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Memory verses for this week: Psa 32:10 Many sorrows shall be to the wicked: but he that trusteth in the LORD, mercy shall compass him about.

Introduction: We continue our study on the book of Nehemiah this week. In our prior lesson, we saw a great example of self sacrifice by Nehemiah. Not only did he refuse to levy a tax on the people as governor, but paid his own way as well as taking care of over 150 others as they rebuilt the wall around Jerusalem.

Overview of Nehemiah 6: Opposition to God’s work continued. Satan now sought to undermine from within as well as from without. Not only did the ‘psychological warfare’ continue from the enemies without, they also found willing sympathizers from within. Nevertheless, the work was accomplished because God’s hand was upon them.

I. Sanballat's Plot to Hinder Nehemiah

Neh 6:1 Now it came to pass, when Sanballat, and Tobiah, and Geshem the Arabian, and the rest of our enemies, heard that I had builded the wall, and that there was no breach left therein; (though at that time I had not set up the doors upon the gates;)
Neh 6:2 That Sanballat and Geshem sent unto me, saying, Come, let us meet together in some one of the villages in the plain of Ono. But they thought to do me mischief.

As the work proceeded, the enemies (Sanballat, Tobiah, Geshem, and others) continued to undermine the work. The breaches of the ruined wall had been closed though the gates had yet to be hung upon their hinges in the gateways.

These opponents changed their strategy. Rather than threaten and publicly oppose it, they decided to have a ‘peace conference.’ In effect they invited Nehemiah to come and enter into ‘dialogue’ with them. They in effect said, “Let’s negotiate.”

Nehemiah had nothing to negotiate. He had come to do a job and, by the grace of God, he intended to finish it! He quickly perceived, “they thought to do me mischief.” The word translated as mischief ( er ra) is the common Hebrew word for ‘evil.’

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, you can be sure if you intend to do a work for the Lord and you are very serious about it, there will be opposition. And sometimes the harder you try, the more roadblocks Satan tries to throw in your path. But when we look to God for our strength, Satan can not defeat us.

Mark 10:27 And Jesus looking upon them saith, With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible.

Neh 6:3 And I sent messengers unto them, saying, I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down: why should the work cease, whilst I leave it, and come down to you?
Neh 6:4 Yet they sent unto me four times after this sort; and I answered them after the same manner.

Nehemiah sent word, “I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down: why should the work cease whilst I leave it, and come down to you.” Insight into the character of Nehemiah is clear. He was a man of determination, singleness of purpose, and would not be intimidated or distracted.

He knew what God had called him to do and he kept on doing it. Nevertheless, the enemies did not give up. They sent word on four different occasions for Nehemiah to come negotiate. He would not! As I mentioned, the more serious you are, the greater the battle becomes. But Nehemiah was faced with opposition, he just kept a clear head and persevered on with the work at hand.

Neh 6:5 Then sent Sanballat his servant unto me in like manner the fifth time with an open letter in his hand;
Neh 6:6 Wherein was written, It is reported among the heathen, and Gashmu saith it, that thou and the Jews think to rebel: for which cause thou buildest the wall, that thou mayest be their king, according to these words.
Neh 6:7 And thou hast also appointed prophets to preach of thee at Jerusalem, saying, There is a king in Judah: and now shall it be reported to the king according to these words. Come now therefore, and let us take counsel together.

Sanballat modified his plan again, having failed thus far. He sent his servant under his own name with an open letter designed to intimidate Nehemiah. In the letter, he alleged that Nehemiah was planning to rebel against the king of Persia and that is why he was building the fortifications of the city. Moreover, Sanballat noted that “It is reported among the heathen and Gashmu saith it.” The Gashmu noted is another rendering of the name Geshem mentioned in verse 2.

Also the word translated as heathen { ywg goy or mywg goyim plural} is the more common word for ‘gentiles’ or ‘other nations.’) In other words, Sanballat wrote to Nehemiah and tried to further intimidate him with the idea how “everybody thinks this.” This is what ‘they’ are all saying. Moreover, ‘They’ all are saying he had appointed prophets to preach that Nehemiah was going to be the new king of Judah. Furthermore, he planed to report all of this to the king.

“Come now therefore, and let us take counsel together.” Sanballat tried to intimidate Nehemiah to negotiate. Though ‘everybody’ might have been saying it, Nehemiah knew the truth of the matter. Rumor, innuendo, gossip and ‘public opinion’ would not deter him.

Neh 6:8 Then I sent unto him, saying, There are no such things done as thou sayest, but thou feignest them out of thine own heart.
Neh 6:9 For they all made us afraid, saying, Their hands shall be weakened from the work, that it be not done. Now therefore, O God, strengthen my hands.

Nehemiah sent a simple reply back . “here are no such things done as thou sayest, but thou feignest them out of thine own heart.”

The truth of the matter was, Nehemiah had a personal friendship with the king of Persia and had come because of the good graces of the king. He had no intention to betray his benefactor.

In verse 9, the innuendo and intimidation tactics actually worked to the extent they frightened the loyal Jews.

Their intent was that “their hands shall be weakened from the work, that it be not done.”

It almost worked. However, Nehemiah turned to the one Resource which never fails. He sought help from God. He pled with obvious fervency, “O God, strengthen my hands.” The lesson remains to this day.

In Exodus, Moses knew who fought the battles for him. God was the one, and he looked for victory through the Lord.

Exo 15:2 The LORD is my strength and song, and he is become my salvation: he is my God, and I will prepare him an habitation; my father's God, and I will exalt him.
Exo 15:3 The LORD is a man of war: the LORD is his name.

Psa 33:10 The LORD bringeth the counsel of the heathen to nought: he maketh the devices of the people of none effect.
Psa 33:11 The counsel of the LORD standeth for ever, the thoughts of his heart to all generations.
Psa 33:12 Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD; and the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance.

Psa 33:16 There is no king saved by the multitude of an host: a mighty man is not delivered by much strength.
Psa 33:17 An horse is a vain thing for safety: neither shall he deliver any by his great strength.
Psa 33:18 Behold, the eye of the LORD is upon them that fear him, upon them that hope in his mercy;

II. False Prophets try to Frighten Nehemiah

Neh 6:10 Afterward I came unto the house of Shemaiah the son of Delaiah the son of Mehetabeel, who was shut up; and he said, Let us meet together in the house of God, within the temple, and let us shut the doors of the temple: for they will come to slay thee; yea, in the night will they come to slay thee.
Neh 6:11 And I said, Should such a man as I flee? and who is there, that, being as I am, would go into the temple to save his life? I will not go in.
Neh 6:12 And, lo, I perceived that God had not sent him; but that he pronounced this prophecy against me: for Tobiah and Sanballat had hired him.
Neh 6:13 Therefore was he hired, that I should be afraid, and do so, and sin, and that they might have matter for an evil report, that they might reproach me.
Neh 6:14 My God, think thou upon Tobiah and Sanballat according to these their works, and on the prophetess Noadiah, and the rest of the prophets, that would have put me in fear.

An even more insidious enemy began to come out of the woodwork. Some of the Jews, even those in high places, were found to be in sympathy with the enemy. Someone connected with the Temple, possibly a priest, tried to induce Nehemiah to seclude himself ‘for his own safety.’ He sought to get Nehemiah to ‘hide’ in the Temple and have meetings about the whole matter.

He intimated how Nehemiah’s life was at risk and that his opponents might come by night and seek his life. Nehemiah remained resolute. “Should such a man as I flee?” He realized that if he as leader absented himself, the work would grind to a halt. He refused to ‘hide’ in the Temple.

Nehemiah perceived this fellow was actually working for Tobiah and Sanballat who had hired him. The relentlessness of the enemies is so typical of the chief adversary who undoubtedly was motivating them. Satan never stops trying to oppose God’s work. When the devil is attacking, it is a pretty good indication one is doing what God would have him to do. Satan does not hinder those out of God’s will.

In verse 14, Nehemiah discerned how even an apparent priest had been enlisted by the enemy. Even more enemies from within were uncovered. A prophetess named Noadiah and other prophets were part of the conspiracy.

In the King James Study Bible, Jerry Falwell made these comments.

6:10–14. Shemaiah claimed to have a special revelation about a plot against Nehemiah’s life and suggested they meet in the temple, since it would provide the only place of refuge. This suggestion unmasked his evil intentions. Nehemiah knew that God could not have led him to break the Mosaic injunction against laymen entering the temple (Num. 1:51; 18:7). For Nehemiah to have done such a thing would have damaged his testimony.

III. The Wall Finished, Treachery of Some Among the Jews.

Neh 6:15 So the wall was finished in the twenty and fifth day of the month Elul, in fifty and two days.

Notwithstanding the endless opposition, “the wall was finished” in Elul (September) fifty-two days. Some have questioned if the figure of fifty-two days is accurate. God’s Word says it, therefore that settles it. From a human perspective, there were upwards of at least fifty-thousand motivated men working on the project who worked from sun-up to sun-down during the project. Furthermore, the original walls had not been totally destroyed. Mention is made several times of the ‘breaches’ in the wall.

The foundation was intact. The original stones were laying nearby. The Babylonians evidently had not totally destroyed the walls, but had broken various breaches into it thus rendering its military value useless. God’s blessing was upon the effort. The initial purpose of Nehemiah’s coming was complete.

Neh 6:16 And it came to pass, that when all our enemies heard thereof, and all the heathen that were about us saw these things, they were much cast down in their own eyes: for they perceived that this work was wrought of our God.
Neh 6:17 Moreover in those days the nobles of Judah sent many letters unto Tobiah, and the letters of Tobiah came unto them.
Neh 6:18 For there were many in Judah sworn unto him, because he was the son in law of Shechaniah the son of Arah; and his son Johanan had taken the daughter of Meshullam the son of Berechiah.
Neh 6:19 Also they reported his good deeds before me, and uttered my words to him. And Tobiah sent letters to put me in fear.

Further insight into the web of intrigue and conspiracy used by the enemies becomes evident. They were disheartened that their opposition to the work had failed. They grudgingly had to admit the success of the work was wrought of God. Verse 17 points out that many letters were written back and forth between disloyal Jews and Tobiah.

They, writing from within, kept Tobiah abreast of what was going on. It turns out that Tobiah and others had intermarried with Jews. He had become influential. He, through family and other connections, had sought to hinder God’s work. There is a clear example how intertwining between God’s people and the world winds up becoming major trouble for God’s work.

Ezra had dealt with it (Ezra 9-10). Nehemiah would later deal with the same problem.

Ezra 9:1 Now when these things were done, the princes came to me, saying, The people of Israel, and the priests, and the Levites, have not separated themselves from the people of the lands, doing according to their abominations, even of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Jebusites, the Ammonites, the Moabites, the Egyptians, and the Amorites.
Ezra 9:2 For they have taken of their daughters for themselves, and for their sons: so that the holy seed have mingled themselves with the people of those lands: yea, the hand of the princes and rulers hath been chief in this trespass.

Ezra 9:3 And when I heard this thing, I rent my garment and my mantle, and plucked off the hair of my head and of my beard, and sat down astonied.

Ezra 10:1 Now when Ezra had prayed, and when he had confessed, weeping and casting himself down before the house of God, there assembled unto him out of Israel a very great congregation of men and women and children: for the people wept very sore.
Ezra 10:2 And Shechaniah the son of Jehiel, one of the sons of Elam, answered and said unto Ezra, We have trespassed against our God, and have taken strange wives of the people of the land: yet now there is hope in Israel concerning this thing.
Ezra 10:3 Now therefore let us make a covenant with our God to put away all the wives, and such as are born of them, according to the counsel of my lord, and of those that tremble at the commandment of our God; and let it be done according to the law.

Separation therefore is a very practical benefit for God’s people.

J. Vernon McGee in his commentary said that Nehemiah's chief enemy, Tobiah, would not give up in trying to hurt Nehemiah. But God was with the man, and with God on our side, we are always in the majority and will win.

The enemy still persists in his opposition by circulating letters to the nobles of Judah. Tobiah had evidently married a daughter of one of the nobles! All of this time there was this playing “footsie” with the enemies of God. Tobiah had a “telephone” right into the walls of Jerusalem so that everything Nehemiah did or said was reported to Tobiah. Also, “they reported his good deeds before me.” That is, these kinfolk by marriage would come to Nehemiah and say, “Nehemiah, you are too hard on Tobiah! He is really a lovely gentleman.” Then they would begin to tell of his good works. “And uttered my words to him”—they were acting as liaison officers, which means they were a bunch of tattletales. Everything Nehemiah would say, and all that went on in Jerusalem, was reported to Tobiah. And “Tobiah sent letters to put me in fear.” Tobiah would respond with threatening letters.

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Prov 4:18 But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.

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