In our study of Nehemiah chapter six, we look at two of the tactics that the enemy tried to use against the man of God. We will be inspired as we see that he stood strong in the face of the enemy because of his faith in God.
When word came to Sanballat, Tobiah, Geshen the Arab and the rest of our enemies that I had rebuilt the wall and not a gap was left in it - though up to that time I had not set the doors in the gates -
Nehemiah was a man of honesty and we see here that he comes up against rumors and lies. The enemies heard that the walls around Jerusalem were done but he says that, in fact, they were not as the gates did not have doors to keep people out. Lies and rumors are a favorite tactic of the devil as we know that he is the father of lies.
Sanballat and Geshem sent me this message: 'Come, let us meet together in one of the villages on the plain of Ono. But they were scheming to harm me;'
If you can't beat them then join them is the deception that is tried now. The enemy believes that the walls are done so they cannot defeat Israel. They try to make a phony peace deal but Nehemiah knew what they were up to. This reminds me of the same tactic used by the antichrist in Revelation 13 and it is even happening today with peace negotiations between Palestinians and the nation of Israel. We must remember that, without Jesus who is the Prince of Peace, it is not possible to have peace.
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?'
Nehemiah's reply to this fake peace was I am busy with God's work. As was the case here, many times the devil will try to disrupt the kingdom work with distractions. That is why it is so important for us to be focused on God and listening to His Spirit.
Four times they sent me the same message, and each time I gave them the same answer.
Wouldn't it be nice if the devil simply gave up? We remember that, throughout the Bible, the number four is associated with trials and testing. Nehemiah resisted the temptation to compromise four times by giving the same answer each time. We can take comfort in the fact that, no matter how many times Satan comes after us, he can be told no and to leave each time.
Then, the fifth time, Sanballat sent his aide to me with the same message, and in his hand was an unsealed letter in which was written: 'It is reported among the nations - and Geshem says it is true - that you and the Jews are plotting to revolt, and therefore you are building the wall. Moreover, according to these reports you are about to become their king and have even appointed prophets to make this proclamation about you in Jerusalem: "There is a king in Judah!" Now this report will get back to the king; so come, let us confer together.'
The enemy could not get Nehemiah to compromise so, on the fifth try, they used gossip and threats. Basically, they were saying that Nehemiah was going to be the king of Judah as they were going to rebel against King Artaxerxes. Sanballat basically said that he was going to pass on the lies unless he agreed to meet and compromise. The penalty for rebellion against the king would have been death so Nehemiah was really putting his life on the line here.
I sent him this reply: 'Nothing like what you are saying is happening; you are just making it up out of your head.'
Nehemiah recognized this attack for what it was and was not intimidated. His reply was basically I know you are a liar. Our reaction to the lies and tactics of Satan should be the same as we simply stand on the truth of God.
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.'
In the face of intimidation, Nehemiah prayed for strength from God. Prayer puts us in step with God's will and allows us access to His power. Because of that fact, we do not have to fear anyone or anything on this earth.
One day I went to the house of Shemaiah son of Delaiah, the son of Mehetabel, who was shut in at his home. He said, 'Let us meet in the house of God, inside the temple, and let us close the temple doors, because men are coming to kill you - by night they are coming to kill you.'
Nehemiah went to a friend's house and the friend suggested that he go and hide in the temple. The man was afraid for himself as he was "shut in at his home" and he also feared that they were going to kill Nehemiah. Nehemiah understood that fear of anything or anyone (except God) did not come from God and so he recognized it as the work of the devil. We, too, must recognize that fact and find our strength in Jesus Christ.
But I said, 'Should a man like me run away? Or should one like me go into the temple to save his life? I will not go!
Nehemiah refused to give in to the fear tactics of the devil. By faith, he stood on what God had told him and he trusted God to protect him as he did God's work. We can and should be just as solid in our trust of God as the God that we serve is the same now as He was back in these days.
I realized that God had not sent him, but that he had prophesied against me because Tobiah and Sanballat had hired him.
Nehemiah realized that what Shemaiah had said was not from God as he recognized the spirit of fear which is not of God. He knew that the man was hired and being used by the enemy. The same type of thing is common when you are walking with Christ as many times the devil will use others to attack you in hopes that you will not recognize his work. We, too, need to test the spirits just as John said (see 1 John 4).
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.
The devil's goals in this attack on Nehemiah was to stop the work of God and to discredit His servant. Nehemiah realized that it would be a sin for him to fear anyone or anything but God. He also understood that it would ruin his reputation and witness as a man of God. Satan has not changed his tactics so, if you are a faithful servant of God, you should expect the same kind of attack. When you face intimidation and fear, stand firm in the armor of God and remember that one of the names of God is El Hanne'eman (faithful).
Remember Tobiah and Sanballat, O my God, because of what they have done; remember also the prophetess Noadiah and the rest of the prophets who have been trying to intimidate me.
Nehemiah turns the people that have been attacking him over to God who is the avenger. A simple prayer for God to remember what they have done is all it takes when combined with strong faith. We, too, need to turn those who are persecuting us over to God and trust in Him to handle the situation.
So the wall was completed on the twenty-fifth of Elul, in fifty-two days.
Throughout the Bible, the number five is associated with grace and the number two is the number of witness. God is in charge of details and we see that the reconstruction of the wall in fifty-two days is a beautiful witness of God's grace.
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.
When God does a work, people notice and that even includes the enemies. The wall was not only rebuilt but it was done in a very short time under difficult situations. Even the enemy could see that God was in charge of the work and that scared them. We may be opposed, as ministers of the gospel, but the opposition is to God and not to us. It is His battle and when He shows up its over!
Also, in those days the nobles of Judah were sending many letters to Tobiah, and replies from Tobiah kept coming to them.
Now, we learn that God did this work even though their were people among His people that were working for the enemy. The nobles (which were probably the same ones that had been charging usury) were actually working with the enemy. They were focused on business and getting along for financial reasons. The same is true today as we see many that will compromise their faith for financial gain and even do the work of God's enemies for profit.
For many in Judah were under oath to him, since he was son-in-law to Shacaniah son of Arah, and his son Jehohanan had married the daughter of Meshullam son of Berekiah.
Tobiah had married well as he had married the daughter of the priest Shecaniah. Not only that but his son had also married a Levite woman. Because of this, many of the people were loyal to him and in fact worked behind the scenes for him against Nehemiah and God's work.
Moreover, they kept reporting to me his good deeds and then telling him what I said. And Tobiah sent letters to intimidate me.
These people had been trying to get Nehemiah to go along with what Tobiah said but had failed. When that failed, the devil had used Tobiah to try to intimidate Nehemiah but that too had failed. This is a reminder to us that the devil often uses people that are on the inside of the church to attack those that are doing the work of God.