Introduction

So far we have covered 4 factors behinds the success of Nehemiah.

1st Factor : He realised his commission and he prayed to God to help him  (Part 1)
2nd Factor : He was able to seize the opportunity and he was well prepared.  (Part 1)
3rd Factor : Nehemiah visited the ground to gain a personal understanding (Part 2)
4th Factor : Nehemiah encourage the Jews To Work For The Lord (Part 2)
5th Factor : Nehemiah knew how to make everyone work together (Part 3)

Let us study the 6th factor behind his success.  As the 6th Factor is quite long, we would study them in 2 post

6th Factor : Nehemiah Knew How To Rely On God To Resolve His Problems

When Nehemiah came to Jerusalem, he faced both internal and external threats to his work. The book of Nehemiah Chapter 4 tells us of how his enemies attacked him. In general, his enemies took a 2 pronged approach to attack him, and today we will study the first of this approach. The chapter begin with the introduction to that first approach

“But it so happened, when
  Sanballat heard that we were
  rebuilding the wall, that he was
  furious and very indignant, and
  mocked the Jews.” – Nehemiah (Neh 4:1)

Both Sanballat and Tobiah mocked the Jews and their words are meant to attack the Jews. There are 3 objectives that they wanted to achieve by mocking the Jews. Let us look closer into their words

1st Attack : To Make The Jews Lose Confidence In Themselves

“What are these feeble Jews doing?
  Will they fortify themselves?”- Sanballat (Neh 4:2)

These words are meant to make the Jews lose confidence in themselves. For the wall of Jerusalem was destroyed and the city was burnt with fire. This words are meant to make them faint hearted as well as to lose their will to continue the work. For they did not have the faith and courage to rebuild these walls initially. They found courage and strength after the return of Nehemiah. When they heard his encouragement it gave them strength to rebuild the wall. But the enemies wanted to attack their confidence by their mockery.

In another words, their comments will sound like this, “ Do you think you can protect yourself? If you are fortifying to protect yourself, your work will be in vain. For if you could indeed defend yourself, why was the walls destroyed in the first place? There will not be a need to rebuild this city.” 

Their mockery is meant to make the Jews doubt their strength to complete the work. For History had proven that they were unable to defend themselves as well as the city. That will mean that there is no need to waste time rebuilding this wall.

If the Jews were to accept their mockery, they will admit to their own helplessness. If they accept those comments,  they will never have the will to finish the wall and to continue working.

Likewise today as we are trying to rebuild the kingdom of God we will face mocking from others challenging us. “You claim you want to rebuild the apostolic church and you claim that this church will spread throughout the world. But what have you accomplished so far? Your success is miserable compared to others”

Indeed if we consider the weakness within the church and if we were to Google for comments against against Christianity, we will find a lot of mocking and jeering from many individuals. Indeed the church is full of weakness but we do not not rely on the strength of man to finish this work. We are relying on the Spirit of God. Even though we see our weakness but we know we have a God who is behind us. We believe that he will help us finish the work.

For the work is not started by us, it is the will of God and it is the Holy Spirit that moves man to work. God had promise his people just as he once spoke through Prophet Zechariah

During that time, the Jews were facing great difficulties in rebuilding  the temple. The Angel of the Lord pleaded with the Lord to have mercy on Jerusalem.  He pleaded saying

O Lord of hosts, how long
  will You not have mercy on Jerusalem
  and on the cities of Judah, against which
  You were angry these seventy years?” – Angel Of The Lord (Zech 1:12)

God answered with good and comforting words. in verse 13. The Angel instructed Zechariah to make 3 proclamation.

“I am zealous for Jerusalem
  And for Zion with great zeal.”-YHWH (Zech 1:14)

This is important as the zeal of God is different from the zeal of man. While mans zeal is limited and could be put out by mocking, jeering and a wet blanket. The zeal of God is continually burning and can never be quench. In that zeal the Lord proclaim

”I am returning to Jerusalem with mercy;
  My house shall be built in it,
  And a surveyor’s line shall be
  stretched out over Jerusalem”
  My cities shall again spread out through prosperity;
  The Lord will again comfort Zion,
  And will again choose Jerusalem.” – YHWH (Zech 1:16,18)

This tells us that the work of rebuilding Jerusalem is the work of God and he will see to it that it will be completed.  Our faith needs to be built on these promises of God. We cannot deny the weakness seen within the church, but we need to see the promises of God.

We need to see the abidance of the Holy Spirit and we need to be assured that his work will eventually be completed.

Today we read of this same message therefore let us not be discouraged by the mockery of others. Let us not give up for we have heard the promises of God and the abidance of the Holy Spirit. It will become our hope and comfort.

2nd Attack : To Make The Jews Lose Faith In God
“Will they offer sacrifices? Will they
  complete it in a day? Will they revive
  the stones from the heaps of rubbish
  —stones that are burned?”- Sanballat (Neh 4:2)

These words are made to make the Jews lose faith in God. Indirectly they meant

“Do you think by relying on God you can rebuild the wall in 1 day? Do you think you can fix the stones that are already burnt? If God had helped you, your walls would be still standing this very day. Even if you were to sacrifice to God he will not help you, he will not defend this wall. It is meaningless to sacrifice to him and rely on him. For History have proven that the Lord did not help you. Look at this wall? Isn’t it a testimony of God ignoring you?”

If the Jews were to listen to this and look at the fallen wall. They will begin to feel hurt and indignant in their heart. They will question why God allowed this to happen and they may even murmur against God saying “If God is with us, why are the enemies mocking us like this?”

The same thing happened during the period of the judges. Then the Israelites were oppressed by the Midianites and God sent An Angel to meet Gideon  at the threshing floor. The Angel greeted him and he said  ““The Lord is with you, you mighty man of valor!”

But how did Gideon respond to that greeting?
“O my lord, if the Lord is with us,
  why then has all this happened
  to us? And where are all His
   miracles which our fathers told
  us about, saying, ‘Did not the
  Lord bring us up from Egypt?’
  But now the Lord has forsaken
  us and delivered us into the hands
  of the Midianites.”- Gideon (Judg 6:13)

Gideon did not thank God for allowing him to see an Angel. But he  questioned God’s power. He claimed that God had forsaken them and have delivered them to the Midianites. Indeed that was the time when the faith of Gideon as well as the faith of Israel are at  their low. That is why Gideon was unmoved even when God appeared before him.

Indeed the words of the enemies can make one lose faith in God. This is true especially when they see many misfortune and failure before them. They will ask “Why wont God work with us? Why wont God help us?”

This type of attack is worthy of our note and we need to understand how to handle such attack.

3rd Attack : To Make The Jews Lose Faith In Their Effort

“Whatever they build, if even a fox
  goes up on it, he will break down
  their stone wall.”- Tobiah (Neh 4:3)

These are the words of Tobiah and it is meant to make them lose faith and confidence in the work they do. Indirectly he is saying “Why are you putting in so much effort to rebuild it? You are wasting your time, your work will not withstand the test of time even a fox can topple this wall.”

The enemies wanted the Jews to think that their work is futile and they have laboured in vain. If one is unable to see the value of the work he is doing, he will not want to do it. He will not continue to pay the price and sacrifice to complete the work.

We all remembered how Elijah fled and pleaded with God for death. He had met a setback which makes him give up all hope in life.  He had just perform 2 miracles. His prayer allowed rain to fall on the land of Israel. He had lead Israel to slaughter the false prophet of Baal and Asherah. These are all work of great value and it had its great effect in reviving the faith of Israel.

But he had this misconception about the value and the effect of his work. He was thinking to himself. “Even though I did all these but what is the use? Jezebel wanted to kill me, and not a single man stood up for me.No one spoke against Jezebel or wanted to stop her from killing me”

As the result he fled on his own, and he felt that his work is pointless. So what if he had prayed for rain and so what if he had killed the false prophets. This is why he felt that he is useless.

“It is enough! Now, Lord,
  take my life, for I am no
  better than my fathers!”- Elijah (1 King 19:4)

When one is unable to recognise the fruit and the value of his work, he will not put in effort to work anymore. He will instead ask God to take away his life. The enemies of the Jews are aware of their weakness. that is why they used their words to strike down the confidence of the Jews.

they choose to attack and strike their confidence in all areas. be it in themselves, in God or the work they do.

Today as we read this story let us not neglect the effect of such mocking and jeering. For we know of many good and zealous Christian losing their zeal when they encounter such mocking and jeering. They ended up discourage and they gave up on their work,

Understanding Nehemiah’s Response

How did Nehemiah respond to these mocking and jeering from Sanballat and Tobiah?

So we built the wall, and the entire
  wall was joined together up to
  half its height, for the people had
  a mind to work.” – Nehemiah  (Neh 4:6)

Nehemiah did not allow their mockery to anger him nor does he contend with them and fight them. For doing so will make the situation worst and hinder the work that he is trying to complete. He choose not to be discouraged or to stop his work because of their jeering. Instead he took all their words and presented them before the Lord.

“Hear, O our God, for we are
  despised; turn their reproach
  on their own heads,”-Nehemiah (Neh 4:4) 

He told God of their mockery and jeering. This is something we do as human beings at times too. For we would often share our troubles with our friends and receive strength and encouragement from them. Indeed friends ought to stand by each other and support each other in times of need. But many a times our friends were unable to help, for they too have their problem to face, their pain to bear.

Therefore we need to remember to bring our problems before God but as we do so we must not stop working. For many after entrusting the matter to God just adopted a wait and see attitude to see if God will do anything to help them.

So when they do not see any response from God, they become disappointed, but Nehemiah is different  He did not just pray and wait to see if God will help him, he does not sit passively waiting for God to take action. After his prayer he continue to lead and mobilised the co-workers to focus on the work of building the wall. As the result the work continued and the wall was half its height.  For everyone focus on their work and not allow the jeering to affect them.

If they were to stop work and wait for God to act, then the work will be paused and they will have given the enemies what they want. Even though they may think “I am not stopping work, I am just waiting for the Lord.” But if they stop working they would have fallen into the trap of their enemies.

Their enemies can continue to say “Continue to wait, lets see if your God would punish us”

But Nehemiah did not fall for their trap , he just prayed and entrust the matter to God. Even though he is not sure how God will help them or when he will do it.  But since he had already prayed to God regarding it, they only need to continue working.

This is something we ought to learn as we face jeering and mocking as we serve God. We do not need to accept their bullying or suppress our emotion when being attacked. But if we allow their words to affect us and to depress us we would have fallen into the enemies trap and that is what they want.

So why must we allow ourselves to be trapped by them? Why must we allow their words to press heavily upon us?”

Was Nehemiah A Vengeful man In His Prayer?

We understand that there is no need to take revenge on our enemies but we need to tell them to God. We need to entrust the problem to God and to continue working. As we work, we wait on the Lord for deliverance. But yet Nehemiah’s prayer will have appeared hostile to us who are reading it.

“turn their reproach
  on their own heads,
  and give  them as
  plunder to a land of
  captivity! “- Nehemiah (Neh 4:4)

Do we think that it was a vengeful remark? Aren’t the children of God not to take revenge on their own? Why did Nehemiah use such vengeful words in his prayer?

Let us understand that Nehemiah is not the aggressor but a defender. For even as Sanballat and Tobiah continue in their mocking he did not challenge them or take revenge against them physically. He was praying to God to judge them with his righteous judgement.

This is similar to us receiving a parcel that we do not like to receive. Therefore we return the parcel back to the sender, for we refuse to keep what they have given to us. It was the enemies who started to slander and jeer the Jews as they worked. Nehemiah is merely returning what they have said back to them.

“Do not cover their iniquity,
  and do   not let their sin be
  blotted out from before You; for
  they have provoked  You to
  anger before the builders.” -Nehemiah (Neh 4:5)

Some would view this prayer as judgemental and it is a clear indication of Nehemiah’s unforgiving nature. Is that how a child of God ought to behave? Where is his forgiveness?

Let us understand the content of his prayer fully. He is not praying from the perspective of man but he is speaking on the side of God. For these people did not just insult and humiliate the Jews. they have attacked God. that is what Nehemiah meant by  “for   they have provoked  You to  anger before the builders”

These men were destroying the work of God and the Holy City. Nehemiah is merely judging them base on the fact that they have went against the will of God.  This prayer reminds us that we need to be watchful whenever we pray. We need to understand the boundaries that we ought to keep. Let us not speak out of anger but pray in accordance to Gods righteousness.

If we are just thinking from the perspective of man than we ought to let go and forgive. For it is a mere conflict between human. But if we were to look at the matter from Gods perspective, they are disrupting his work and going against his will. It is even worst as they are trying to destroy the temple of God. The children of God must never allow them to attack the Holy City and the temple of God

Indeed if these man are just making personal attack on us, we can forgive and let it go, we ought to forgive and not condemn them. For there will come a time we ill make a mistake and we desire the forgiveness of others. That is why we need to seize every opportunity to forgive others, so that we will be forgiven too.

But this is a different situation in Nehemiah’s case, for he saw them attacking the work of God. He is judging them base on the perspective of God. He is not saying those words because these men had humiliated and attacked him. But because they have went against God in their action.

That is why God is pleased with his prayer and is willing to work with him. This is something we must see whenever we read the story of Nehemiah.

Conclusion So Far

Today we only learnt half of the 6th factor behind Nehemiah success. We shared earlier that his enemies attacked him from 2 angles. Today we look deeply on one of the aspect of the attack which is their jeering and mockery to the Jews.

We have covered the 3 direction of their mockery, how they wanted the Jews to lose confidence in themselves, their work and in God.

We studied how Nehemiah responded to their attack. He did not attack and take revenge physically, instead he brought their words before God and he wanted God to judge them for the words they speak. After he entrust the matter to God, he did not stop working. He continue to lead the children of Israel to complete the work and the wall was completed to half its height.

We have also studied deeper into the prayer of Nehemiah to see if his action is done out of a vengeful spirit.  We understand that he is praying to God not because they have insulted and humiliated him, but rather he saw their attack as obstructing the will of God and going against God.

He is merely returning  their attack back to them by asking God to judge them for their sins. And their sin is not about them attacking and mocking Nehemiah personally, but it is about them going against the will of God and insulting God.

Let us remember this lesson especially today as we try to serve God and rebuild the church of God. For we will likewise face constant jeering and mockery within and outside of church. We need to realise the value of our work and be willing to continue to work with God to complete it.

We need to trust that it is God’s will to rebuild his church and he will finish the work . We need to continue to serve him and not allow the mockery and jeering of others to affect us.

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