Nehemiah shows us how to counter the tactics used by the enemy with the tactics given by God. If your enterprise is threatened and you're accused, learn from his example and put it into practice.
Tobiah the Ammonite, who was standing beside him, remarked, “That stone wall would collapse if even a fox walked along the top of it!”
Then I prayed, “Hear us, our God, for we are being mocked. May their scoffing fall back on their own heads, and may they themselves become captives in a foreign land! Do not ignore their guilt. Do not blot out their sins, for they have provoked you to anger here in front of the builders.”
— Nehemiah 4.3–5 NLT
Have you ever noticed that, when you set out to do something significant, like build a business, you get only so far and then the opposition shows up?
When you build a business you’re occupying a certain territory — this is called positioning.
Positioning is a foundational step in building a brand and in building a business (business and branding go hand in hand). Positioning considers your core offerings and who will buy them.
So when you lay claim to a particular position in the marketplace there will be those who show up to oppose your efforts.
Nehemiah returned from exile in Persia to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem and make order out of chaos. Together with Ezra he called the people back to right position with God. His work was opposed by those who didn’t want the walls to be rebuilt. His responses to their queries, accusations, and threats reveal tactics we can use when our businesses are under attack.
From Nehemiah Chapter 3 through Chapter 6 we recognize these tactics the enemy uses against us:
- False accusations
- Invented narratives
- Repetition (of the above)
- Mockery and ad hominems
- Promoting fear
- Creating confusion
- Gossiping and spreading rumors
- Infiltration and information gathering
All of these were used by Tobiah, Sanballat, and Geshem the Arab to discourage Nehemiah and the people.
Nehemiah was operating under the authority of the king of Persia and had the right to do what he was doing. Above that was the authority of the Lord God who gave him favor with the king. So Nehemiah was doing right work sanctioned by the king and ultimately, by God himself. He knew this.
In reading these chapters notice that Nehemiah didn’t engage by denying or attacking. He didn’t give in even though the opposition tried to wear him down. He stood his ground. He responded with facts. He reiterated what was true. He didn’t attempt to change their thinking, to argue with them, or debate them. He didn’t threaten them in return.
He asked God to deal with them according to their works.
He didn’t allow fear to rule him and determine his decisions. He appealed to heaven. He exhorted and encouraged the people to keep working.
Notice also that Nehemiah had to deal with internal problems on top of the external threats. The workers were becoming fatigued and losing strength, and that there was so much trash to clear away that the walls couldn’t be built (Nehemiah 4.10). The Jews who lived near the enemy were afraid. (Nehemiah 4.12)
Think of this as a SWOT analysis: Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats. Opportunities and Threats are external factors. Strengths and Weaknesses are internal factors. Nehemiah had to consider all four concerns and deal appropriately with each.
So how did Nehemiah respond to it all?
He weaponized the people, put them in strategic positions working with their families and friends, and reminded them to look at the bigger picture: they were working for the benefit of their families, their homes, their neighbors. They needed to trust God and reject fear (Nehemiah 4.13–14).
Because Nehemiah went to God, and did the very practical thing of arming and positioning the workers, they did the work — shovels in one hand and swords in the other — and got the wall built.
We, too, have to build our walls and set our boundaries.
Our weapons aren’t swords. Our weapons are the words of God. We overcome Satan — our enemy — by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony Revelation 12.11.
We use God’s mighty weapons, not worldly weapons, to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments. 2 Corinthians 10.4
A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.
Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.
— Ephesians 6.10–18 NLT
In conclusion, do not be afraid of those who want your enterprise to fail. Remember that God is for you, you have the authority from him to build your business. Encourage yourself in the Lord, take a stand and fight for yourself, your family, your customers and clients, and your legacy of faith.