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ch. 6:1-14   ch. 6:15 to 7:3

Further Opposition To The Rebuilding (ch. 6:1 - 14)

 

In verses 1 and 2 of chapter six we see the building of the wall was pretty well completed. The only thing left was to put some doors on some gates.  We need to distinguish between the gates and the doors.  There were actually doors in the large gates people could walk through.  

 

Since the enemies of the Jews were not successful in hindering the Jews in their project, Sanballat and Geshem the Arab wrote a letter to Nehemiah.  This letter was a request to meet together on the plain of Ono. To me, this suggests that Sanballat was hoping that Nehemiah viewed this meeting as a peace treaty, but Nehemiah saw through Sanballat's plan.  If the enemies of  God can't defeat you in battle, they often try to defeat you in forming some kind of an alliance.  When the alliance is formed, the work of God ends.  You cannot align yourself with both God and the devil.  Such an attempt puts you on the devil's side.

 

Verse 2 says that Sanballat was scheming to harm Nehemiah and those with him.  If Nehemiah would have taken Sanballat up on his offer, and offer that might have looked like a peace offer, it would have been their death.  The army of Sanballat would have killed Nehemiah and his men with no trouble.

 

In verse 3 we see that Nehemiah sent an answer to Sanballat by way of some messengers.  Nehemiah said that he could not leave the building project to have any kind of meeting with him.  It made no sense to Nehemiah to stop the work of God to meet with his enemies. 

 

The people of God should not try to negotiate any kind of treaty with their enemies.  God does not negotiate.  He simply speaks the truth and everyone, including His enemies either accepts the truth or rejects it.  The problem in today's world is that the people of God in many respects are trying to negotiate a peace treaty with their enemies.  That doesn't work.  It may sound nice and reasonable, but it's not God's way.  Paul clearly says that we should not be unequally yoke with non-believers (2 Cor. 6:14).  I believe this applies to both the Christian community as well as the Jewish community.

 

In verse 4 we see the persistence of Sanballat .  He sent the same letter four times in a row and Nehemiah answered the same way four times in a row.  The devil does not give up.  He will try to ware you down until you give in. 

 

After being turned down four times, we see in verse 5 that Sanballat sends Nehemiah another letter.  The contents of this letter is found in verses 5 through 8.  Basically, Sanballat says to Nehemiah that the reason why he and the Jews are building the wall is because he is planning on becoming king of the Jews and will mount a revolt against the king of Persia .  For this reason the two sides should begin to talk about the actions that Sanballat believed the Jews were about to take.

 

In verse 8 Nehemiah replies by saying that nothing of the sort is happening in Jerusalem and that Sanballat is merely making up this story. 

 

I believe there is something for us to learn here, and that is the wall that was being built around Jerusalem was not for offensive purposes but for defensive purposes.  God's people, whether Old Testament people or New Testament people should build the proper defensive walls for defensive purposes.  God's people aren't fighters in one sense of the word, but we will protect what is ours and what belongs to God.  Nehemiah wasn't looking for a fight, and neither should we be looking for one.  But we do stand up against the attacks of satan.  You will notice that the weapons of warfare that Paul speaks of in Ephesians 6 are all defensive.  You might suggest that a sword is more offensive, but a sword can also be used to defend once the attack is mounted from the enemy.  It doesn't have to be used offensively.

 

Verse 9 tells us that Nehemiah saw through Sanballat's letters.  They were an attempt to make the Jews fear them and stop the building project.  But this did not stop the wall from being built.

 

Also in verse 9 we see the response that Nehemiah had to this last letter.  After turning down Sanballat's request for the fifth time, he went to prayer and asked God for strength.  Prayer for Nehemiah was one of those defensive weapons so to speak.  God gave him strength as he spoke to Him. 

 

Nehemiah needed strength because the fight wasn't over.  In verse 10 we learn of a plot to kill Nehemiah so one of the Jews living in Jerusalem suggests to Nehemiah to go to the temple and close the doors and hide from the men who were going to come and kill him. 

 

Nehemiah responded in verse 11.  He asked Shemaiah if he should run and hide. The obvious answer was no.  A man like him should not run and hide or he would not be the man he was.  People of God should stand strong in their faith.  They don't have to hide behind anything

 

Shemaiah was acting prophetically here.  What he was saying was meant to be taken as a word from God.  But, in verse 12 we learn that Nehemiah saw through this trick of the enemy.  Sanballat had actually hired a Jew, most likely a Jew with prophetic tendencies to prophesy falsely to Nehemiah.  The result would have been that Nehemiah would have hidden himself exactly where Sanballat knew, resulting in his death. 

 

It is clear that this is yet another trick of the enemy, and this trick is very subtle.  The enemy, the devil hires one of your own to work against you.  And it is not in direct opposition to you, the this one of your own comes to you as a man of God trying to help you.  Yet, in the long run the devil is only using him to distract you from the work of God.  Nehemiah did not fall for this, and neither should we.

 

We learn in verse 14 that Nehemiah viewed such a plan as a sin that would discredit him.  The temple was not a place to hide.  It was a place to worship.   If the devil can't stop you from doing God's work, he'll try to discredit you and by so doing, give you a bad name that would surely hinder and stop God's work from moving forward.

 

The Completion Of The Wall (ch. 6:15 7:3)  

 

Despite all of the trouble and opposition to the building project, Nehemiah tells us in verse 15 that the wall was completed in 52 days.  Again, this tells us that the famine that was taking place in the land had to have begun before the building process began.  Such severe circumstances as we saw in chapter 5 concerning this famine could not have taken place so quickly or during the building process.

 

Verse 16 is somewhat astounding.  When the wall was finished, all Israel's enemies and the nations around them "lost their self confidence" because they then realized that the God of Israel indeed was behind the building project and helped the Jews restore the wall.  The successful works of God is a testimony to God Himself. 

 

It is thus important then that the works we do are really the works of God and not the works of our own hands.  If the works we do are the work of our own hands, then the result will represent us and not God.  And this is often the case in the church today.  What we do is often more of an expression of ourselves and not the Lord we are to serve.

 

In verses 17 through 19 we see a conflict in Israel.  We  see why some of the nobles did not want to take part in the building process and why they charged interest on loans to their own people.  Through mixed marriages, that is, men marrying non-Jews, Tobiah was related to some of these noblemen.  Of course such mixed marriages was in direct disobedience to God's commands.  Because of this relationship between the nobles and Tobiah, the enemy of Israel,  the nobles felt an alliance with Tobiah.  This resulted in much communication between the nobles and Tobiah through letter writing.  The nobles would relate all that was happening with Nehemiah and the building process.  Tobiah then used this information as a means of intimidation against him.  This is yet another trick of satan.  He is said to be the "accuser of the brothers."   I'm sure the information sent to Tobiah got twisted around which led to false accusations  against Nehemiah. 

 

In chapter 7 verse 1 we read that once the doors were in place on the gates, completing the restoration of the walls, Nehemiah appointed gatekeepers.   He also appointed singers and Levites.

 

At this point we need to distinguish between the gates and the doors. The doors were actually part of the gates.  They weren't the gates.

 

Nehemiah appointed singers.  It appears to me that these singers would walk around the city singing praises to their God.  This might be something like our Christian radio stations of today.  The sound of praises could be heard in the holy city and they should be heard in God's New Testament holy city as well.

 

In verse 2 we learn the Nehemiah appointed his brother Hanani to be in charge of the city of Jerusalem.  Most scholars say that Hanani was not his blood brother, but a brother Jew. This same Hanani is mentioned in chapter 1, verse 2 as one of the men who came from Jerusalem to tell Nehemiah what bad shape Jerusalem was in.  He also put Hananiah in charge of the citadel or the palace because he was a man of integrity and feared God more than most men.     

 

We learn in verse 3 that the gates could only be entered when the sun was fully up, and once dusk came, no one could enter. Ordinary men were also appointed as guards along the wall.  The city was fully on guard from any attack from their enemies, as we should be today.   This reminds me of what Jesus said when He told us that the night comes when no one can work.  We need to do God's will while His light of understanding is shining, for without God's help, our work is in vain.  

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