I was having a conversation with several people over the past few weeks about job searching. We have probably all participated in an interview or two, either as an applicant or the hiring person. I’ve personally interviewed for dozens of jobs over the years, but have interviewed hundreds for various open positions within my departments.
One of the most innocuous questions to have asked in an interview is the “Situation” question.
It seems there is an impossible task, and options may even be presented, yet there is probably no right or wrong answer. The interviewer is looking to see how you think on your feet and the type of personality you might be.
In essence, in a difficult situation would you be more apt to:
- Try to change the situation
- Avoid the situation
- Complain about the situation
They are looking to see what type of person you are. In fact, we may oft find ourselves in any one of these categories – depending on the type of situation, I know I have.
So today, I bring to you a story out of scripture that helps us to see that this issue has been around a long, long time. There are those in this story that are helpers, enemies, or resisters.
Here’s the situation:
Israel has been in captivity for a while. Their home city of Jerusalem is in ruins, occupied by part-timers. Those who escaped the captivity are not living as well as they once did.
- In Chapter 1, we read that Nehemiah has a passion, along with a burden, to see a restoration happen.
- In Chapter 2 he presents his burden to the king.
It was a planned approach. Though he had the “ear” of the king, yet he prayed in the midst of the conversation. See, proximity to a favorable response does not minimize the praying and asking for guidance as one could still take a wrong step.
His desire was to find favor with the King to restore the land that God had given to his people. He needed the kings’ help! So, he asked…
- V5 – “Send me to Judah…” and “Let me build it…”
- V7 – “Give me letters for the governors to help me cross over to Judah…”
- V8 – “Give me letters for Asaph so I may get timber from your forest to rebuild…”
Nehemiah has a burden to do and the King is a “helper” – put their two energies and abilities together and they can accomplish a mighty task! The King gives him permission and sends him on his way and sends Captains of the army and Horsemen with him (V9).
In retrospect, and with a broader view of scripture, we find that God has been working on the King on many fronts.
- Ezra 7:21 And I, even I Artaxerxes the king, do make a decree to all the treasurers which are beyond the river, that whatsoever Ezra the priest, the scribe of the law of the God of heaven, shall require of you, it be done speedily,
Up to this point, Nehemiah has been impacted by two different groups of people:
- The first group is the “We can make it happen” group – This included Nehemiah and those that surround him.
- The second group is the “Let’s help things happen” group – This included the King.
We are not here to make war with this world… They are available to us to do accomplish our mission. Jesus even said we are to “Love” our enemies and this is how we are a good witness to them. Check out Luke 6 where he says we should do unto them the same way we want to be done unto us…
As Nehemiah and the Kings Men approach Jerusalem, there is a challenge made to the work that Nehemiah wants to do, and he comes face to face with a third grouping of people.
- The last group is the “We’ll resist things from happening” group – This included the local element who did not want their good thing interrupted.
You will find these three groups in every church, business or organization, and, dare I say it – in every family. I wonder, could we identify which group we are a part of today?
- Who do you identify with? Which group are you most likely in? Back to my title, “With Whom Do You Stand?”
Let me break apart the story another level. There are several types of people that correspond to my grouping analysis. In the Last Group we find people who reject every thing that happens around them, I shall call them the Hinderers… and are compiled of two categories.
First Category – Resisters
In this grouping we find Sanballat, a Samaritan (Mixed ancestry of Jewish and Gentile descent), with a name that referenced a Lunar Deity worshipped by the local people who did not know God. He was governor of Samaria and controlled the region. He was from the town of Beth-horon which can be translated as “The house of emptiness”.
He appears to be worried the King sent someone to check on the Jews. (V10)
Second Category – Enemies
Here we find Tobia, an Ammonite. Although his name has spiritual connotations, he does not reflect he is the “Goodness of Jehovah.” The nation of Ammon has been a lifelong enemy of Israel and is not part of the promises of God. In fact, the country descends from the offspring of incest between Lot and his youngest daughter. (Gn 19:38) Never will an Ammonite possess any of the inherited lands God gives Moses. (Deut 2:19) However, they always live around the promised people of God. (We have these people in the Church Age… They live around us, but truly are enemies of the Work of God.) In Nehemiah 6 we see he is a letter writer and with many in Judah in his back pocket they all write letters against Nehemiah. Truly, he was an Enemy to the rebuilding of Jerusalem.
Finally, we need to focus our attention on being a part of that group that “Makes things happen…”
Nobody is an island and does things only on their own. It takes involvement of many people to make things happen! Nehemiah and the people of Israel had grown up in captivity but felt a strong allegiance to their home land, Jerusalem, the capital of Israel. They sacrificed land, money, and time, even at the threat of death.
In my world, as Son, Husband, Father and Pastor, I have learned something.
I am in control of two things: 1) Preparation for what MIGHT happen. 2) Response to what JUST happened. What I am not in control of is the “When” – that belongs to God.
I want to be busy about His business, and the success comes from His timing. Jesus said if your are not with him then you are against him – a scatterer and not one that gathers. (Matt 12:30)
- Resisters and Enemies can not stand with God.
- People of Accomplishment are the friend of God.
I ask you now, “With Whom Do You Stand With?” “Who do you identify with?