Nehemiah 4-6; John 16; Psalm 146
33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
9 The Lord watches over the foreigner
and sustains the fatherless and the widow,
but he frustrates the ways of the wicked. (Psalm 146:9)
How different would my life be if I truly believed God was always with me and always for me? These verses assure me this is the case. Jesus has overcome the world; my troubles are fleeting. God will protect me from my enemies—he frustrates the ways of the wicked.
Nehemiah lived his life believing these truths. As I see in chapters 4-6, he lives his life in constant dialogue with God. He prays continually to God. He was not about to undertake this project without the help of his LORD.
As the Jews rebuilt the walls, they were constantly being ridiculed and mocked. Instead of taking the bait, he took it to God:
4 Hear us, our God, for we are despised. Turn their insults back on their own heads. Give them over as plunder in a land of captivity. 5 Do not cover up their guilt or blot out their sins from your sight, for they have thrown insults in the face of the builders.
He trusted God was with them and encouraged his workers:
14 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 families, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes.”
15 When our enemies heard that we were aware of their plot and that God had frustrated it, we all returned to the wall, each to our own work.
He settles a dispute over the rich Jews exploiting the poor ones. Once the crisis has been averted and everyone has praised God, Nehemiah prays:
19 Remember me with favor, my God, for all I have done for these people.
Nehemiah was laser-focused on his task. The farther along the rebuilding of the walls progressed, the more pressure he received from the surrounding enemies. These enemies were used to looting and taking what they wanted from the people of Jerusalem. They had intimidated them, stolen from them, and destroyed the city because there was no protection. Boundaries have an important place in our lives to keep good things in and bad things out. People who are used to getting their own way often act out when boundaries are built and fortified. This is what the Jews were experiencing—a constant barrage of intimidation. But Nehemiah was having none of it.
But they were scheming to harm me; 3 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?” 4 Four times they sent me the same message, and each time I gave them the same answer.
Again, Nehemiah prayed:
9 They were all trying to frighten us, thinking, “Their hands will get too weak for the work, and it will not be completed.”
But I prayed, “Now strengthen my hands.”
Distractions, intimidations, and false prophets were all called out in full force from the surrounding enemies. I am just amazed at the fortitude with which Nehemiah pressed on. No one was going to deter him. His senses were fully attuned to anything not of God. Only a relationship of total dependence reaps that kind of life.
12 I realized that God had not sent him, but that he had prophesied against me because Tobiah and Sanballat had hired him. 13 He had been hired to intimidate me so that I would commit a sin by doing this, and then they would give me a bad name to discredit me.
14 Remember Tobiah and Sanballat, my God, because of what they have done; remember also the prophet Noadiah and how she and the rest of the prophets have been trying to intimidate me. 15 So the wall was completed on the twenty-fifth of Elul, in fifty-two days.
The wall is complete, the gates are in place, and Jerusalem is once again a protected city. It was an engineering feat beyond anything imaginable. No one in the area had any doubt Who was responsible for the completion of this project.
16 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.
Lord, I am so thankful to read of Nehemiah and his example of how he prayed. His faith and determination came from his constant conversation with you. I am not always like that and confess that I try to fight battles on my own without seeking your direction or protection. I want to intentionally draw you into every part of my life. Please help me to grow stronger in that area. In Jesus name, Amen.