Before we get started – go and read these two chapters. This part of the book of Nehemiah is very exciting as you learn that the wall is put up successfully, but that doesn’t mean that it happens without disturbance from the opposition. Through this God is faithful and his servant, Nehemiah, is reliant on Him. That’s been the them throughout…now go read and I’ll see you back here in a few.
This chapter starts off and is mainly about how Nehemiah’s opposition is now coming hard at him. They want him gone. They’re sick and tired of what he’s doing and quite frankly I believe they’re scared out of their wit. They’re seeing God at work by the wall going up so instead of attacking the wall, they just want to bring Nehemiah down personally. Sanballot and Geshem (the opposition) sent letters to Nehemiah, trying to coax him into coming their way, but Nehemiah was focused and had his priorities in line. He responds in a gentle way in verse 3 by letting them know that he is diligently at work by saying, “I am doing a great work [God’s work] and I cannot come down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and come down to you?” The opposition, in fact, sent to him four different times and each time he wasn’t swayed and responded in the same manner. Nehemiah was clearly focused and those who were coming against him didn’t faze him. He trusted in God undoubtedly. The thing with good leadership and living a good Christian life is that you trust God even when times get tough. This rang true for Nehemiah when he had to face a letter that you can see in verses 6-7. This letter that was sent was an open one that was for all of the people that Nehemiah was leading. Nehemiah plainly denies all of these accusations (that were obviously untrue) and doesn’t rely on himself to handle the situation but instead turns to God – “but now, O God, strengthen my hands,” he wrote. Nehemiah’s trust in God came from his reliance on God.
Moving on in the chapter, Nehemiah’s opposition is now going the route of trickery. They’re trying to turn him against God and his people against him. They do this with a false prophet. Go back and read verses 10-14 and try to pick out what characteristic that you see coming through in Nehemiah’s reliance on God.
It’s Discernment! Nehemiah uses discernment to respond in this situation in such a God-honoring way. Allow me to quote Raymond Brown and his explanation of what is happening here:
The time Nehemiah spend with God made Him sensitive to divine guidance and warning. He was prompted by God to refuse the invitation, knowing that his enemies were set on His destruction. Throughout the centuries, Christians have been grateful to God not only for sensitive promptings as to what they might do but clear warnings about what should be avoided. The gift of discernment is a choice spiritual quality [wow, getting a bit theological on you here], urgently necessary when apparently reasonable ideas harbor the seeds of potential disaster. In the first century, John told his readers [the Gospel of John] that they must not merely accept things which have an appearance of being helpful or useful; evil ay be lurking under the [dis]guise of the good. They are to ‘test the spirits to see whether they are from God’ (1 John 4:1).
Discernment is crucial for successful spiritual living, but not something you come by on your own.
Allow me to switch gears for just a moment to talk about the enemies of Gods work that you find led by the trio of Tobiah, Sanballot and Geshem. These three are really something as they are hard at work against Nehemiah. But the truth of the matter is that God is faithful and that Nehemiah is successful because of that fact and that fact alone. Those three can try to fight Gods will all they want but it’s like an ant going up against the Incredible Hulk. We all are going to face enemies in our lives and we need to not try to defeat them ourselves. If we try to fend for ourselves, we are relying on ourselves. As Nehemiah did, we must rely on God and His power to do what He wants with them. This doesn’t always mean things will get better right away or even in a short amount of time, but responding to enemy attack with going to God is something that is a powerful force for good.
Let’s campout on verses 15-16. Hopefully by now you have your Bible open in front of you or another tab open on your laptop/cell phone so that you can access the verses I mention easily. Please take time to go back and read these verses that I mention. God has a way of showing you things when you take time to reread His Scripture and digest it. So anyway, go read those two.
Let me point out the amazing aspects of these verses:
- This entire process that Nehemiah has been through – from the time he spoke with the king to the time his walls (minus the doors) were up – only took around 6 months. Think about this. This is an amazing accomplishment especially without the technology and machinery that we have today. God was clearly at work!
- The enemies of Nehemiah saw that God was at work. It was evident that He was the one working through Nehemiah as a leader and through the workers that he was leading.
- Nations fell around them in awe and fear of what had been done! This surely included the trio that was against the work that was being done.
God’s at work and it’s apparent. When you allow God to work in and through your life, people are going to notice! In this case it was the nations surrounding Jerusalem. Keep in mind that the enemies feared God, not Nehemiah. In fact, Nehemiah was such a Godly and great leader because of God. Nehemiah couldn’t have done this under his own power. Although his work is commendable and his reliance on God by striving towards Him in all things is amazing – God was the accomplisher of this work that was happening.
Nehemiah takes some caution here by setting some men up to secure the premise and God lays it on Nehemiah’s heart to create a list of those who returned from exile. He does so. Read this chapter and reflect on the work that has been done as you do so.
Next stop is the Covenant Renewal that is found in chapters 8-10, but that’s for later this week! See you soon.
- Trusting in God goes hand-in-hand with relying on Him.
- Discernment is from God. Rely on Him – He’ll work in you.
- Enemies cannot come up against God or those who are adhering to His will.
:: Quote taken from The Message of Nehemiah: The Bible Speaks Today by Raymond Brown, edited by J.A. Motyer.