Thursday, October 30, 2014

Press On!

He dumped the remainder of his drink into the fire, and took a step back as the flames licked up the alcohol and jumped skyward.  Not even wine could brighten his mood now. "Curse them by all the gods," he mumbled under his breath.

The camp was alight with a dozen or so fires, all surrounded with angry men. They had set up camp nearby the Jews. It was Sanballet's personal mission to destroy them, but when he got word that they had been granted permission from the king to continue building, Sanballet had exploded in fury. Now, he sat surrounded by his brothers and six or seven of the finest men in the Samarian army. They all chugged their alcohol, and then clumsily groped for the wine skins to refill their empty glasses and mugs. Nearby, the Israelite guards watched them like hawks, determined to make sure none of them would cross into their territory.

His younger brother, Cina, raised his own glass of wine to the roof. "Curse them by all the gods." he echoed. His voice was gruff and slurred from the amount of alcohol he had consumed.

Sanballat threw his empty glass into the flames in his anger, the fit of rage consuming and commanding his very soul. "What are these feeble Jews doing? Will they restore their temple for themselves? Will they sacrifice? No." He started to pace back and forth, and more of the sloshed men started to pay attention to his ranting. "Do they think they will have it finished in a day? The thought is laughable. They act like they can revive the rubble and heal the stones scorched by fire. Fools."

"That's right!" Tobiah, an Ammonite by birth, stood up along side him. "What exactly do they think they are building? If a fox was to climb onto it, he would break their stone wall!" He turned toward the Jewish camp and started screaming the taunt. The Jewish guards stiffened at their words, but made no moves to engage them.

The men around them roared with laughter. As the night went on, their mockery only grew in strength. Sanballat smiled for the first time since he got the news as he thought about all those fools falling asleep to their words of mockery.

Based on Nehemiah 4:1-3

So I wrote this scene to show how Sanballat and his cohorts were against the Jewish people. These people made it their mission to stop, oppose, taunt, and destroy the work that the Jewish people were doing.

Do you know what Nehemiah had to say about it?

"Hear, O our God, for we are despised. Turn back their taunt on their own heads and give them up to be plundered in a land where they are captives. Do not cover their guilt, and let not their sin be blotted our from your sight, for they have provoked you to anger in the presence of the builders." Nehemiah 4:4-5

The very next verses after Sanballet's taunt was Nehemiah's response to it:

God, you deal with them.

What did the Jewish people do next?

"So we built the wall. And all the wall was joined together to half its height, for the people had a mind to work." Nehemiah 4:6

They went about their job, their call, their responsibility. They didn't let their enemies' words stop them for doing what they knew they were supposed to do. How often do we let the words of others, words of people who don't even serve God, deflate our will? We have to respond like Nehemiah and the Jewish people did. We have to pray, give it to God to deal with, and do what we were called to do. The enemies are going to hate and mock and taunt. You and I have to keep going.

"For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may recieve what is promised." Hebrews 10:36

"Nevertheless, I must go on my way today and tomorrow and the day following...." Luke 13:33a

We have to endure to get what God has promised. That means not letting every stupid thing every stupid person says to us take us out of the race. We have to shake it off. We have to press on. Amen.

V. Joy Palmer

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