God Said To Build The Wall - Part II
“And I arose in the night, I and some few men with me, neither told I any man what my God had put in my heart to do at Jerusalem.” — Nehemiah 2:12
Last month we explored the importance and necessity of building the walls and gates around Jerusalem. In this article, we will examine the resulting opposition to building those walls. Anytime a believer takes a step of faith in obeying God, he can expect opposition (I Pet. 4:12). Satan only fights things that hinder him from stealing, killing, and destroying (Jn. 10:10). Another biblical principle is that the greater the hindrance to Satan, the greater the opposition will be. Finally, the purpose of the opposition of Satan is to attack and undermine the faith of believers so they will stop their obedience to God. Both God and Satan know that before a Christian can obey from the heart (Rom. 6:17), he must first have his faith in the right object. Not only must the Christian do the right thing, but he must also do it for the right reason or it is not biblical obedience. All of this is exemplified as Nehemiah rebuilds the walls and gates of Jerusalem.
Several times it is specifically stated how the goal and purpose of the opposition was to slow down and stop the construction of the wall and gates. The reason they were plotting to attack the Jews was to hinder them and cause the work to stop (Neh. 4:8, 11). Another time, they invited Nehemiah to meet with them several miles from Jerusalem so they could kill him and the work would stop (Neh. 6:3). When that didn’t work, they wrote an open letter to the Jews falsely accusing Nehemiah of wanting them to build the wall and gates for his personal benefit so that he could be their king. By doing this, they tried to undermine the Jews’ loyalty to Nehemiah so they would quit working (Neh. 6:9).
One of Satan’s greatest tactics is to use fear to discourage believers from obeying Him. This is what they tried to do when they plotted to sneak up on the workers and kill them. But Nehemiah exposed this and their effort to make the workers afraid (Neh. 4:14), and he told them to protect themselves. They also tried to make the workers fearful in distrusting Nehemiah when they attacked his motives (Neh. 6:9). They tried to make Nehemiah fearful when they paid a prophet to say they were going to kill him unless he sought refuge in the temple (Neh. 6:13-14), which would have been sinful since Nehemiah was not a priest. They even tried to make Nehemiah afraid after the wall and gates were finished by having Jewish nobles write letters to him supporting Tobiah to put political pressure on him (Neh. 6:19).
As will be evident, the type and results of the opposition increased as more was accomplished. At first, Sanballat and Tobiah were only grieved when they heard of Nehemiah’s intentions. Then they mocked and ridiculed the Jews when they decided to help with the building and falsely accused them of rebelling against the very king who had given them his approval.
When they actually started building, Sanballat tried to intimidate them by becoming extremely furious. When the wall was half done, the enemies became so desperate that they made a plan to attack the builders to stop them from building.
When none of these things worked, and only the gates were left to be made, Sanballat and Geshem sent a letter to Nehemiah asking him to meet them several miles away from Jerusalem where they planned to kill him. When Nehemiah refused, they sent a public message to all the Jews trying to undermine their loyalty to him by accusing him of building the wall just so he could be king over them.
When that failed, they told Nehemiah someone was going to kill him, but that he would be safe in the temple. This would be a sin since he was not a priest and that would disqualify him as their leader and would discourage the Jews from following him.
The enemy did everything he could to slow and stop the work of God. This included his attempt to cause fear in several ways and increasing the severity of the opposition if one of his ways didn’t work. Believers should expect the same type of tactics from Satan.
In the next issue of The Evangelist, we will review how Nehemiah responded to this opposition.