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Enemies foiled
Bible Passage Nehemiah 6: 1- 19
This content is part of a series Bright Morning Reflections, in topic 2024 & book Nehemiah.

Enemies foiled

  • Rev. Bright Mawuena Nfodzo
Date preached March 8, 2024

1 When Sanballat, Tobiah, Geshem the Arab, and the rest of our enemies heard that I had completed the wall and that no break remained in it (even though by that time I hadn’t yet installed the doors in the gates),

2 Sanballat and Geshem sent word to me, saying “Come, let’s meet together at Kephirim on the Ono Plain.” But they were just trying to do me harm.

3 So I sent messengers to them, replying “I am involved in a great endeavor, so I can’t leave. Why should the work stop while I leave it to come down to you?”

4 They sent me this message four times, and I answered them the same way.

5 Then Sanballat sent his assistant to me the fifth time. But this time the letter was sent unsealed, and

6 in it was written: It is reported among the nations—and Gashmu confirms this—that you and the Jews are planning a revolt, and that you’re rebuilding the wall in order to declare yourself king. According to these reports,

7 you also have appointed prophets to proclaim about you in Jerusalem, “There is a king in Judah!” Since these words are being reported to the king, come and let’s meet together.

8 I sent word back to him, “Nothing has happened as you’ve claimed. You’re making up these charges in your imagination.”

9 For they all were trying to make us afraid by saying, “Their hands will become tired from laboring, so the work won’t be completed.” “Therefore, LORD, strengthen my hands!”

10 Later I visited Delaiah’s son Shemaiah, a grandson of Mehetabel, who was confined at home. He kept urging me, “Let’s meet together at the house of God, within the Temple, and take refuge there, because they’re coming to kill you. In fact, they’re coming at night to kill you!”

11 But I asked him, “Should a man like me run? Should someone like me run into the Temple to save his life? I won’t go there!”

12 I perceived that God had not sent him. Instead, Tobiah and Sanballat had hired him to pronounce this prophecy against me.

13 He had been hired to make me afraid so I would sin by doing what he suggested. Then they could create a slanderous report to use against me.

14 “Remember me, my God, and take note of what Tobiah and Sanballat are doing. Also take note of the prophetess Noadiah and the rest of the prophets who intend to make me afraid.”

15 So the wall was completed on the twenty-fifth day of Elul in 52 days.

16 When all of our enemies—including the surrounding nations—heard this, they became very discouraged, since they saw that the work had been done by our God.

17 Meanwhile, at that time the nobles of Judah continued to send many letters to Tobiah, and Tobiah kept sending letters to them.

18 For many Judeans had sworn allegiance to him, since he was son-in-law to Arah’s son Shecaniah, and his son Jehohanan had married the daughter of Berechiah’s son Meshullam.

19 Furthermore, they kept reporting Tobiah’s good deeds to me, and kept repeating what I told him. Tobiah kept sending letters to intimidate me.

Nehemiah had solved the problem that caused the poor people to complain. The people had built the wall, but they had not finished the gates. But the enemies of the people did not give up. They still tried to stop the work. Sanballat, Tobiah, and Geshem were enemies of the rebuilding work, and Nehemiah’s leadership would not give in. But Nehemiah was fortified by prayer and total reliance on God. With the wall nearing completion, the enemies saw that their only hope lay in getting rid of Nehemiah himself. They tried to draw him out into the country where they could murder him, but Nehemiah was aware of their tricks (verses 1-4).

Sanballat and his friends sent messages to Nehemiah. They invited him to meet them. They pretended that they wanted to make peace with the Jews. But Nehemiah knew that it was essential to finish the work on the gates of the city. So Nehemiah told his enemies that he was too busy to meet them. They sent the same message 4 times and he gave them the same answer.

They then spread rumours through an open letter that Nehemiah was planning a revolt against Persia, but their efforts came to nothing (verses 5-9). Sanballat did not want this letter to be secret. He wanted all the people to know what he had written. Of course, Nehemiah knew that Sanballat’s words were lies. Nehemiah had no such plans. He knew that Sanballat was trying to frighten the people and to stop the work. Again Nehemiah prayed and he asked God to make him strong.

The enemies thought of yet another plan. They tried to make Nehemiah act in a way that would ruin his reputation for fearlessness before opponents and reverence for the temple. One day Nehemiah went to visit Shemaiah. Shemaiah may have been a priest (Ezra 2:60; Nehemiah 10:8 ) and/or a prophet (see verses 12 and 14). We do not know why Nehemiah visited him. Perhaps Nehemiah wanted Shemaiah to pray with him or give him a message from God. Shemaiah did pretend that he had a message from God. But in fact, this message came from Nehemiah’s enemies and not from God.

Nehemiah realized that Shemaiah had received money from Tobiah and Sanballat to give him bad advice to take refuge in the house of God. They would either meet him there and kill him, and once he leaves the workers would leave too, truncating the wall project. They wanted Nehemiah to disobey God’s commands. Then they would be able to accuse Nehemiah. The prophets should have supported God’s work but instead, like Balaam (Numbers chapter 22), they accepted money to oppose God’s work.

Even the spies and traitors whom the enemies had planted in Jerusalem were unable to stop Nehemiah from completing the wall (verses 15-19). Although their enemies tried to stop the work, the people built the walls of Jerusalem in just 52 days. The people had worked very hard.

🔷 Once our intentions are clear and God approved, no evil agenda of the enemy can destroy us

🔷 Oppression and persecution will never end once you continue to do good

🔷 There are so many self-styled false prophets that we must be wary of. Their messages may sound sweet but are traps to distract.

🔷 We need to be constant with prayer in all our situations

💥 Pray that you will not be distracted by any scheme of the enemy
💥 Ask God to fortify you to complete His work

The devil always opposes God’s work and the devil often finds human beings as messengers to oppose God’s people and His work. But can human beings fight God?


In series Bright Morning Reflections