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When Sanballat and Tobiah and the rest of God’s enemies heard that the walls were now ONE wall — with no more gaps in it, they could not stand it!
But they had already tried to stop the work on the wall by making fun of the people and threatening to attack and break the wall. Now that the wall was taller and stronger with no gaps, and now that the enemies saw that God’s People were willing to fight as One to defend those walls, the enemies tried to think of a different plan.
So they thought to themselves, “We aren’t big and strong enough to hurt the wall anymore, so instead, let’s go after Nehemiah. If we can distract, discourage, or dishearten him, then the work will stop.”
So they started this new plan with a distracting message to Nehemiah saying, “Let’s set up a time to meet together and talk.”
But Nehemiah wasn’t falling for that trick. He knew those guys were planning and plotting bad stuff.
So he sent messengers to them saying, “Why should the work stop while I come talk to you? I have no time for that. You can’t say anything I need to hear. You don’t have anything I want, and you can’t take away anything I need.”
They messaged him four times that way, but every time, Nehemiah wisely answered the same way: “No! No time for that. I told you! You don’t have anything I want, and you can’t take away anything I need.”
I guess those enemies finally figured out that their little trick wasn’t going to work. So, the fifth time they tried something even worse. Sanballat sent a messenger with an open letter in his hand. An open letter means that the messenger and anyone else could see what the letter said. And the letter was full of lies!
The letter said:
“All the other nations are saying that you and the people are planning to fight against the king of Persia. That is why you are building the wall. And someone very important confirms they know this to be true.
“And that’s not all, we’ve heard that you, Nehemiah, are planning to announce yourself as the king of Judah. We just thought you should know that the king of Persia is going to hear about these things. So you’d better come talk to us about this.”
But Nehemiah didn’t fall for any of those tricks. He sent word back to Sanballat: “That’s not true. You just made all that up in your head.”
Nehemiah knew those enemies were thinking, “The workers will become afraid and discouraged and then their hands will grow tired from the work, and God’s Work will stop.” So Nehemiah prayed, “God, strengthen my hands!” And he went back to work, work, working — twice as hard.
First distracting talk, talk, talk, and then lies and threats. Next, Sanballat and Tobiah tried to make Nehemiah afraid. They hired a man to tell Nehemiah that people were coming to kill him, and told him he should hide himself away in the Temple.
But Nehemiah replied, “Should a man like me run away and hide? No! I will not do it!”
Did you notice what happened? Once the enemies knew that the wall was too tall and strong to tear down, all they had left to try was to tear down the character of the person God sent to lead. They figured if they could create just a little bit of doubt, just a little question in the people’s minds, then those working on the wall might give up. Satan, and God’s enemies, still do this today. They try to use talk, talk, talk (that does nothing but waste time or confuse), or they make up lies about people (like “open letters” on the internet that are not true), or they threaten to harm you or those you love (trying to make you hide). Don’t fall for it.
Once again, Nehemiah had not fallen for their tricks — not their pretend niceness, or nasty lies, or scary threats. Nothing could distract him or stop him from firmly doing the one thing that mattered — Building and protecting God’s City, His House, His Children.
Later on, Nehemiah had to go back to Persia for awhile. But when he came back to God’s City, he found out that one of the priests was letting the still-yucky Tobiah live in a room in the Temple! What do you think Nehemiah thought about that? Do you think Nehemiah DID something about that? Of course he did. He marched right into Tobiah’s room, took out all of his stuff and threw it out into the street!! Yup. True Story. That’s what happened.
Let’s learn from Nehemiah and say, “As for my enemies, they don’t have anything I want, and can’t take away anything I need.”
We don’t listen to enemies. We don’t run from enemies. We don’t talk to enemies. We don’t visit with enemies. We don’t hide from enemies. And we don’t let enemies camp out in God’s House! NO. WAY.