Nehemiah 4 Commentary
Two themes run through this chapter: the opposition mounted by Sanballat and Nehemiah’s reaction to the opposition.
The enemy is never tactless. First, we have a vicious verbal attack packaged in ridicule and discouragement. Sanballat diminishes the work and scorns Israel’s effort. Who has despised days of small beginnings? The words of the prophet Zechariah were still fresh in the minds of the people. And so the work progressed undeterred.
Second, and having failed with the first punch, Sanballat scales up the attack. He plans to physically attack, kill, and bring the work to a standstill. The battle is real. The opponent is real. It is the work of the LORD in the saint’s life that is at stake here. It must be stopped by any means necessary.
Notice how Nehemiah reacts to the first attack. Prayer is first; then comes courage. He must have remembered the word of the LORD to Joshua: “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1 verse 9.
And his reaction to the second attack is again typical of Nehemiah: prayer first and then action. This is so beautiful! There is no substitute.
No one reads the Book of Nehemiah without picking up gold here and there. Firstly, it really should be simple: the enemy will always attack the work of the LORD in the saint. That said, but strangely, who isn’t surprised and shocked by enemy attacks on what they think should be flowing unchallenged? Each installment of grace has its own attack – appropriately packaged for the purpose.
Secondly, and like Nehemiah, saints shouldn’t stop the work in order to attend to the distractions thrown at them. By stopping, even momentarily, the enemy is winning the battle. Many saints may think like it’s their lives are at stake. No. Don’t stop the work in order to protect your life because it’s not your life the enemy is after. The enemy is after the work of the LORD. Protect your life in order not to stop the work, not by stopping the work.
Here are a couple of Nehemiah gold nuggets. Do both. Work and fight, at the same time. Don’t drop your weapon. In times of attack, let not the saints be separated. Stay together. Maintain small spaces in between, too small for the enemy to fit in.
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 as workers by day.”
Multitask. Sunday school teachers should be called evangelists or pastors. They are exactly that to the children they minister to. But the church must first begin by identifying the problem and let the Sunday school teachers double this function.
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