This week we will wrap up the story of Nehemiah and the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem. You will want to refer to chapters 6-13. During the past few weeks, as we have walked through the book of Nehemiah, we have watched one person who deeply loves the Lord make a huge difference. He has reached out to the Israelites in love and rekindled their hope and belief in God. Now, he is moments away from finishing an incredible feat –the rebuilding of the Jerusalem wall. Through it all, he has met tremendous opposition time and time again, all the while managing to rise to the occasion.
As we start chapter 6, Nehemiah, having settled an internal issue among the Jewish people, now faces a reemerging issue from his enemies:
Sanballat, Tobiah, Geshem the Arab, and the rest of our enemies found out that I had finished rebuilding the wall and that no gaps remained—though we had not yet set up the doors in the gates. So Sanballat and Geshem sent a message asking me to meet them at one of the villages in the plain of Ono. But I realized they were plotting to harm me, so I replied by sending this message to them: “I am engaged in a great work, so I can’t come. Why should I stop working to come and meet with you?” Nehemiah 6:1-3
As work on the wall neared completion, the attempts to discourage, intimidate, and sabotage the work intensified. This is so typical of the trials of life. At first, we may be slightly annoyed by things that seem to get in the way of our goals. Then we may be discouraged by the slowness of the trial. Toward the end of the trial, we may be overwhelmed as opposition rises to an intensity that dares us to continue at our own risk. When the enemy becomes desperate, he will throw everything at us.
Nehemiah’s enemies pursued him relentlessly and attempted to lure him outside of the city, where they planned to attack him. However, Nehemiah does not take the bait. So in their desperation, they turn to lies in an attempt to blackmail Nehemiah into negotiating with them. In the mist of their plotting, Nehemiah makes an important decision –he will stand his ground, again!
They were just trying to intimidate us, imagining that they could discourage us and stop the work. So I continued the work with even greater determination. Nehemiah 6:9
This is yet another example of how we must stand in our faith and believe in God regardless of what the devil, our enemies, or the world throws at us. Because of his willingness to obey God no matter the circumstances, we see Nehemiah succeed in his mission in record time.
So on October 2 the wall was finished—just fifty-two days after we had begun. When our enemies and the surrounding nations heard about it, they were frightened and humiliated. They realized this work had been done with the help of our God. Nehemiah 6:15-16
I applaud Nehemiah constantly crediting God with this magnificent accomplishment. There is no “I” in his statement. Everyday we need to take the time to realize what God has done in our life and give Him the glory for what we cannot accomplish on our own.
Upon completion of the wall, Nehemiah provides direction and guidance to the people. In chapters 7-12, we see that Nehemiah registers (or takes a census) of the people, he has the Law read out loud as a reminder of their responsibilities to God, and he leads the people in a confession of sin, which would help to restore Israel’s relationship with God. Lastly, we see the wall of Jerusalem dedicated and the celebration begins.
Many sacrifices were offered on that joyous day, for God had given the people cause for great joy. The women and children also participated in the celebration, and the joy of the people of Jerusalem could be heard far away. Nehemiah 12:43
Sounds like happily ever after, right? Not quite. See, the story doesn’t end there. Chapter 13 gives a brief overview of the events that unfolded after the wall was restored. A time in which it seems Nehemiah was absent from Jerusalem, although we don’t know for how long. We do know it was long enough for things to start unraveling once more as the people would again fall into sinned. Nehemiah once again attempts to restore order to prevent another Jewish downfall. However, the chapter abruptly ends with this one last thought from Nehemiah:
… Remember this in my favor, O my God. Nehemiah 13:31
In times when we are positioned for service, we must remember to carry out what God has laid on our hearts faithfully. We should not be caught off guard when others do not follow suit or return to former ways. If we are to bring about change, we must first reflect on the things in our own heart, pursue God passionately, and never allow someone else’s bad choices discourage us from doing what we know is right. God is BIG enough to handle the rest!
Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take. Proverbs 3:5-6
Today, be encouraged that when God places a dream in your heart, He will see it through. Learn to pursue what is within your control and to let go of what is not. God will not judge you based on the actions of others, but He will hold you responsible for yours.
Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.