RELIGION AND RIDICULE
But when Sanballat…, and Tobiah…, and Geshem…, heard it, they laughed us to scorn, and despised us, and said, What is this thing that ye do? will ye rebel against the king? Then answered I them, and said unto them, The God of heaven, he will prosper us; therefore we his servants will arise and build: but ye have no portion, nor right, nor memorial, in Jerusalem.
So built we the wall; and all the wall was joined together unto the half thereof: for the people had a mind to work. Neh 2:19-20; Neh 4:6.
THE BUILDING of the ruined walls of Jerusalem, as the record shows, was undertaken in troubled times. Some of the petty rulers in the neighbourhood, exulted in the low estate of the city, because it left room for the exercise of their authority, and they viewed these renewed activities with chagrin. They plotted for the overthrow of the work, and had to be met by incessant watchfulness.
If you are endeavouring to do God’s work in the world, to clear away the rubbish of sin, to rebuild the walls that are broken down, and to seek the welfare of God’s people, do not be surprised if your steps are beset with scorn and ridicule, by the secret or open malice of Sanballat and Tobiah. For some it is easier to face bitter opposition than to bear mockery and ridicule. If only these scornful and carping tongues were silenced, we could make more headway, but such persecution drives us back on God, makes Him a living fact in life, and opens the door to the manifestation of the saving health of His right hand (Neh 4:4, Neh 4:9, Neh 4:20). How good it is, at such times, to cease from man, and to remember the Lord who is the great and terrible One (Neh 1:5; Isa 51:12-13). Be quite sure that you are on His plan, doing His work in His way; then go forward in His Name, and he will make all the mountains a way.
The lesson for us all is the threefold aspect of the Christian life. There is our up-look into God’s face–“I prayed to the God of Heaven.” We must never forget to pray, for more things are wrought by prayer than we realize. Second, there is our up-look against our foes and the foes of God–“we made our prayer unto our God, and set a watch against them day and night.” We must watch as well as pray. Lastly, there is our dawn-look towards the work entrusted to us, at which we must labour with unslacking devotion, in fellowship with our Lord (1Co 3:9). Let each inquire: “Am I inside the city amongst its builders, or outside amongst its detractors and foes?” – F.B. Meyer