The wall is finished and the gates are hung. The neighbors have failed to stop the work of the Lord. But there is still other work to be done.
It is amazing how fast the wall was repaired. Especially with all that the neighbors did to try and stop it. In less than two months, while carrying a sword at the same time as building material, the returnees completed the wall. That was some organization and dedication! Today we are lucky if we get a road repaired in less than a month.
The speed and skill was not only man’s doing. God gave His people what they needed each day. He gave them the talent. He gave them the strength. He gave them skilled leaders. He gave them protection from their enemies. He gave them the ability to discern plots hatched against them. He even gave them protection from their own nobles.
Instead of supporting the people who were rebuilding the wall, the nobles were writing letters back and forth with one of the biggest enemies. Tobiah was in league with Sanballat in trying to keep the walls from being rebuilt. When we were reading the list of who helped on the wall the Tekoites were explicitly mentioned as their nobles refusing to help. I would bet their nobles were some of the ones writing letters to Tobiah.
My bible helps can’t elaborate on the relationship between Tobiah and the nobles. All I can figure out is it was a political/family thing. And it was strong enough to stand up against national pride. These nobles cared more about what Tobiah thought about them than they did about what their brothers felt, or even God.
Tobiah and Sanballat did NOT want a strong Jewish community. They wanted to keep them weak and dependent. With the walls up they are seen as strong once again. Especially in the face of the adversity thrown at them while building. “If they can rebuild their walls with this speed and against all odds, what can’t they do? And what won’t their God do for them?”
There were other rulers though who stood behind Nehemiah and even put their own backs to the task. There are at least seven rulers listed in the rolls of who helped. I’m betting there were more for them than there were against them. And the GREATES one for them was God.
Something that surprised me is the statement in 7:4 where we are told that no houses had been rebuilt. In the list of builders six different builders or groups are said to have built by their houses. I’m assuming that they were building near where their house would one day be restored. Maybe no new houses had been built in the city. Where were the people living? The city is no less in size than it was in David’s day but it lacked a LOT of things.
Was the reason there was not a lot of people living in Jerusalem because they didn’t feel safe? The city had no defenses. Merchants apparently came to the city to sell their wares but did they live there too? We are told that some of the merchants helped rebuild the wall. The foot traffic was still there so the businesses wanted to stay. They needed the walls to keep them safe and their wares. And now they had it. I have a feeling that this was the beginning of real return for many of the Jews. NOW it felt like a home.
I wonder if any of the nobles who were trying to stop the process thought they were on God’s side. Did they think Nehemiah’s work was really for his own edification? Were they afraid that was testing them? Did they even think about what God’s will was in this issue? Did they seek the Lord or seek their own counsel? We know for certain that before Nehemiah came they were making quite a living off the backs of the poor. Nehemiah was putting a stop to that. Maybe that is why they were on Tobiah’s side.
When thinking about what to take from our story today, this popped into my head. When you KNOW that what you are doing is for the Lord, don’t let Satan stop you no matter who he tries to use. Be it rulers, prophets, or the neighbors ganging up on you, put your trust in the Lord and HE will work it out.
Father God, strengthen my discernment skills so I can clearly see the traps laid out for me. Thank You for uncovering many in my life already. I trust You to keep me walking Your paths. Even when the road gets rough, Yours is better than ANYTHING the enemy can come up with. Also I never know what benefits await later tasks because of completing the ones You direct me to. My going to college made it possible to care for my husband. I can’t imagine doing this job without the training first.