Nehemiah is not the only one who faced backyard bullies who used their strength or power to intimidate the weaker Jerusalemites. Joshua and Jabez did as well. Bully's tactics begin as a low rumble and escalate to a roar! They are jealous, angry, scornful, mockers who plant invidious ideas and thoughts to distract and scare. Our children meet these backyard bullies with their taunts and scary words. They meet them when they are faced with pressure to log on and be a part of the social media scene. Help them to see and understand that bullies are like that because essentially bullies are scaredy cats who are all bluff and no substance. Peter wrote about it [1Peter 4] “don’t be astonished” when this happens. Nehemiah and many others experienced it. And our children will face them too.
Bullies taunt with words. It began for Nehemiah when he arrived and the backyard bullies became displeased that someone had come to seek benefit for the Israelites. Like today, they sit and stew inventing ways to bully us from accomplishing our tasks. Those that Nehemiah met wanted the restoration of the walls and gates of Jerusalem to stop because they would lose control economically and religiously. As it was then it is today. Our world is experiencing what has become known as “Christopohobia,” an irrational and fearful opposition to God. It began in the Garden and will continue until Christ returns.
Nehemiah was well aware of the backyard bullies but he was also a praying man and a man who walked and talked with God on a moment by moment basis. Prayer is the first order of business. Secondly, he was unashamed to confess the name of God. He trusted that the God who gave him the plan and the permission would bring it to pass. And lastly, he called a spade a spade: he told them that they had no just or ancient right to Jerusalem. [Neh 2:20] They may have considered themselves worthy but their hearts, words and actions proved otherwise. And that is the message bullies need to hear.
Our little people do face backyard bullies in their neighborhoods, in their schools, and yes in their families. Help them by teaching them to do what Nehemiah and Joshua did. The best antidote to bullies is to know God’s Word and hide it in your heart. Here’s what Joshua said to the ones who were facing the taunts: “Be strong and courageous. Don’t be afraid, don’t panic, I the Lord your God am with you.” [Joshua 1] Teach them the prayer Jabez prayed when he faced the bullies who taunted him because of his name. He called on the God of Israel, saying, "Oh that You would bless me indeed and enlarge my border, and that Your hand might be with me, and that You would keep me from harm that it may not pain me!" And God granted him what he requested. [1Chron 14]