The One Year® Chronological Bible, NKJV (Tyndale, 2013), September 18
“Now it happened when Sanballat, Tobiah, Geshem the Arab, and the rest of our enemies heart that I had rebuilt the way, and that there were no breaks left in it . . . 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” (Neh. 6:1-2).
God’s work always attracts opposition, as do God’s people.
This opposition faced by Nehemiah demonstrates several truths about the strategy of God’s enemies:
- God’s enemies mock the upright, using slurs and name-calling. Sanballat calls the exiles “feeble Jews” (4:2).
- God’s enemies seek to demoralize the the righteous by pointing to the hopelessness of their task, and they declare, “Will they complete it in a day? Will they revive the stones from heaps of rubbish—stones that are burned? . . . Whatever they build, if even a fox goes up on it, he will break down their stone wall” (Neh. 4:2-3).
- God’s enemies band together to create confusion (4:8).
- God’s enemies seek to destroy the righteous covertly: “They will neither know nor see anything, till we come into their midst and kill them and cause their work to cease” (4:11).
- God’s enemies often begin their attack by demanding meetings. Five times Sanballat, Tobiah and Geshem send messages to Nehemiah, demanding that he meet with them, “Come, let us meet together among the villages in the plain of Ono” (6:2; 4). Instead of meeting with them, Nehemiah meets with God!
- God’s enemies falsely assume the worst and proclaim the worst. Sanballat falsely accuses Nehemiah of selfish-ambition: “You are rebuilding the wall, that you may be their king” (6:6)
- God’s enemies hide behind unnamed accusers—“It is reported”(6:6).
- God’s enemies use fear tactics by paying others to speak discouraging words to make the righteous look like paranoid cowards, “Let us meet together in the house of God, within the temple, and let us close the doors of the temple, for they are coming to kill you” (6:10). Instead of running to the temple, Nehemiah runs to God.
- God’s enemies use pen and ink to attack; they write inflammatory letters (6:17).
- God’s enemies never concede to defeat. Tobiah continues his letter writing campaign against Nehemiah (Today, he would be an avid blogger) after the walls are rebuilt. Undaunted by Tobaiah and his followers’ attacks, Nehemiah cries out to God, remains focused on the task at hand, and completes the rebuilding of the city walls in record time.
This story reveals a number of truths about the enemy, God, and His work:
- Had Nehemiah not had opposition, he probably would have dawdled along in the work and taken forever to complete the building of the walls. Therefore, God uses opposition redemptively to accomplish His purposes.
- Running to God in prayer keeps His servant and His people focused on the task at hand. The opposition isn’t Nehemiah’s problem but God’s.
- Nehemiah helps us today to understand that opposition is a divine opportunity to see God at work.
Questions from today’s chronological Bible reading (Neh. 3:1-7:3):
What impact did the record setting 52-day rebuilding of the wall have on those watching the building project?
What reason does Nehemiah 6:18 give to describe the cause of Tobiah’s (the Ammonite) powerful influence? How does this reinforce Ezra’s message regarding intermarriage?