April 24th 2009
So the wall was completed on the twenty-fifth of Elul, in fifty-two days.
When all our enemies heard about this, all the surrounding nations were afraid and lost their self-confidence, because they realized that this work had been done with the help of our God. (Nehemiah 6:15,16)
Nehemiah had set his heart on rebuilding the broken walls of Jerusalem and God had given him success. He had gone about the task in a very systematic manner with much prayer and dependance on God. There was much opposition to this project he had undertaken but he succeeded because he fully trusted in God. Whenever there was opposition and ridicule, he immediately turned to God in prayer.
The begining of the whole endeavour was with weeping, prayer and fasting. He had enquired from his fellow Israelites about the state of the Jewish remnant that survived the exile, and also about Jerusalem and the report that he heard sent him into mourning.
They said to me, "Those who survived the exile and are back in the province are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire." When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven. (Nehemiah 1:3, 4)
He confessed his own sins and the sins of the Israelites and asked for success that he may be granted favor when he dealt with the king in this matter. He was cupbearer to king Artaxerxes.
The king granted him permission to do as he had prayed to the Lord.
Opposition was not far away and it increased as he set about the task of rebuilding the broken walls.
Opposition and Nehemiah's Strategies
1. MOCKERY & RIDICULE- But when Sanballat the Horonite, Tobiah the Ammonite official and Geshem the Arab heard about it, they mocked and ridiculed us. "What is this you are doing?" they asked. "Are you rebelling against the king?" (Nehemiah 2:19)
COURAGE, DEPENDANCE & TRUST IN GOD- I answered them by saying, "The God of heaven will give us success. We his servants will start rebuilding, but as for you, you have no share in Jerusalem or any claim or historic right to it." (Nehemiah 2:20)
2. MOCKERY & RIDICULE- When Sanballat heard that we were rebuilding the wall, he became angry and was greatly incensed. He ridiculed the Jews, and in the presence of his associates and the army of Samaria, he said, "What are those feeble Jews doing? Will they restore their wall? Will they offer sacrifices? Will they finish in a day? Can they bring the stones back to life from those heaps of rubble - burned as they are?" Tobiah the Ammonite, who was at his side, said, "What they are building - if even a fox climbed up on it, he would break down their wall of stones!" (Nehemiah 4:1-3)
PRAYER- Hear us, O our God, for we are despised. Turn their insults back on their own heads. Give them over as plunder in a land of captivity. (Nehemiah 4:4)
3. THREATS TO FIGHT- But when Sanballat, Tobiah, the Arabs, the Ammonites and the men of Ashdod heard that the repairs to Jerusalem's walls had gone ahead and that the gaps were being closed, they were very angry. They all plotted together to come and fight against Jerusalem and stir up trouble against it. (Nehemiah 4:7, 8)
PRAYER & SETTING GUARD- But we prayed to our God and posted a guard day and night to meet this threat. (Nehemiah 4:9)
4. INTERNAL DISCOURAGEMENTS- Meanwhile, the people in Judah said, "The strength of the laborers is giving out, and there is so much rubble that we cannot rebuild the wall." Then the Jews who lived near them came and told us ten times over, "Wherever you turn, they will attack us." (Nehemiah 4:10, 12)
SETTING GUARD & ENCOURAGING WORDS- Therefore I stationed some of the people behind the lowest points of the wall at the exposed places, posting them by families, with their swords, spears and bows. After I looked things over, I stood up and said to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people, "Don't be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes." (Nehemiah 4:13, 14)
5. CUNNING PLANS- When word came to Sanballat, Tobiah, Geshem the Arab and the rest of our enemies that I had rebuilt the wall and not a gap was left in it - though up to that time I had not set the doors in the gates -
Sanballat and Geshem sent me this message: "Come, let us meet together in one of the villages on the plain of Ono." But they were scheming to harm me; (Nehemiah 6:1, 2)
CAREFUL ATTITUDE- so I sent messengers to them with this reply: "I am carrying on a great project and cannot go down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and go down to you?" Four times they sent me the same message, and each time I gave them the same answer. (Nehemiah 6:3, 4)
6. INTIMIDATION BY FALSE PROPHETS- One day I went to the house of Shemaiah son of Delaiah, the son of Mehetabel, who was shut in at his home. He said, "Let us meet in the house of God, inside the temple, and let us close the temple doors, because men are coming to kill you - by night they are coming to kill you." (Nehemiah 6:10)
COURAGEOUS ATTITUDE, PRAYER & DEPENDANCE ON GOD- But I said, "Should a man like me run away? Or should one like me go into the temple to save his life? I will not go!"
I realized that God had not sent him, but that he had prophesied against me because Tobiah and Sanballat had hired him. (Nehemiah 6:11, 12)
Remember Tobiah and Sanballat, O my God, because of what they have done; remember also the prophetess Noadiah and the rest of the prophets who have been trying to intimidate me. (Nehemiah 6:14)
Thus the wall was built in 52 days despite much ridicule, mockery, threats, intimidation and discouragemnets.
WE CAN LEARN FROM NEHEMIAH'S STRATEGIES. HE DEPENDED MUCH ON PRAYER, GODLY WISDOM, COURAGE AND A CAREFUL ATTITUDE WHILE GOING ABOUT DOING HIS TASK AND ALSO SIMULTANEOUSLY DEALING WITH HIS ENEMIES.