Nehemiah 4:1-23


Verse 1-3, But it came to pass, that when Sanballat heard that we builded the wall, he was wroth, and took great indignation, and mocked the Jews. {2} And he spake before his brethren and the army of Samaria, and said, What do these feeble Jews? will they fortify themselves? will they sacrifice? will they make an end in a day? will they revive the stones out of the heaps of the rubbish which are burned? {3} Now Tobiah the Ammonite was by him, and he said, Even that which they build, if a fox go up, he shall even break down their stone wall.

I.    The talk continues.  (See 2:10,19)

A.  It must be noticed that Sanballat "hears" that the wall around Jerusalem is being built - he did not personally see it.

1.   He did not even go to Jerusalem to find out for himself.

2.   He did not talk to any of the Jews about what they were trying to do, but instead accepted what was said!

3.   Sometimes what is said by others is not what is really going on.

B.   It is also interesting to note that Sanballat and Tobiah are "blind leaders of the blind".

1.   They are false teachers scratching the itching ears of their hearers.

2.   They have found out what the people want to hear, and are proclaiming that news very vehemently, with much "conviction"!

C.   Notice also that somebody had to carry the news to Sanballat.

1.   Who this person or persons are, we do not know they are not followers of God.

2.   Isn't it true that most of the time, the bearers of sick, disturbing news is "they"?

3.   And nobody knows who "they" are, but everybody is very sure "they" know what they are talking about!

D.  We can't expect those outside of the Jewish nation to understand.

1.   These people are blind to the blessings of God.

2.   We can't expect those outside the protection of God's church to understand why they ought to be members of that organization.

3.   Their eyes are blinded to those particular blessings of God.

4.   We shouldn't necessarily look down on these people or deride them for their blindness.

5.   Jesus tells us to love them in spite of their ridicule, but don't let them stop us from obeying God.


II.   The reason they are against Jerusalem.

A.  Anytime God's children obey Him, Satan will send his servants to cause discouragement and defeat.

1.   This is true for us today.

2.   When God blesses our church, the people on the outside aren't thrilled at all.

3.   As a matter of fact, they will do all they can to ridicule us, calling us a bunch of fanatics or anything else derogatory.

B.   These people live in nearby towns and they, not understanding the desire of the Jews, either fear a takeover by them, or that they can't take over Jerusalem.

1.   A lot of lost people don't mind if God blesses a church a long way off.

2.   They just don't want God blessing a church in their neighborhood.

3.   This forces them to examine their own lives, and they just simply don't want to do that.

4.   They are not willing to see their own sinfulness, but they are willing to see sinfulness in the general population.

C.   Notice the steps Sanballat anger took.

1.   First, he was wroth: very hot in his anger.

2.   Second he had indignation: vexed, grieved.

3.   Third, he mocked: ridiculed, made fun of, deride.

4.   Matt. 12:35 - Their hearts are evil - A good man from a good heart bringeth forth good; and an evil man from an evil heart bringeth forth evil things.


III. Who listened.

A.  There will always be people who listen.

B.   His brethren - The Horonites lived near Mt. Seir.  This brought in the Arabians (through Tobiah), and the Ammonites, and the Ashdodites. (Verse 7)

C.   Verse 2 - The Army of Samaria.  This mixture of half-Jew, half-Gentiles was absolutely against the Jews, and the God of the Jews.


IV. What Sanballat said.

A.  Feeble Jews.

1.   He is certainly right, for the Jews are feeble and completely helpless without God.

2.   I Cor. 1:27-29 - He forgot God used small, weak things.

3.   II Cor. 12:10 - When I am weak, then am I strong.

4.   This lesson not only applies to the Jews, it also applies to us.

5.   God cannot use us when we rely on ourselves, but when we understand that we are only saved sinners, then we are in a position to be greatly used of God!

B.   Fortify themselves.

1.   The word "fortify" means: To loosen, to leave, to depart from.

2.   Sanballat is saying that the Jews will attempt to "loosen, to leave, or depart from" the control of the established government of that area.

3.   It's really amazing how lost people think.  They cannot believe anybody would do anything except for power, prestige, or money!

C.   Sacrifice.

1.   The word Sanballat uses for sacrifice means to kill, or slaughter in divine judgment!

2.   This is very amazing for we see from the use of this word that Sanballat and the other rebels have a mental understand of the worship of the Jews.

3.   They do not have a spiritual understanding of their worship.

4.   Therefore, we know that these rebels know the real purpose of rebuilding the walls although they would never confess it. (6:5-7).

5.   These rebels don't mind the Jews being their neighbors, but they don't want them practicing their religion next door.

6.   Isn't this like the world today?

7.   Another point to notice is that these rebels didn't mind accepting the tax money of the Jews, but they certainly don't want their tax money being used for the benefit of the Jews.

D.  End in a day.

1.   Sanballat understands that the work on the wall is proceeding very quickly, and takes that to mean that the Jews intend to finish very quickly.

2.   He is accusing the Jews of not knowing how big a job they had tackled.

3.   What he doesn't understand is how big a God the Jews have!

E.   Revive stones out of the heaps of rubbish which are burned.

1.   There are no new building materials, therefore, they will reuse the old stones.

2.   Revive means to grant life from a dead object.  Rubbish means dry earth, powder, ashes; debris.

3.   Actually Sanballat is saying that it is impossible to get life from a dead stone.

4.   It's apparent he doesn't know anything Elijah preaching to the dried bones!

5.   Or that God is the God of impossible things.

6.   All things are possible with God.


V.  What Tobiah said.

A.  Accused the Jews of building a weak stone wall.  He is not denying they can build a wall, but doesn't think it will last.

B.   Tobiah is saying more than that the wall will fall down quickly and easily.

1.   The word "break" means "to break, to frustrate, violate, make ineffectual".

2.   He is saying that the Jews will be quickly and easily discouraged from working on the wall.

3.   He uses the fox to get this point across.

4.   The nature of the fox is that he is very sly.

5.   The fox doesn't normally go around people, but sneaks into the "chicken house" when nobody is looking, gets a "chicken", then disappears when the "farmer" appears.

6.   Tobiah believes that at the first sign of trouble, the Jews work will be over.

7.   The "fox" will be Sanballat and Tobiah as they spread malicious rumors about the Jews and Nehemiah.

C.   A Bible study of the word "fox", (a creature of prey that is a symbol of destruction and wickedness).

1.   Judges 15:4 - Samson tied fire brands to the tails of foxes and turned them loose in the standing corn of the Philistines.

2.   Ps. 63:10 - Those that seek to destroy David shall be destroyed themselves and foxes shall eat their bodies.

3.   Solomon 2:15 - Foxes (little sins) destroy the testimony of "Christians".

4.   Lamentations 5:18 - Foxes walking on the mountains of Israel show their desolation by God.

5.   Ezekiel 13:4 - False prophets, who prophesy from their own heart and not from God's Word, are like wicked, destructive foxes.

6.   Matt. 8:20; Luke 9:58 - Foxes (who are deplorable creatures) have a home, but Jesus does not.

7.   Luke 13:32 - The Pharisees threaten Christ with death at the hand of Herod if He doesn't leave Israel.  Jesus called Herod a fox and declared that He would stay until his work was completed.


VI. Note the amount of thinking done by the enemies.

A.  Satan thinks, and causes his servants to think much about the task God has given His people to do.

1.   Don't ever think that your worshipping God goes unnoticed by Satan or his followers.

2.   It is no accident when a person tells you something about another saved person to hurt you.

a.   For example, a lady told Marie Lawson that Bridget was once again working in the day care center of the First Baptist Church of Wentzville.

b.   Did she tell Marie that to encourage her or to discourage her?

c.   Obviously to discourage her, for that woman doesn't want Bridget coming to our church.

d.   God uses this type of negative thinking to strengthen our faith in Him and encourage us to keep our hearts, minds, and eyes on Him, and not to expect the world to help or understand us.

3.   Someone might ask, "Is the person that told Marie about Bridget lost or saved?"

a.   That really doesn't make any difference.

b.   Satan can use lost people, and he can use saved people.

c.   Remember Lot in the Book of Genesis.

d.   Christ admonishes us to remember Lot's wife, lest our life be destroyed.

e.   Rev. 12:10 states that the accuser of our brethren, Satan, is cast out of heaven.

f.    When we, as saved people, accuse the brethren; we are doing the devil's work!

g.   Think of that the next time you say bad things about a brother or sister in Christ!


Verse 4-5, Hear, O our God; for we are despised: and turn their reproach upon their own head, and give them for a prey in the land of captivity: {5} And cover not their iniquity, and let not their sin be blotted out from before thee: for they have provoked thee to anger before the builders.

I.    The correct reaction to evil talking which is against us.

A.  No evil talk from us.

B.   Prayer.

1.   Didn't ask God to forgive them.

2.   Didn't ask God to cause them to stop.

C.   Was Nehemiah wrong to pray that they would receive the just recompense of their work? NO!


II.   Does Nehemiah's prayer go against the teaching of Christ (Matt. 5:43-48, pray for those which despitefully use you) and His actions (Luke 23:34, Father forgive them, they know not what they do)?

A.  Jesus prayed according to the will of God the Father.

1.   Acts 2:21,22 - It was predetermined that Jesus would come into the world for the specific purpose of dying on the cross for the salvation of sinners.

2.   What the people did to Jesus was predetermined, but it was not predetermined that particular men would do it.

3.   Therefore, when Jesus prayed that they be forgiven, He was praying according to the will of the Father.

4.   On the day of Pentecost, Jesus' prayer was answered when 3,000 souls were saved.

B.   Nehemiah prayed according to the will of God the Father.

1.   Genesis 12:2,3 - God told Abraham He would bless those that bless Israel, and curse those that curse Israel.  Nehemiah is doing what God said He would do!

2.   Ps. 79:12 - This whole Psalms concerns the just destruction of Israel by the Lord, and a prayer that God would return sevenfold destruction upon those nations that destroyed Israel.

3.   Ps. 69:22-28 - David's prayer that his persecutors will be severely punished by God.

a.   The remarkable thing about this scripture is that it is prophetic of the sufferings of Jesus Christ.

b.   When Christ suffered at the hand of wicked men, He didn't pray that God would destroy them, but rather prayed that God would forgive them!

c.   This doesn't mean that Jesus was wrong or that David was wrong.

d.   It means part of this Psalm refers to Christ and part refers to David.

C.   Other examples of praying that the wicked be judged.

1.   II Tim. 4:14,15 - Paul warning Timothy against Alexander.

2.   I Tim. 1:20 - Paul turned Hymenaeus and Alexander over to Satan that they might learn not to blaspheme.

3.   Sometimes "humility" is confused with "stupidity".

a.   God is going to judge according to the works of men regardless of our prayer.  We ought to pray according to the will of God.

b.   God doesn't expect us to be "walked on by the world".  We can never be a light when we are being "walked on".

c.   Sometimes it takes the judgment of God upon a person before they realize who they're fighting.

d.   Can we pray the kind of prayer Nehemiah prayed and not be angry at the enemy for personal reasons?  We ought to be able to.

D.  The conclusion is: both Nehemiah and Jesus prayed according to the will of God the Father.

1.   Their prayers are not the opposite, but are the same, even though different things are prayed for.

2.   The world believes it is always wrong for a person to pray that sinners would be judged, but they are wrong.

3.   They know they are sinners, and must be judged by God, but they certainly don't want anybody praying that they be judged.

4.   Do we pray that God would judge homosexuals, sex perverts, child abusers, murderers, rapists, etc;?

a.   We ought to pray that God would judge this wickedness.

b.   We certainly don't want to pray that God would bless this wickedness!

c.   We ought to hate their sin, but love the sinner.

d.   This is what Jesus did, and if we are going to be "Christians", we ought to be like Jesus.

e.   The world wants us to feel guilty because we hate sin, for they love sin, and want us to love that sin also.

f.    The world cannot tell the difference between sin and the sinner.

E.   One other thing is very important to add.

1.   Romans 12:19, "...Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord."

2.   We are wrong when we attempt to punish wicked sinners.

3.   That job belongs to Jesus Christ, not us.

4.   Therefore, we must keep a balance.

5.   We must always recognize sin and its consequence.

6.   We must pray that God will judge sin.

7.   We must never attempt to punish the sin or sinner ourselves.


III. Was Nehemiah's prayer answered?

A.  Nehemiah prayed for several things:

1.   Their reproach would be turned upon their own head.

2.   They would be given for a prey in Israel.

3.   Their iniquity would not be covered before God.

4.   That God would not forgive their sin.

B.   There is no Bible record of what happened to Sanballat or Geshem.

C.   The Bible record of Tobiah.

1.   He continued fighting Nehemiah and the Jews when they built the wall.

2.   Nehemiah 12:4-9 - Eliashib the priest prepared the store room in the temple for Tobiah's residence.

3.   Nehemiah had to cast him and his stuff out of the temple.

4.   This Bible record might indicate that Nehemiah's prayer concerning Tobiah wasn't answered.

a.   It might not have been answered in this life.

b.   At least not like Nehemiah wanted it to be answered.

c.   But we don't know the kind of condemnation Tobiah will have when he stands before God at the Great White Throne Judgment, and is finally cast into the Lake of Fire for eternal condemnation.

D.  Josephus records the reproach of Sanballat.

1.   See Josephus Antiquities of the Jews, Book XI, Chapter VIII, Page 243-245.

2.   Josephus records the influence of Sanballat in building the temple at Samaria.

3.   This has to do with priests who disqualified themselves from the priesthood because of erroneous marriages.

E.   The story of Sanballat.  Jaddua was the High Priest of Israel.  His brother, Manasseh had married Sanballat's daughter, Nicaso.  All Israel, and Jaddua, forced Manasseh from the altar of God, remembering this sin had caused prior captivities upon Israel.  Manasseh went to his father in law, Sanballat, who persuaded him that he would build another temple in Samaria, and establish Manasseh as High Priest in that place just as soon as he could get approval from Darius.  There were many priests who had taken strange wives, so Manasseh became a leader of these priests.  After a while, Darius came near Israel while on a battle journey against Alexander the Great.  Sanballat determined to speak to him about establishing another religion in Samaria, but Darius was defeated in the battle, and retreated back to Persia.  Sanballat then switched his support from Darius to Alexander (Alexander was winning, after all!), and approached Alexander about the matter.  He told Alexander that there were many priests who were in danger of being cast out of the priesthood because of marrying strange wives, and that Alexander could use this as a wedge to drive between the Jews, thus he could divide and conquer them.  Alexander agreed to Sanballat's plan, but Sanballat died before he saw the temple built.  Jaddua, the High Priest of Israel and brother of Manasseh, knew he was in trouble with Alexander, for Sanballat had gained his confidence.  After sacrificing to God with prayer and fasting, God informed Jaddua to dress in his High Priest garments, along with the other priests and go out of the city to meet Alexander when he came near the city.  This they did, and Alexander did something very strange.  He left all his army behind him, along with his body guards, and approached Jaddua.  The only man who would question Alexander was Parmenio, who was told that Alexander had a dream in which a man dressed like Jaddua had encouraged him by God's graces to bring his armies into Asia and overcome the entire area.  Instead of harming Israel, Alexander blessed them and allowed them the privilege of not paying tribute every seven years.

F.   I believe we can say that Nehemiah's prayer was answered.

1.   On the surface, it might look like God didn't answer Nehemiah's prayer because these men weren't instantly destroyed or "burnt with fire and brimstone".

2.   It is apparent that Tobiah and Sanballat lived a normal life span, but an early death doesn't necessarily mean God killed them, any more than a long life means God has blessed that person.

3.   Remember that Jezebel wasn't killed immediately when Elijah pronounced God's judgment upon her.

4.   God's judgment might grind slowly, but it grinds exceedingly small!

G.   The application of all this to our lives and prayers.

1.   There has probably been somebody that has done you very wrong.

2.   You might have prayed that God would judge their wickedness, but they weren't instantly destroyed in a puff of smoke.

3.   It just may be that they are still living, seemingly enjoying life and prosperity, and not undergoing any judgment of God at all.

4.   Just remember that you are not the first person this has happened to, because we have seen that it also happened to Nehemiah, a faithful servant of God.

5.   When God judges this world, He will cause every secret deed to be shouted from the housetops.

6.   His judgment in that day will be very severe, not only on those who have hurt us, but on us also!


Verse 6, So built we the wall; and all the wall was joined together unto the half thereof: for the people had a mind to work.

I.    Verse 6 - They build the wall and prayed.

A.  These are the conditions under which the wall was built.

1.   It was not an easy working conditions, but the work advanced.

2.   It is never easy to build a work for God, but God can make the work advance.

B.   Build half the wall.

1.   Evidently, this means that the wall is about half as high as it needs to be, or at least somewhere in that vicinity.

2.   The wall is joined together all the way around Jerusalem.

C.   This is a turning point in their labors.

1.   Up unto this point, all the opposition has been talk.

2.   From this point on, the opposition will not only be talk, it will also be physical.


II.   Because the people had a mind to work.

A.  That's the only way any work will progress.

1.   Many churches, civil organization, and individuals fail because they don't have a mind to work.

2.   They had rather sleep, or loaf, or do almost anything, but the job will never get done until work is accomplished.

3.   Two pastors (Brother Moser, Jr. and Brother Elton Wilson told me they needed some work to be done in their church, so they really encouraged, berated, and almost forced their 300 members to come help.  The same 10 or 20 always showed up to do the work.

B.   It must be stated that the reason most church members don't work is because the pastor hasn't done his job.

1.   Most pastors today encourage an "entertainment" attitude in their church by having all kinds of fun and games when they ought to be having worship.

a.   This is done to attract numbers - a "sign" of their successful pastorate.

b.   Many times this entertainment causes lost people to join the church because the enjoy the services, not because they are convicted of their sinfulness or because they love the Lord.

2.   Church members look to the pastor and the "leaders" of the church to come up with an ever increasing number and ever greater interesting projects to keep their "excitement" at a high level.  Their "excitement" concerning worship and doing God's will is very low if not non-existent.


III. Notice who Nehemiah gave the credit to.

A.  He didn't take the credit for himself, for he didn't do the physical labor; he supervised or administered the work.

1.   The people did the work.

2.   He gave the credit to those who did the work.

B.   It is error to say that Nehemiah didn't do any work, because the administration of a project is a great work.

1.   It is absolutely necessary for every organization, or project, to have a leader.

2.   The leader causes all the various parts of the organization to work together to accomplish the chosen objective.

C.   The truth is that a pastor is only as great as the church he pastors.

1.   If the pastor has a church that won't work, is constantly complaining, wanting their way, belittling each other and backbiting each other, that church won't make any progress for God.

2.   The pastor won't either.

D.  Many pastors want to do everything.

1.   This is error, just like it is error for the church members to want to do everything.

2.   It's wrong for the pastor to control the church, just like it is wrong for the church to control the pastor.

3.   God ought to control all of us!

4.   When God controls us, we will all work together and will accomplish great things for God, because God will make it fit together.

E.   There are people who think the project they are working on is theirs and they don't want anybody else intruding in their territory.

1.   This is error.

2.   Unless we are ashamed of what we are doing, or unless we are trying to cover us something, we ought to be glad others are interested in what we are doing.

3.   Others helping us ensures the perpetuity of the project.

4.   We are going to die someday, and if nobody knows what we are doing, then nobody will be there to continue the project after we are gone.


The following events hinder the building.


1.   Verse 7-9 - Sanballat and Tobiah, along with the Arabians, Ammonites and the Ashdodites conspire together to fight Jerusalem so the work will not be completed.

2.   Verse 10 - There was so much rubbish that the building of the wall was hindered.

3.   Verse 11-15 - It was rumored by the Jews that returned to their homes each day that their enemies would attack them and completely destroy them.

4.   Verse 16-23 - The work will now go much slower because half the workers will have to protect the other half while they work.

5.   Chapter 5:1-13 - The Jews were not able to work at their secular jobs because they were working on the wall, thus had borrowed money from other Jews to buy food.  The rich Jews were charging usury, thus discouraging the workers.  They could not continue working on the wall and pay usury.  They were thinking about stopping work on the wall, and going back to work so they could earn a living for their families.





Verse 7-8,  But it came to pass, that when Sanballat, and Tobiah, and the Arabians, and the Ammonites, and the Ashdodites, heard that the walls of Jerusalem were made up, and that the breaches began to be stopped, then they were very wroth, {8} And conspired all of them together to come and to fight against Jerusalem, and to hinder it. 

I.    Oftentimes, a project is stalled when it is about half finished.

A.  People have been working hard, and it seems time to take a break, but the people don't come back after the break.

1.   This wasn't the case at Jerusalem.

2.   The people were getting tired, and needed a break, but they didn't take one.

3.   The continued building the wall even in troubles and trials.

B.   Notice that the enemies "hear".

1.   There is no word about who tells them.

2.   They are keeping informed about the progress on the wall.

3.   Wicked people are always sure to keep themselves informed about the progress God's people are making.

4.   Satan is wandering about this world, seeking whom he may devour.

5.   He was doing that in Job's day and is still doing it today.


II.   The word "but" indicates a change from talking against the Jews to acting against the Jews.

A.  The enemies did nothing but talk until they saw that the Jews would be a success.

1.   You can be sure this is still true today.

2.   The people of the world will talk against the church of the Lord Jesus Christ, but when God's people really are making headway, then rebels will begin to act against Christians.

3.   It will also be noted that even other churches will begin to wonder what another church is doing wrong if God begins to bless them with additional numbers, offerings, and enthusiasm.

B.   Why were these people wroth?

1.   Wroth means to be full of: fury, rage, hostility, and anger.

2.   It really shouldn't make them any difference what the Jews were doing.

a.   But they were concerned, not necessarily with the Jews being prosperous, but with their losing their place of authority over the Jews.

b.   Actually, if the Jews were more prosperous, it would cause these people to be more prosperous, but sinners don't look at things that way.


III. Verse 7,8.

A.  Note the people now involved.

1.   Arabians - 2:19 - From Geshem.

2.   Ashdodites - The only addition to the enemy.

3.   Ammonites - 2:19 - The people of Tobiah.

4.   All of these people live south and east of Jerusalem.

B.   Verse 8 - All three of these nations, plus the Horonites (Sanballat's people) came to fight these "feeble" Jews. (See verse 2.)

1.   Who is really the most feeble?

2.   A coward never fights alone!

3.   Or maybe these people are deciding the Jews are not so feeble after all!


IV. There is another very important point to note right here.

A.  Satan never attacks us with small darts!

1.   He always uses large masses of loud, forceful people, who appeal to the desires of the flesh of the majority of the people.

2.   He knows he doesn't have the strength to cause any lasting harm, but his bluff sometimes makes us think he has.

3.   It takes a lot of faith to defeat Satan

B.   It just may be they know they are really fighting GOD!

1.   Zechariah 14:2 - All nations will be gathered against Israel and Jerusalem at the Battle of Armageddon.  Those many nations will not win because God will fight for Israel.

2.   Revelation 20:7-9 - All nations will be gathered against Israel and Jerusalem at the Battle of God and Magog.  Those many nations will not win because God will fight for Israel.

C.   The principle is: Satan always makes God's people think they are the only ones on their side; everybody else is against them.

1.   Remember Elijah, I Kings 20:14, requesting that God take his life because "...I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away."

2.   There were 7,000 in Israel who had not worshipped Baal, just as there are many more that worship God than we know about.

D.  Note: The common people are not recorded as saying anything.

1.   It's the leaders that have brought on this war.

2.   That's the way it usually is.


Verse 9, Nevertheless we made our prayer unto our God, and set a watch against them day and night, because of them.

I.    The reaction of the Jews.

A.  Nevertheless - they prayed - Prayer is always necessary before any action.

1.   There can be action before prayer, but there can't be proper action before proper prayer.

2.   It is always good to pray to God when there is trouble (or when there isn't trouble) of any kind.

B.   Set a watch.

1.   The Jews will fight if necessary, verse 14, but they will not go looking for a fight.

2.   We must also be willing to fight if necessary, but never go looking for a fight.

C.   It must be noted that the threat against the Jews is real.

1.   Josephus declares in Antiquities of the Jews, Book xi, chapter v, paragraph 8, page 236, that the above mentioned nations killed many of the Jews, and tried to kill Nehemiah.

2.   They also spread rumors, as if many other nations were getting ready to come against the Jews.

3.   The devil always makes things seem worse than they really are!


II.   Notice the balance between trust in God and action.

A.  We ought to trust God in all things, during all times.

B.   Just because we are trusting God doesn't mean we ought to sit down on the seat of do nothing and do nothing!  Notice the Jews didn't set the watch because they didn't trust God.  They set the watch because of them.

C.   It is important to have the proper balance today.

1.   The Bible teaches the doctrines of election, predestination, irresistible grace, and security of the believer.

2.   The Bible also teaches that the saved ought to preach the gospel, persuade men to be saved, and try to obey God.

3.   The two above statements are not contradictory.

4.   They only show God's responsibility and man's responsibility.

5.   We are responsible to pray to God, then do all He instructs in His Word.





Verse 10,  And Judah said, The strength of the bearers of burdens is decayed, and there is much rubbish; so that we are not able to build the wall.

I.    Problems increase when the job is 1/2 done.  Satan knows this is a good time to cause a work stoppage.

A.  "Said".

1.   4:10 - Judah (The tribe as a whole) said, "Too much rubbish".

2.   4:11 - Adversaries said, "surprise attack".

3.   4:12 - Jews said ten times "our enemies will attack us as we go and come to Jerusalem.

a.   Note: These Jews were probably those Jews that weren't working on the wall, although they could have been the Jews were traveling to Jerusalem each day, then back home again each night.

b.   If "they" were some of the Jews who were not working on the wall, God caused them to have enough care to warn their fellow Jews of the enemies plans.

c.   Eccl. 10:20 - A bird of the air shall carry the secret word.

B.   It is good they told Nehemiah what was going on.

1.   When Nehemiah knows what is happening, he can do something about it.

2.   One of the worse things a worker can do is to try to take care of things himself without letting his supervisor know what is happening.


II.   Notice where the problem was.

A.  There are at least two possible answers to what was happening.

1.   The work was progressing so rapidly the laborers didn't have time to clean up the work area.

a.   I believe this was the difficulty.

b.   The reasons are stated in part "C" below.

2.   There was so much rubbish in the work area, the laborers couldn't work.

a.   I do not believe this was the difficulty.

b.   If the difficulty was the abundance of rubbish which was already piled up around the wall, then how did the laborers do the work required for the first part of the wall?

B.   There was no lack of ability, willingness, or desire of the Jews to do their job.

C.   The problem lay with the bearers of burdens (laborers).

1.   As anybody knows who has worked on a construction job of any size - there is a lot of scrap material that accumulates.

2.   This material accumulates because the builders are building so quickly the laborers can't take the scrap material away.

3.   This is actually a good problem to have.

4.   There are some bosses I've had (and some people I've worked with) who believe that laborers are not important.

5.   That part of the job that involves cleaning up the work area so the rest of the people can properly perform their jobs, is extremely important!

6.   The solution is very simple - just divert some of the "brick layers" from their jobs to helping the laborers for a while until they get caught up.

7.   There is no mention in the Bible as to what Nehemiah did about this problem, so we can only speculate as to what Nehemiah did.



VERSE 11-15


Verse 11-15, And our adversaries said, They shall not know, neither see, till we come in the midst among them, and slay them, and cause the work to cease. {12} And it came to pass, that when the Jews which dwelt by them came, they said unto us ten times, From all places whence ye shall return unto us they will be upon you. {13} Therefore set I in the lower places behind the wall, and on the higher places, I even set the people after their families with their swords, their spears, and their bows. {14} And I looked, and rose up, and said unto the nobles, and to the rulers, and to the rest of the people, Be not ye afraid of them: remember the Lord, which is great and terrible, and fight for your brethren, your sons, and your daughters, your wives, and your houses. {15} And it came to pass, when our enemies heard that it was known unto us, and God had brought their counsel to nought, that we returned all of us to the wall, every one unto his work.

I.    There are two main problems presented in these verses.

A.  Verse 11 - The "surprise" attack the enemies plan against the Jews.

B.   Verse 12-15 - The rumored attack against Jerusalem which caused the work to cease.


II.   Verse 11 - The plan for a "surprise" attack.

A.  A surprise is supposed to be a secret, but this one certainly isn't.

B.   It is important to note that the enemies plan to stop the work regardless of whether the government wants it to continue or not.

1.   The enemies are not working with the government to stop the work.

2.   They know that won't work because the government has given its approval for the work.

3.   This same principle is true today.

a.   Wicked people would change laws if they could, but if they can't change laws, they will go ahead and commit their crimes.  They don't care if they break laws or not, just as long as they get to do what they want.

b.   Righteous people are very careful to keep the laws of the land because God instructed them to obey magistrates.

c.   Righteous people will try to change wicked laws so they can worship God as they obey the laws of the land.

d.   An example is abortion.  Wicked people will get an abortion whether or not it's legal.  They will try to change the law to make their wickedness legal.  Righteous people won't obey this very wicked law, but will try to change it so they can worship God as they obey the law.


III. Verse 12-15 - The rumored attack against Jerusalem which caused the work to cease.

A.  Verse 12 - The Jews that returned to their homes each day heard the rumor that their enemies would attack them and completely destroy them.

1.   The phrase "...From all places from which ye shall return unto us..." indicates that the enemies of the Jews will come from the towns the Jews live in, the towns surrounding Jerusalem.

2.   This news would have the effect of greatly discouraging the Jews from obeying God, if they have to go against the desires of their neighbors to do it.

3.   Satan uses this same principle today to discourage us. 

4.   Most "Christians" will not go against their neighbors, friends and family to serve God.

B.   Verse 13 - The work stopped as the people prepare to defend themselves.

1.   We must understand that there is a time to stop in our work for God!  But we must also remember than when we stop in our work for God, we are beginning to start another type of work for God!

2.   These two works will compliment each other, not stand in opposition to each other.

a.   Satan wanted the work to stop, but he didn't expect the people to prepare to fight.

b.   Satan wants the work of the Lord to stop today, and he threatens us with great and various threatenings.

3.   When we stop the work, let it be only to prepare to fight.

a.   Satan doesn't expect this.

b.   Let us put on the whole armor of God and stand against the wiles of Satan and stand for God and his doctrines.

c.   Remember the armor of God doesn't have any protection for the back.

d.   We are supposed to be facing our enemies, not exposing our back by running from them.

e.   Our back is our most vulnerable part because God didn't provide any armor for it.

C.   Whenever the work stops, it is time to stand.

1.   Eph. 6:13, "Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand."

2.   How to stand against the devil.

3.   James 4:7 - "Submit yourselves therefore to God.  Resist the devil, and he will flee from you."

a.   C. S. Lovett wrote a book telling people how to fight the devil.

b.   He said when the devil bothers you, to speak his name out loud, saying, "Satan, get behind me!"

c.   This is error.

d.   Jude 9, "Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil about th body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee."

e.   We must first submit ourselves to God, then resist the Devil, then he will flee from us.

D.  Low and high - defend themselves from all places.

1.   They are ready to defend themselves in all places the enemy would attack them.

2.   This is a very good tactical defense.

3.   The principle of defending ourselves against the wiles of Satan is to protect ourselves:

a.   In times of low spirits, and high spirits.

b.   In times of prosperity, and times of poverty.

c.   In times of blessings, and times of chastisement.

d.   At all times, good and bad.

E.   With families - people defend best that which they love the most.

1.   Were the people afraid as they waited behind the incomplete wall for their enemies to come so the battle would start?

2.   I really don't know, but I know I would be afraid if I was in their shoes.

3.   The point is:

a.   Was the wall important enough to die for?

b.   Is your religion important enough to die for?

c.   Will you and I stand for the truth of God's Holy Word, even if we are afraid?

d.   Will you and I stand for the truth of God's Holy Word, even if we have to die because we believe that truth?

F.   Verse 14 - Nehemiah encouraged the people to fight.

1.   We ought to believe in the Sovereignty of God, but we need to realize that God uses means.

2.   We must know we are fighting a battle for all we hold dear.

G.   Result.

1.   God, not the people, spoiled the plans of the enemies.

2.   All (that means they lost none) went back to work.

3.   When the enemies heard that the Jews knew of their "surprise" attack, they became discouraged, for they knew the Jews were ready to fight.

4.   It is good for us to be ready to fight for what we believe.

5.   Satan will appear as ready to fight, but when he realizes we will not give in to him, but are ready and willing to fight for what we believe, he will back away.

6.   He knows God is stronger than he is and will not fight us.

7.   I John 4: 4, "Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world."

8.   James 4:7, "Submit yourselves therefore to God.  Resist the devil and he will flee from you."



VERSE 16-23


Verse 16-23, And it came to pass from that time forth, that the half of my servants wrought in the work, and the other half of them held both the spears, the shields, and the bows, and the habergeons; and the rulers were behind all the house of Judah. {17} They which builded on the wall, and they that bare burdens, with those that laded, every one with one of his hands wrought in the work, and with the other hand held a weapon. {18} For the builders, every one had his sword girded by his side, and so builded. And he that sounded the trumpet was by me. {19} And I said unto the nobles, and to the rulers, and to the rest of the people, The work is great and large, and we are separated upon the wall, one far from another. {20} In what place therefore ye hear the sound of the trumpet, resort ye thither unto us: our God shall fight for us. {21} So we laboured in the work: and half of them held the spears from the rising of the morning till the stars appeared. {22} Likewise at the same time said I unto the people, Let every one with his servant lodge within Jerusalem, that in the night they may be a guard to us, and labour on the day. {23} So neither I, nor my brethren, nor my servants, nor the men of the guard which followed me, none of us put off our clothes, saving that every one put them off for washing.

I.    The work continues.

A.  Flexibility is very important.

1.   A people (church) that is able to change the way they operate (when necessary) will weather the worse storm, while an inflexible people (church) will break under the strain.

2.   Change for the sake of change doesn't necessarily help, but change for improvement is always good.

B.   Working together.

1.   One held the weapons and one worked.  Probably traded off at intervals.

2.   Work would now go half as fast as before, but it does go on.  The work will now go much slower because half the workers will have to protect the other half while they work.

3.   Trouble didn't separate people, but taught them how to work together.

4.   Every church ought to work together for God's glory.

C.   Fight together.

1.   When Nehemiah blows the trumpet, all would go to Nehemiah.

a.   There weren't enough people at any one place to fight the enemy.

b.   Therefore, Nehemiah instructed the people to gather together in one place so they could all fight.

c.   This would leave an unprotected place in the wall that the enemy could easily slip through, but there was nothing else that could be done.

d.   Nehemiah declares, "God shall fight for us."

e.   He has confidence in God, not in his battle plans, or in the fighting ability of the workers.

2.   He would be the leader to fight the enemy.

3.   People will cooperate and the enemy will be defeated.

4.   Every church ought to fight the Devil together for God's glory.

C.   Lodge together.

1.   People would stop going to their own homes every night.

2.   They would dwell together to protect one another.

3.   Churches need to learn to lodge together to better fight off the Devil.

4.   Many church members only see each other during church services.  This lets the Devil have an advantage.


II.   The Jews didn't seek out their enemies to destroy them.

A.  They only prepared to fight them if they came against them.  This is as it should be.

B.   We should pray that God will allow us to live quiet and peaceable lives, but be ready to fight so we can continue to do the work God has given us to do.


III. Verse 23

A.  Better than Hitler who said he wouldn't clean up until he won a battle.  That's why he died dirty!!

B.   Staying clean helped them to feel better about everything.

C.   Staying clean (without sin) helps us feel better about our Christian service.