1 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.
4 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.
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.
7 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.
9 Nevertheless we made our prayer unto our God, and set a watch against them day and night, because of them.
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.
11 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.
16 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.
1 And there was a great cry of the people and of their wives against their brethren the Jews.
2 For there were that said, We, our sons, and our daughters, are many: therefore we take up corn for them, that we may eat, and live.
3 Some also there were that said, We have mortgaged our lands, vineyards, and houses, that we might buy corn, because of the dearth.
4 There were also that said, We have borrowed money for the king’s tribute, and that upon our lands and vineyards.
5 Yet now our flesh is as the flesh of our brethren, our children as their children: and, lo, we bring into bondage our sons and our daughters to be servants, and some of our daughters are brought unto bondage already: neither is it in our power to redeem them; for other men have our lands and vineyards.
6 And I was very angry when I heard their cry and these words.
7 Then I consulted with myself, and I rebuked the nobles, and the rulers, and said unto them, Ye exact usury, every one of his brother. And I set a great assembly against them.
8 And I said unto them, We after our ability have redeemed our brethren the Jews, which were sold unto the heathen; and will ye even sell your brethren? or shall they be sold unto us? Then held they their peace, and found nothing to answer.
9 Also I said, It is not good that ye do: ought ye not to walk in the fear of our God because of the reproach of the heathen our enemies?
10 I likewise, and my brethren, and my servants, might exact of them money and corn: I pray you, let us leave off this usury.
11 Restore, I pray you, to them, even this day, their lands, their vineyards, their oliveyards, and their houses, also the hundredth part of the money, and of the corn, the wine, and the oil, that ye exact of them.
12 Then said they, We will restore them, and will require nothing of them; so will we do as thou sayest. Then I called the priests, and took an oath of them, that they should do according to this promise.
13 Also I shook my lap, and said, So God shake out every man from his house, and from his labour, that performeth not this promise, even thus be he shaken out, and emptied. And all the congregation said, Amen, and praised the Lord. And the people did according to this promise.
14 Moreover from the time that I was appointed to be their governor in the land of Judah, from the twentieth year even unto the two and thirtieth year of Artaxerxes the king, that is, twelve years, I and my brethren have not eaten the bread of the governor.
15 But the former governors that had been before me were chargeable unto the people, and had taken of them bread and wine, beside forty shekels of silver; yea, even their servants bare rule over the people: but so did not I, because of the fear of God.
16 Yea, also I continued in the work of this wall, neither bought we any land: and all my servants were gathered thither unto the work.
17 Moreover there were at my table an hundred and fifty of the Jews and rulers, beside those that came unto us from among the heathen that are about us.
18 Now that which was prepared for me daily was one ox and six choice sheep; also fowls were prepared for me, and once in ten days store of all sorts of wine: yet for all this required not I the bread of the governor, because the bondage was heavy upon this people.
19 Think upon me, my God, for good, according to all that I have done for this people.
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;)
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.
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?
4 Yet they sent unto me four times after this sort; and I answered them after the same manner.
5 Then sent Sanballat his servant unto me in like manner the fifth time with an open letter in his hand;
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
15 So the wall was finished in the twenty and fifth day of the month Elul, in fifty and two days.
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.
17 Moreover in those days the nobles of Judah sent many letters unto Tobiah, and the letters of Tobiah came unto them.
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.
19 Also they reported his good deeds before me, and uttered my words to him. And Tobiah sent letters to put me in fear.
Responding to Satan’s Tactics
By Kathy Johnson
Nehemiah 4-6 tells us about Satan trying to stop the work of God. His mission is exactly the same today. Let’s look at the tactics he uses and learn from Nehemiah’s responses.
- Mocking, Insults, Ridicule-You’ve probably been subjected to mockery. “You believe in creation!” “What makes you qualified to be used of God?” Mockery and ridicule is often used as a tool to discourage the work of God.
Response: Nehemiah met the challenge of their mockery with prayer. Critics often miss what God is doing because they are focused on the wrong things.
- Intimidation and Surprise Attacks- Satan wants us to feel defeated, discouraged, or focused on the wrong things. The enemy didn’t attack. They just talked about it. They hoped the threat of attack would be enough. If we are paralyzed by a threat it has worked.
Response: Nehemiah depended on God to fight the battle. God gave him a work to do and he would not be distracted from it. The kingdom of God is built with a sword to come against spiritual wickedness in high places and a trowel to do the work of building the kingdom. Attacks from the adversary are successful only if they come as a surprise because we have let down our guard.
- Discouragement- There are always people with words of discouragement for anything you try to do for God. There’s always someone to pour cold water on your ideas. And many times people allow discouragement to keep them from obeying God.
Response: Nehemiah didn’t debate, he didn’t even deal with the two enemies directly. Instead, he took it to God in prayer as a first resort.
Challenges from inside-In chapter 5 problems arose from within. If Satan can’t defeat you from without, he will begin to strike from within. He strikes by division and conflict within the body.
- Injustice: It was discouraging to the people because of the high interest and the wealthy class were taking advantage over the poor class. Making themselves richer and oppressing the poor.
Response: Nehemiah said “I pray you, let us leave off this usury. Restore, I pray you, to them, even this day, their lands, their vineyards, their oliveyards, and their houses, also the hundredth part of the money, and of the corn, the wine, and the oil, that ye exact of them.” In other words, be just and fair to others.
- Failing strength-So much remains to be done but fatigue comes from what has been done.
Response: They continued to work day and night. It isn’t enough to begin well; we must finish well.
- Doubt- Before they could build the walls up they had to tear down and remove the debris. There will always be those who say “This is the way we have always done things”, no matter how useless it is.
Response: They removed the rubbish to build on a solid foundation.
- Timing-The attacks we suffer from spiritual forces of darkness are strategically timed. Our spiritual enemies know when we are discouraged, tired, angry, or proud in self-confidence.
Response: Be vigilant, watch, and pray.
- Create confusion- Confused people will never move forward or fulfill God’s work. They are distracted by the enemies’ tricks instead of focusing on God and His promises.
Response: They responded by prayer and watching. You need to set a watch.
- Harassment- When the enemy saw that the work was progressing, they began sneak attacks.
Response: Nehemiah answered with prayer, vigilance and wise action. It’s important to take the correct actions in addition to prayer. “We offered our prayer unto our God and we set our watch day and night.” Nehemiah commanded them to bring out their armor. It was time to get serious, to put on the full armor. The challenge was great but there was no reason for fear. Fear can motivate us to wrong movement. Satan tries to use fear so often because fear is an enemy of faith. Fear always ensues when we forget the Lord. The Lord is with you. The Lord will give you strength. You don’t need to fear. God put the counsel of their enemies to nought.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of death, I will fear no evil: for Thou art with me. Psalm 23:4
I will never leave you or forsake you. Hebrews 13:5
- Lies and Blackmail- The enemy wants to take us away from our work for God.
Response: Nehemiah refused to leave the work. He simply said, “There’s no truth to it.” and dismissed it. He allowed God to be his defense against the lies that were being spread. It’s important for us to learn to allow God to be our defense. You can get yourself so involved in trying to defend yourself from all of the attacks and all of the things that are being said that your whole life is just trying to go around and straighten out all the stories that are being told. We teach the Word of God and the truth is always the greatest threat to a lie.