Nehemiah Chapter 4
"Opposition to Building the Wall."
Bible Study is written by Roger Christopherson, and it's
This chapter four is kind of an insert and a kind of history that shows us the troubles that Nehemiah faced when he started the task of building the walls. It shows that people can get into a rut, if they are not careful, but we will see in chapter four how to take care of our enemies, or those that oppose you, when trying to carry out your work for the Lord.
Chapter four is still history, while chapter five will cover personal feelings, and actions to them.
Nehemiah 4:1 "But it came to pass, that when Sanballat heard that we builded the wall, he was wroth, and took great indignation, and mocked the Jews."
This indignation of Sanballat, who was the governor of Samaria, was directed at the "tribe of Judah". This could be intimidating if Nehemiah and the people of Judah let it. It is like trying to make something right by the mere fact that you have the majority, or those in charge on the side of a lie, and an injustice. The press, and political and religious groups try this all the time.
This was a strong point made by Sanballat, as he pointed to the conditions of the city streets and walls, including the burned gates. He was telling them that anyone that even considered rebuilding this was foolish. He even made it personal to the people of Judah, after he heard that they had started the task.
In this end generation, Ezekiel 38 points out that God is our wall, the full wall of protection for all the deceptions that will come upon us. We are building that wall to be our fortress and though the enemy, the devil and his forces comes against us in ridicule and deceptions. The wall we have also depends on the watchman on the wall, and that watchman is each of us, as we stand guard and watch for the signs of the times, and study His Word.
Nehemiah 4:2 "And he spake before his brethren and the army of Samaria, and said, "What do these feeble Jews? will they fortify themselves? will they sacrifice? will they make an end in a day? will they revive the stones out of the heaps of the rubbish which are burned?"
Notice how Sanballat holds the Jews up for scorn. He asks Are they going to build an army for themselves? Are they going to reestablish their worship to their God, and do they think they can do this in a day? He asks the people of Samaria, What in the world do they think they are going to do with this mess? This is asked by the governor to stir up the people into a state of anger.
There was a stone found in Aramaic papyrus, and discovered in 1909 at Elephantine in Egypt, and it was written by two Jews (Delaya and Shelemya) tothe son of Sanballat, "the Governor of Samaria". The Bible proves itself daily, and the past is dug up, and the prophecies come true.
Nehemiah 4:3 "Now Tobiah the Ammonite was by him, and he said, "Even that which they build, if a fox go up, he shall even break down their stone wall."
This Tobiah was a freed slave, and now a servant to Sanballat, and this man found strength in his words while standing next to the governor. After the governor said his words, Tobiah spouts off that even the foxes and run over and through their walls.
Now when the world from top to bottom ridicules you for your beliefs, and the work that you do for our Heavenly Father, What do you do?
Nehemiah 4:4 "Hear, O our God; for we are despised: and turn their reproach upon their own head, and give them for a prey in the land of captivity:"
God is our protection, and when the going gets tough, it is time for the tough to get going. It is time to use common sense, and take the problems that our enemies put before us to the Him. The reproach that they put upon our head, God will in turn put upon their head. All vengeance is God's and God can deal with it far more severe that we can in the flesh. However, we are to use the common sense that God gave us, and protect our own.
When we approach God in honesty and with a repentive heart, god hears us, and our battles become His.
Nehemiah 4:5 "And cover not their iniquity, and let not their sin be blotted out from beforeThee: for they have provoked Thee to anger before the builders."
The phrase "cover not their iniquity", means "let sin come forth [be known]". In other words, because it was God Himself that ordered the building of the wall, Nehemiah is saying it is God that will do the correct of those that would sin against those doing the work. It is God's right to avenge the sins of the Governor.
Not only had God ordered the wall to be built through Nehemiah, but as we saw in Ezra, God ordered King Cyrus to build the Temple and the walls of Jerusalem. God fixed in Cyrus' heart that he should not stand in the way, but also provide the money, materials and help for their completion.
What we should bring out of this is that when God orders us to do something, and puts that desire within us, He will also provide the means and the protection to see that it is completed, as long as we keep focused on the matter. When we know from the prophecy of God's word that God has ordered us to do a certain thing, it is God that will prevent our enemies from hindering us from doing it. That is what the case is here; Nehemiah knew that God gave the order for the work that was about to start.
Nehemiah 4:6 "So built we the wall; and all the wall was joined together unto the half thereof: for the People had a mind to work."
The people of Jerusalem had heard Nehemiah's words, and their hearts were in the right place. They were not holding back, but they were ready to get on with the work at hand. This didn't mean that at this point the wall was half finished, but the entire wall was finished only half way up. The entire wall was under construction all at the same time, and each part was given over to different families for their individual responsibility.
Nehemiah 4:7 "But it came to pass, that when Sanballat, and Tobiah, and the Arabians, and the Ammonites, and the Ashdodites, heard that the walls of Jerusalem were made up, and that the breaches began to be stopped, then they were very wroth,"
When the gates were rebuilt from the timber that Cyrus had given them, and the higher the wall went up, the more heated the heathen nations around Jerusalem became about it.
Nehemiah 4:8 "And conspired all of them together to come and to fight against Jerusalem, and to hinder it."
Anytime you start a good work, there will be those that will at first simply ridicule you, then as they see the work coming to a success, they will come together to form a force against you. It is no different today then it was in Nehemiah's day. It isn't wrong to be concerned, however these paranoiac, doubters, and worriers are coming to a point of fighting.
Remember the words of Jesus, where He said that a wise builder plans and knows that before he starts, he has the money to complete the building. Or that if a wise General is going to fight an army, he sends out his spies, or ambassadors to see the size of the enemy and the weapons the have, and whether or not it is possible to defeat them. If he sees that he can't defeat them, then it is time to make peace with them.
So it is here, anytime we have set out to do some work for the Lord, or even in our business, we are to be positive in what we do, and focused on the task at hand until the job is done.
Nehemiah 4:9 "Nevertheless we made our prayer unto our God, and set a watch against them day and night, because of them."
Remember they still have the guards that Cyrus sent with them, and and they posted their own guards on a continual watch to guard against a surprise attack. They didn't just pray and leave it to the Lord; they set a watch, and prepared for the worst, then they continued the work at hand. The kept weapons in hand and by their side, as they did the spiritual work of building the wall.
When the trouble comes the first thing is to pray, as Nehemiah did, and ask for God's wisdom, and protection, and then after the prayer, he did something about it.
Nehemiah 4:10 "And Judah said, "The strength of the bearers of burdens is decayed, and there is much rubbish; so that we are not able to build the wall."
The people of Judah knew that the work was heavy, and the amount of energy was going to be great to finish the wall.
Nehemiah 4:11 "And our adversaries said, "They shall not know, neither see, till we come in the midst among them, and slay them, and cause the work to cease."
To understand this verse, we have to keep in mind that many of the people lived in the surrounding area, around Jerusalem. They came into the city to work in the day, and returned home in the evening for chores, and sleep. The plan of the enemy was to attack the workers that lived outside the city, and kill them, or and make life so difficult that it would cause the work to stop.
Nehemiah had his spies, and they brought that plan to him, and Nehemiah was able to prepare for it. Notice the order of events that take place. First you pray and plan for your work, then you do the work and sweat and toil to get the work done, then here comes another threat by the enemy to do you in. This can cause some people to worry, and miss the true reality, that God has his wall around you.
When it appears today that the world is caving in around you, and things are getting tough that is the time to put things in true perspective, ask God for the help, and pay attention to what happen and watch those problems fall by the way side. If it is just words, they can't bother you, unless you allow them to destroy you. Satan will try you if you let him do so.
Nehemiah 4:12 "And it came to pass, that when the Jews which dwelt by them came, they said unto us ten times, "From all places whence ye shall return unto us they will be upon you."
This has lost some in the translation. What it is saying is that the roamers came upon the women and children left at home, outside the city, and these roamers increased ten times, and they were asking the men folk over and over to rush home to protect them. "Ten times" merely means that this was happening over and over again, continually.
Nehemiah 4:13 "Therefore set I in the lower places behind the wall, and on the higher places, I even set the people after their families with their swords, their spears, and their bows."
Part of this is a little deceptive. Nehemiah sent the men folks home to bring their families back to Jerusalem, to live within the walls and security of Jerusalem walls. Then he set guards and fighting men on the low places of the wall where the enemy could come through, and on the high points, he posted guards to watch of anyone approaching the city. All the men were well armed and well equipped, and ready for the enemy.
Nehemiah 4:14 "And I looked, and rose up, and said unto the nobles, and to the rulers, and to the rest of the People, "Be not ye afraid of them: remember the Lord, Which is great and terrible, and fight for your brethren, your sons, and your daughters, your wives, and your houses."
This word from Nehemiah is to the heads of the various families, and groups of People working on the wall, to stop being afraid. Remember the Lord, and the wall of protection they have around them. He is reminding them that God is their wall, and He will give them the strength to protect their families and their houses.
In our daily lives, if we allow the world to bring us fear, that is an insult to our heavenly Father. If we are serving Him, God counts it as perfect; and if we have fear, we are telling our Heavenly Father that He can't protect you. Friend with that attitude, that is exactly what the enemy will do.
Nehemiah 4:15 "And it came to pass, when our enemies heard that it was known unto us, and God had brought their counsel to naught, that we returned all of us to the wall, every one unto his work."
This "counsel to naught", is what we call the "element of surprise". In other words what Nehemiah and the people had done when the false rumors of the Governor and his heathen allies planned to attack them, foiled the plans to Nehemiah's enemies. The enemy now knew that they had been found out, and there had not been one sword extended, nor one man died, and all the time all it was, was a bunch of talk. It was deception, and the enemy was afraid, and they had no intention of going against the Jews when they were so well fixed on their mission, and determined to build the wall and protect their families.
Nehemiah 4:16 "And it came to pass from that time forth, that the half of my servants wrought in the work, and the other half of them held both the spears, the shields, and the bows, and the habergeons; and the rulers were behind all the house of Judah."
Nehemiah instilled discipline into the people of Judah, and as they were working in the building of the walls and gates, they never once let their guard down.
Nehemiah 4:17 "They which builded on the wall, and they that bare burdens, with those that laded, every one with one of his hands wrought in the work, and with the other hand held a weapon."
Nehemiah 4:18 "For the builders, every on had his sword girded by his side, and so builded. And he that sounded the trumpet was by me."
We are living in the generation that will hear seven trumpets, before the end of this generation comes to a close. Even today it is possible that the first three have already been sounded, however when the fifth trumpet you had better have your wall in place, and ready for all the deceptions that will follow, for that is the seal or knowledge that will allow you to stand in that day.
Nehemiah knew the importance of alerting all the people, and having them recognize the meaning of the sounding of the trumpet, that when the sound came, the people would not be confused, but react in unity and with discipline. That trumpet would only be sounded at the proper time, and it would be at Nehemiah's order.
Remember that Paul told us in I Corinthians 10, that all these things would happen as an example of how it would be in the end times.
Nehemiah 4:19 "And I said unto the nobles, and to the rulers, and to the rest of the people, "The work is great and large, and we are separated upon the wall, one far from another upon the wall."
This is the reason for the use of the trumpet. Nehemiah is explaining to the people in charge that the city was to large for everyone to see each other, and hear the orders, and that this was the reason for the trumpet.
Nehemiah 4:20 "In what place therefore ye hear the sound of the trumpet, resort ye thither unto us: our God shall fight for us."
Nehemiah is reminding them that when the trumpet sounds, and they go to battle, God will also be there to fight in the battle.
Nehemiah 4:21 "So we laboured in the work: and half of the held the spears from the rising of the morning till the stars appeared."
Nehemiah 4:22 "Likewise at the same time said I unto the people, "Let every one with his servant lodge within Jerusalem, that in the night they may be a guard to us, and labour on the day."
Nehemiah is asking all the people living outside the city to move into the city, and thereby the pure numbers of people will offer the best defense. The message to us is that we should always plan for the day, and the things that have to be done. Think on them and pray about what has to be done.
Nehemiah 4:23 "So neither I, nor my brethren, nor my servants, nor the men of the guard which followed me, none of us put off our clothes, saving that every one put them off for washing."
This is referring to Nehemiah, his servants and all the soldiers and people that made the trip to Jerusalem with him, stayed on guard continually. These soldiers, or guards are the very collectors of tribute from the king, that would be part of the protection of Jerusalem. These were Persian guards, and the enemies of Nehemiah knew that if they took arms against Jerusalem, with the king's guards in defense, they would be taking arms against the king himself.
When the battle comes, it is important to keep all the cloths of the day on, in that day the cloths were the armor of verse sixteen. That in a spiritual sense is the armor of Ephesians 6:10-20, that we are told to put on and wear to fight against the fiery darts of the devil. Remember this is an example as to what God's elect will face in the final days of this age. The washing here can also apply to a good spiritual cleansing, and when all of the armor is on and in place, then every piece of that armor will protect you completely.
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