There is always the temptation do a detour from our calling, God’s original intension, the word we have heard from the Lord, when the winds of life begin to blow or the fires of affliction rage.
Satan will use the opportunity to tempt us: ‘Hath God said?’(Gen3:1)
And if we meditate long on what he says we will find ourselves agree with Him and doubting what we heard. (Gen3:6-7)
Nehemiah was burdened with the rebuilding of the broken down walls of Jerusalem. God gave him favour with the King, who not only gave him permission to go but also gave him protection and provision to go and rebuild the walls.
4 Then the king said to me, “What do you request?” So I prayed to the God of heaven.
5 And I said to the king, “If it pleases the king, and if your servant has found favor in your sight, I ask that you send me to Judah, to the city of my fathers’ tombs, that I may rebuild it.”
6 Then the king said to me (the queen also sitting beside him), “How long will your journey be? And when will you return?” So it pleased the king to send me; and I set him a time.
7 Furthermore I said to the king, “If it pleases the king, let letters be given to me for the governors of the region beyond the River, that they must permit me to pass through till I come to Judah,
8 and a letter to Asaph the keeper of the king’s forest, that he must give me timber to make beams for the gates of the citadel which pertains to the temple, for the city wall, and for the house that I will occupy.” And the king granted them to me according to the good hand of my God upon me.
9 Then I went to the governors in the region beyond the River, and gave them the king’s letters. Now the king had sent captains of the army and horsemen with me.
However this initial favour and green light did not mean that everything will be smooth-sailing as we will see.
When he got home and began his vision and purpose all hell broke loose. He was opposed by those who should know better. He was ridiculed, defamed and conspired against. They even later changed their tactic and pretended they were in support of his cause but it was a ploy to derail his vision. Nehemiah refused to be conned.
10 When Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite official heard of it, they were deeply disturbed that a man had come to seek the well-being of the children of Israel.
18 And I told them of the hand of my God which had been good upon me, and also of the king’s words that he had spoken to me. So they said, “Let us rise up and build.” Then they set their hands to this good work.
19 But when Sanballat the Horonite, Tobiah the Ammonite official, and Geshem the Arab heard of it, they laughed at us and despised us, and said, “What is this thing that you are doing? Will you rebel against the king?” Neh2
1 But it so happened, when Sanballat heard that we were rebuilding the wall, that he was furious and very indignant, and mocked the Jews.
2 And he spoke before his brethren and the army of Samaria, and said, “What are these feeble Jews doing? Will they fortify themselves? Will they offer sacrifices? Will they complete it in a day? Will they revive the stones from the heaps of rubbish — stones that are burned?”
3 Now Tobiah the Ammonite was beside him, and he said, “Whatever they build, if even a fox goes up on it, he will break down their stone wall.”
1 Now it happened when Sanballat, Tobiah, Geshem the Arab, and the rest of our enemies heard that I had rebuilt the wall, and that there were no breaks left in it (though at that time I had not hung the doors in the gates),
2 that Sanballat and Geshem sent to me, saying, “Come, let us meet together among the villages in the plain of Ono.” But they thought to do me harm.
3 So I sent messengers to them, saying, “I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down. Why should the work cease while I leave it and go down to you?”
4 But they sent me this message four times, and I answered them in the same manner.
5 Then Sanballat sent his servant to me as before, the fifth time, with an open letter in his hand.
God was behind him and gave him a few men who had the mind to work, watch and pray. The enemy came again and again with different tactics to distract, disunite and cause a detour but Nehemiah saw through the strategy of the enemy and remained defiant, focused and prayerful until the work was done in fifty-two days.
15 So the wall was finished on the twenty-fifth day of Elul, in fifty-two days.Neh6:15
The enemy also used Peter to tempt Jesus to bypass the cross but Jesus recognised this strategy and addressed the source of the opposition to the plans and purposes of God:’ Get thee behind me, Satan!’
21 From that time Jesus began to show to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day.
22 Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, “Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You!”
23 But He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.”
24 Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.
25 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.
Abraham was quick to obey God when called to leave his homeland and go to a place he would be shown. That was quite impressive. However on arrival there was a famine in the land and he made a detour to Egypt.
1 Now the LORD had said to Abram:
” Get out of your country, From your family And from your father’s house, To a land that I will show you.
2 I will make you a great nation; I will bless you And make your name great; And you shall be a blessing.
3 I will bless those who bless you, And I will curse him who curses you; And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
4 So Abram departed as the LORD had spoken to him, and Lot went with him. And Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran.
10 Now there was a famine in the land, and Abram went down to Egypt to dwell there, for the famine was severe in the land.Gen12:1-4,10
This is the danger we all face. Hardships in the Promised Land do not mean God is not in it. It does not mean we have lost our way. God has not promised us a bed of roses or platter of gold. There will be difficulties in the Land. There will be the stirring of our nest like the eagle to enable us to seek God’s face and flex our faith muscle as to rise to a higher dimension. There will be the valley of Bacca (valley of weeping, tribulation which can be used to make a place of spring to the glory of God (Ps84:4-7). The valley you face has come to take you from strength to strength, glory to glory and faith to faith.
There will be some light afflictions that will come to work for us indirectly to bring us in to the place of reigning with Christ because we have suffered with Him.
So hardship endorses the will of God rather than oppose the will of God. In fact if you’re not having opposition in your Promised Land you need to be concerned that you may be compromising or out of God’s will for your life. God will stretch you and I to bring the best out of us. We may moan and groan, but we will also grow through our experiences.
10 But He knows the way that I take; When He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold.
Detours can happen when there is a seeming delay
1 For the vision is yet for an appointed time; But at the end it will speak, and it will not lie. Though it tarries, wait for it; Because it will surely come, It will not tarry. Hab.2:3
Sarah prevailed on Abraham to take her made and help God to fulfil the promise he had given because of seeming delay. This led to the birth of Ishmael- a child of the flesh that became a thorn in their flesh. (Gen16:1-8)
God does not need our help to fulfil His plans for our lives. True we have our part to play but we need to distinguish this part we have to play from actually interfering and running ahead of God.
Moses also ran ahead of God and had to be put in the backburner until all his strength was gone. ( Ex2:11-15,Ex3)
Detour can happen when we are opposed
But we must be adamant like Jesus, like Isaiah, like Jeremiah, like Paul, like Ezekiel
5 ” For the Lord GOD will help Me; Therefore I will not be disgraced; Therefore I have set My face like a flint, And I know that I will not be ashamed.
7 Like adamant stone, harder than flint, I have made your forehead; do not be afraid of them, nor be dismayed at their looks, though they are a rebellious house.”
17 ” Therefore prepare yourself and arise, And speak to them all that I command you. Do not be dismayed before their faces, Lest I dismay you before them.
18 For behold, I have made you this day A fortified city and an iron pillar, And bronze walls against the whole land — Against the kings of Judah, Against its princes, Against its priests, And against the people of the land.
19 They will fight against you, But they shall not prevail against you. For I am with you,” says the LORD, “to deliver you.”
Paul would not be deterred from pursuing his purpose despite his previous achievements or failures or of the oppositions he faced after coming to Christ. He resolved to press on for the mark of the prize of the high-calling in Christ.
13 Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead,
14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.Phil3:13-14
Detours can happen when there is famine, persecution
1 There was a famine in the land, besides the first famine that was in the days of Abraham. And Isaac went to Abimelech king of the Philistines, in Gerar.
2 Then the LORD appeared to him and said: “Do not go down to Egypt; live in the land of which I shall tell you. Gen26:1-2
16 saying, “What shall we do to these men? For, indeed, that a notable miracle has been done through them is evident to all who dwell in Jerusalem, and we cannot deny it.
17 But so that it spreads no further among the people, let us severely threaten them, that from now on they speak to no man in this name.”
18 So they called them and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus.
19 But Peter and John answered and said to them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge.
20 For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.”
21 So when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding no way of punishing them, because of the people, since they all glorified God for what had been done.
So are you facing opposition in your Promised Land? Are you facing severe trial after obeying what you have heard? Are the giants, lions and bears out in full force and displaying their fangs, frightening and tormenting you?
Hang in there! See them as bread and stepping stones to a higher ground. God is for you with you and in you. Find out the new territory God wants to use the opposition to lift you to. Give no place to the devil. If God be for you who can be against you?
Remember Paul who through his opposition, tribulations hardships, shipwrecks, false accusations, imprisonments, beatings with rods, stoning, thrashing, wrote best sellers which we now enjoy.
God wants to birth something awesome through your challenges. ‘Don’t waste your sorrows.’ Squeeze every juice out of them to leave a legacy for all-time.
No Detour, Despite Delays
Opposition or deprivation.
No detours, despite persecution
In hardship or in fellowship.
No detour, despite delays
There is a way through the way
He is faithful all the way
And will answer as I pray.
I set my face on the cross
To behold the Lord Jesus
Who turned my minus to plus
Who lives in me in full force.
Going to the other side
Crossing the river that’s wide
Knowing that He’s on my side
And so my storm I will ride.