June 7, 2004
Read Nehemiah 4 - 6
In Today's Reading:
Builders opposed and ridiculed; Nehemiah's prayer; weapons for the workers; evils corrected; plots of adversaries; walls completed
Nehemiah determined to rebuild the walls around Jerusalem, even though there was fierce opposition. He armed workers with their swords, their spears, and their bows (Nehemiah 4:13). He also encouraged them: Be not . . . afraid of them: remember the Lord, who is great and terrible (to be reverenced). . . . our God shall fight for us. He recorded: So we labored in the work: and half of them held the spears from the rising of the morning till the stars appeared (4:14,20-21; compare Exodus 14:13-14; Numbers 14:9). Working about 12 hours a day left little time for anything else. The Israelites' faith had been strengthened through the reading of God's Word.
Sanballat again attempted to stop their work, saying: Come, let us meet together in some one of the villages in the plain of Ono (Nehemiah 6:2), about 28 miles northwest of Jerusalem. Nehemiah replied: I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down: why should the work cease, while I leave it, and come down to you? (6:3).
After Sanballat made five attempts to meet with Nehemiah, he then accused him of rebelling against the king of Persia (6:5-7). When this failed, Sanballat hired a prophet to foretell Nehemiah's death.
Eleven times it is recorded that Nehemiah prayed (1:4-11; 2:4; 4:4-5,9; 5:19; 6:9,14; 13:14,22,29,31). He encouraged his workers, saying: The God of heaven . . . will prosper us (2:20). The people had a mind to work . . . So the wall was finished . . . in fifty and two days (4:6; 6:15)
Once we recognize that the battle is the LORD's (I Samuel 17:47), and God is the One who allows the opposition, we will not panic. Instead, we will seek to learn what the Lord expects of us in order to qualify to have our prayers answered. People of faith, though a minority, will always find a way to accomplish God's will. In serving the Lord, one great temptation is that many will find excuses to wait for a more convenient time rather than to put the Lord first and do their best with what they have. Jesus said: I must work the works of Him that sent Me, while it is day: the night comes, when no man can work (John 9:4).
By Nehemiah and other Jews who had bought back (redeemed) some Jews who had been sold to the heathen as slaves while in Persia (Nehemiah 5:8). When we were enslaved by sin, we were redeemed with the precious lifeblood of Jesus when we accepted Him as our Lord and Savior (Romans 7:14; I Peter 1:18-19; see also Leviticus 25:42).
4:7 breaches = gaps; 4:10 decayed = giving way; 4:20 resort ye thither = assemble there; 5:3 dearth = famine; 5:7 usury = interest; 5:10 exact of them = require; 6:8 feignest = made up the story.
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Prayer Suggestion: Be specific in your prayers (Luke 18:41-43).
Optional Reading: II Corinthians 9
Memory Verse for the Week: Romans 1:16