situation that was causing shame and reproach to his people, he received a burden from God, prayed, made a plan, put the plan to action, and mobilized others to join him. All the principles of project planning and implementation can be found in the Book of Nehemiah. There are no obvious miracles (in our traditional understanding of miracles) in this book but there are many answered prayers. The book presents the rigors of day-to-day hard work, foresight, opposition, disappointments, discouragements, and, ultimately success.
Nehemiah is an excellent example of a market place leader who depended on the Lord when he received a societal burden, incubated it in prayer, got an implementation plan, and executed it. Throughout the book you find him turning to God in prayer as he faced various challenges.
OPPOSITION TO THE RESTORATION MOVE
Just as Nehemiah’s work of restoration was vigorously resisted, so is the restoration move of God in the market place in our time. The kingdom of darkness will always try to counter any move of God. The greatest move of God on earth was the incarnation, death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus. It was greatly resisted by the powers of darkness in all the ways we examine below. As the Preacher stated, “…there is nothing new under the sun.” (Ecclesiastes 1:9). Satan has never invented anything new.
It is now evident that the response of the kingdom of darkness to the marketplace move of God in our country is quite similar. There is a malicious and sustained attack at all levels on those committed to doing things righteously in the market place. The enemies of God’s people in Nehemiah’s day responded in at least seven ways, let’s examine them below.
- Anger and opposition from those who preferred the status quo
Now when Sanballat heard that we were building the wall, he was angry and greatly
enraged, and he jeered at the Jews.
But when Sanballat and Tobiah and the Arabs and the Ammonites and the Ashdodites
heard that the repairing of the walls of Jerusalem was going forward and that the breaches
were beginning to be closed, they were very angry.
The enemies of Nehemiah and Jerusalem preferred the situation of chaos whenJerusalem’s walls were down. That chaotic situation was advantageous and beneficial to them because they could do whatever they wanted. Walls (order, proper polices and procedures, rules, guidelines, prohibitions, etc.) were undesirable to them because they would no longer benefit from the deceitful ways of work and business. No wonder that they were “angry and greatly enraged”. Similarly, those who are opposed to what God has been doing in the market place in our country are greatly enraged.
- Ridicule and mockery
“…and he jeered at the Jews. And he said in the presence of his brothers and of the army of
Samaria, “What are these feeble Jews doing? Will they restore it for themselves? Will they
sacrifice? Will they finish up in a day? Will they revive the stones out of the heaps of
rubbish, and burned ones at that?” Tobiah the Ammonite was beside him, and he said,
“Yes, what they are building—if a fox goes up on it he will break down their stone wall!”
The initial response was ridicule, mockery, and jest. They did not believe that any one would attempt to restore order in a situation that had been disorderly for a long time. The voices of jest, ridicule and mockery too have been heard in our land. However as the work of restoration progressed, the opposition got more sinister.
- Plots, schemes, conspiracies, intrigues
But when Sanballat and Tobiah and the Arabs and the Ammonites and the Ashdodites ….
And they all plotted together…
An unlikely group of people came together to oppose the restoration work: the Horonites, the Arabs, the Ammonites, and the Ashdodites. It is not unusual that groups that are enemies with each other or have differing interests among themselves come together with a unanimous intention to oppose the work of God. Even Herod and Pilate who were enemies became friends when it came to dealing with Jesus (Luke 23:12).
The Horonites, Ammonites and Arabs were fellow-countrymen of Tobiah, the Arabians of Geshem. The Ashdodites were dwellers by the coast. Ashdod was one of the principal Philistine cities. The mention of Ashdod here is peculiar. It was, we may suppose, the chief town on the Philistine coast, and resented an undertaking, which threatened to revive the power and importance of Jerusalem. In opposing the move of God in the market place in Uganda, unlikely coalitions are emerging.
- Intimidation and death threats
And our enemies said, “They will not know or see till we come among them and kill them
and stop the work.” At that time the Jews who lived near them came from all directions and
said to us ten times, “You must return to us.”
For they all wanted to frighten us, thinking, “Their hands will drop from the work, and it
will not be done.” But now, O God, strengthen my hands.
For this purpose he was hired, that I should be afraid and act in this way and sin, and so
they could give me a bad name in order to taunt me.
Fear is one of the most ancient and potent tools of the enemy. Once fear takes hold, paralysis results and the enemy wins the battle without a fight. It is no surprise then that a major strategy of the enemy revolves around doing things that instill fear. This can be through a single threat like the message sent to Elijah by Jezebel that reduced the Mount Carmel hero to a runaway (1 Kings 19), or through several threats like happened to Jews who lived close to the enemies of the Jews. In our day social media is a major purveyor of fear. Many facing resistance to the work of rebuilding have been targets of malicious social media attack: character assassination and threats. It is not surprising then that when faced with the task of leading the nation of Israel into the promised land, God exhorted Joshua three times not to give in to fear (Joshua 1: 6,7,9). Many at the forefront of the work of restoration in the market place are battling with fear.
- False Accusations and Lies
In the same way Sanballat for the fifth time sent his servant to me with an open letter in his
hand. In it was written, “It is reported among the nations, and Geshem also says it, that you and
the Jews intend to rebel; that is why you are building the wall. And according to these reports you
wish to become their king. And you have also set up prophets to proclaim concerning you in
Jerusalem, ‘There is a king in Judah.’ And now the king will hear of these reports. So now come and
let us take counsel together. Then I sent to him, saying, “No such things as you say have been
done, for you are inventing them out of your own mind.””
Jesus called the devil the Father of Lies (John 8:44). It no surprise then that in opposing the work of God in any place he will deploy his children to carry out the propaganda agenda. Often these lies, as with Nehemiah’s case, are intended to influence the appointing authority to either rescind the appointment or to do harm to the rebuilders. Jesus too faced much criticism, lies and false accusation from his opponents when he walked the earth. Many involved in the restoration work in the marketplace have had lies and “invented things” circulated about them in the media and using other channels.
And they all plotted together to come and fight against Jerusalem and to cause confusion
Sanballat and Geshem sent to me, saying, “Come and let us meet together at Hakkephirim
in the plain of Ono.” But they intended to do me harm.
“…Let us close the doors of the temple, for they are coming to kill you. They are coming to
kill you by night.”
Nehemiah rebuilt the wall under the constant threat of death. Despite the atmosphere he was able to complete the work of rebuilding in a record time.
In Judah it was said, “The strength of those who bear the burdens is failing. There is too much rubble. By ourselves we will not be able to rebuild the wall.”
Judah was the largest and strongest tribe. The opposition came to a point that the strongest among them was discouraged and lost faith that what they set out to do could be accomplished. This is a desperate place to be in. If the strongest tribe is giving up what would you expect the weaker ones to do? Many involved in the restoration move of God in the market place face discouragement and are ready to give up.
HOW DID NEHEMIAH PREVAIL?
Despite the opposition, Nehemiah prevailed and completed the rebuilding work in record time. How did he do this? His key strategy revolved around prayer. After all, the rebuilding the wall was God’s agenda. He had to go back to the source of the burden to restore the walls of Jerusalem to receive help and strength to continue despite the opposition. However there other practical things he did which will be explored and prayed through in the upcoming 50 days of prayer and fasting for the nation.
PLAN TO TAKE PART IN AT LEAST SOME DAYS OF THE UPCOMING 50 DAYS OF PRAYER AND FASTING FOR OUR COUNTRY AND ITS FUTURE.
A detailed prayer guide will be made available