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Nehemiah Chapter Four, Prayer And Action

In our study of Nehemiah chapter four, we look at the opposition that they faced as the people rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem. We will see that Nehemiah was a man of prayer and action which is a wonderful pattern for us to follow.

Nehemiah 4:1

When Sanballat heard that we were rebuilding the wall, he became angry and was greatly incensed. He ridiculed the Jews,

When their enemies heard that they were rebuilding the walls, they became angry and wanted to stop them. The first method they used was to try to discourage the people by making fun of them.

Nehemiah 4:2

and in the presence of his associates and the army of Samaria, he said, 'What are those feeble Jews doing? Will they restore their wall? Will they offer sacrifices? Will they finish in a day? Can they bring the stones back to life from these heaps of rubble - burned as they are?'

Sanballat was mocking the people and trying to make them think that the job was too big and they were not qualified. He is trying to get them to question God's will for them and His Word. Sanballat was being used by the devil and the same tactic was used to get Eve to question God's words in the garden (see Genesis 3).

Nehemiah 4:3

Tobiah the Ammonite, who was at his side, said, 'What they are building - if even a fox climbed up on it, he would break down their wall of stones!'

Now, Tobiah gets involved and tries to get the people to feel like they are not up to the task. A fox is one of the most light footed of animals and weighs very little. He says that even if this small, careful animal crawled up on the wall it would fall down so there is no chance of it keeping out their enemies.

Nehemiah 4:4 & 5

Hear us, O our God, for we are despised. Turn their insults back on their own heads. Give them over as plunder in a land of captivity. 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.

In the face of this opposition, Nehemiah turns to the Lord in prayer. He prayed for justice under the law as he brought the charges to God and asked for a remedy.

Nehemiah 4:6

So we rebuilt the wall till all of it reached half its height, for the people worked with all their heart.

We see here that, after prayer, Nehemiah did not just sit around waiting for a miracle. God could have miraculously taken care of the situation but instead he had given the people work to do. This verse can serve to remind us that we are to be people of prayer but we are also to do what God has told us (God had already told them to rebuild the wall).

Nehemiah 4:7

But when Sanballat, Tobiah, the Arabs, the Ammonites and the men of Ashdod heard that the repairs to Jerusalem's walls had gone ahead and that the gaps were being closed, they were very angry.

The opposition grows as more people oppose the work of God. The same is true today as the more work that you are doing for the kingdom of God the more you will be attacked and opposed for it. This opposition will get more and more angry as they find that their battle is with God and not us and they have no chance of winning that battle.

Nehemiah 4:8 & 9

They all plotted together to come and fight against Jerusalem and stir up trouble against it. But we prayed to our God and posted a guard day and night to meet this threat.

So the enemies joined together to plan a joint attack. Nehemiah and the people prayed to God but also took action. There are those that use prayer as an excuse for doing nothing but, as we see here, God wants us to be men and women of action as well as prayer.

Nehemiah 4:10

Meanwhile, the people in Judah said, 'The strength of the laborers is giving out, and there is so much rubble that we cannot rebuild the wall.'

The mocking and threats affected the people and they became discouraged. They began to believe what the enemies were saying about them instead of what God says about them. When we get discouraged, we need to stop and remember that we are a part of God's royal family and it doesn't matter what our enemies say.

Nehemiah 4:11

Also our enemies said, 'Before they know it or see us, we will be right there among them and will kill them and put an end to the work.'

The enemy was planning a surprise attack to kill the builders and stop God's work. As we see here, the main goal was for them to stop the work. That is why we must expect to be attacked more when we are actively working for the Lord. The purpose of the opposition is to get us to stop the building of the Kingdom of God.

Nehemiah 4:12

Then the Jews who lived near them came and told us ten times over, 'Wherever you turn, they will attack us.'

The Jews that lived near the enemies listened to their words and began to doubt God. They went to the rest of the people to warn them but ended up spreading doubt. That is the same type of thing that Satan tries today as he will try to hurt Christians and ministries by using those that are closest to bring doubt and disobedience.

Nehemiah 4:13 & 14

Therefore I stationed some of the people behind the lowest points of the wall at the exposed places, posting them by families, with their swords, spears and bows. 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 brothers, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes.'

Nehemiah stations guards to protect the city but he does so by family. He then encouraged them by telling them to remember that the Lord was on their side. By stationing them by family, they were willing to fight harder to protect their own.

Nehemiah 4:15

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 his own work.

There was a threat, Nehemiah and the people prayed and took action and God delivered them. Imagine what the enemies were thinking when they found out that God had taken care of them. God takes care of His own; He did in this time and He does so today!

Nehemiah 4:16-18a

From that day on, half of my men did the work, while the other half were equipped with spears, shields, bows and armor. The officers posted themselves behind all the people of Judah who were building the wall. Those who carried materials did their work with one hand and held a weapon in the other, and each of the builders wore his sword at his side as he worked.

The people continued to rebuild as they defended themselves. Those who were doing the actual construction did so with their weapons ready. This is a picture of how we are to be today as Christians. We are to work but also to be prepared to share the good news of Jesus Christ as we do so.

Nehemiah 4:18b-20

But the man who sounded the trumpet stayed with me. Then I said to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people, 'The work is extensive and spread out, and we are widely separated from each other along the wall. Whenever you hear the sound of the trumpet, join us there. Our God will fight for us!'

Nehemiah followed the biblical pattern of the trumpet. In Numbers chapter ten, God told Moses to build silver trumpets to communicate with His people. One of the functions of the trumpets was that, in time of war, an alarm was to be blown and God's people would be remembered and saved from their enemies. The pattern will continue as John told us in Revelation 8 where God calls His people to Him and then the trumpets bring judgments on those that remain.

Nehemiah 4:21

So we continued the work with half the men holding spears, from the first light of dawn till the stars came out.

We see from this verse that the people worked as long as there was light each day. They felt the urgency to do the work that was set before them by God. As Christians, we need to have that same type of urgency as we are living in the last days.

Nehemiah 4:22

At that time I also said to the people, 'Have every man and his helper stay inside Jerusalem at night, so they can serve us as guards by night and workmen by day.'

The people were called to serve both day and night as they were to be guards at night and to repair the wall during the day. This is a good example for us today as we see that our service to God is a constant thing because we love Jesus. There are many who want Jesus when it is convenient but then want to do their own thing at other times. When we come to Christ, it is a 24/7 every day thing and He may have us working day and night to build the kingdom. It is what the apostle Paul did in Thessalonica as we see in 1 Thessalonians 2:9.

Nehemiah 4:23

Neither I nor my brothers nor my men nor the guards with me took off our clothes; each had his weapon, even when he went for water.

Not only Nehemiah served day and night but all of the people did. They were constantly prepared for battle. It is easy for us today to say that the pastor, reverend, or whatever you want to call them should serve 24/7 because it's their job. The simple fact is that it is the responsibility of all Christians to answer the call whenever it comes.

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