(Recommended reading: Nehemiah 1:1 – 6:16 – References are from NIV)
Nehemiah is one of my favorite books in the Old Testament. In it are so many great examples of what we can do with the power of our Lord behind us, when we obey His directions.
When Nehemiah found out the condition of Jerusalem and of the Jewish remnant left there it says that he was so distraught that he wept – he mourned, fasted and prayed. (Chapter 1:4) His prayer is so wonderful and powerful (Chapter 1:5-7.) “’…O Lord, God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and obey his commands, let your ear be attentive and your eyes open to hear the prayer your servant is praying before you day and night for your servants, the people of Israel. I confess the sins we Israelites, including myself and my father’s house, have committed against you. We have acted very wickedly toward you. We have not obeyed the commands, decrees and laws you gave your servant Moses.’”
As a very trusted servant in the home of the king, Nehemiah found favor with him. Consequently, the king allowed him to go to Jerusalem in order to rebuild it. He even sent some of his military men along with him for protection as well as an edict for the needed timber he would need. (Chapter 2:1-10)
After arriving, he spent time carefully inspecting the wall. He finally then told the Jewish people that were still there in the city what God had laid on his heart – and that was to rebuild the wall and the city. (Chapter 2:11-18)
When the leaders of some of the nearby kingdoms heard about what Nehemiah and the Jewish people were doing, they began to taunt them. (Chapter 2:19) They apparently thought that if the Jews became strong again that it would weaken them and their kingdoms. So they set out to do everything they could to discourage them. They ridiculed them and called them feeble. But Nehemiah and the people were not bothered by it. They just committed it to God in prayer and continued building. (Chapter 4:1-3)
The project was very well organized with each family responsible for repairing the wall at their home site. They were so dedicated that they worked from dawn to dusk. (Chapter 3:1-32)
As they continued to make rapid progress, they discovered their enemies were angry and planning to attack them. So they took the necessary steps to protect themselves (working with one hand while holding a weapon in the other) and apparently it was enough to discourage and prevent any attacks. (Chapter 4:7-23)
Soon their enemies heard about how the wall was almost complete so they came up with other plans to try to thwart them. First they tried to trick Nehemiah into a meeting with them so that they could kill him – or at least kidnap him. But he knew what they were up to and refused the meeting – four different times! (Chapter 6:1-4)
Next they tried to spread a false rumor about how Nehemiah’s plans were to rebel against the king that had sent him to do the work so that he could then make himself king. Nehemiah simply rebuked that theory, ignored them and prayed for strength. (Chapter 6:5-9)
But they were not going to give up that easily. They hired a prophet that lived in Jerusalem and had him falsely prophesy how Nehemiah was to go into the holy place in the temple. But that was an unlawful thing to do and Nehemiah was wise enough to recognize it and refused. (Chapter 6:10-13)
Even with all of this persistent resistance from their enemies, Nehemiah and the Jewish people stayed true to the mission and actually completed all the work in just 52 days! When the news spread to the other kingdoms, their enemies finally were fearful enough to leave them alone because they knew the work had been accomplished with the help of God. (Chapter 6:15-16)
I believe this story is a testament of how we should approach our lives in general; but, especially if we are called by God to a special ministry or project. We should:
#1 – Ignore the naysayers that try to taunt and ridicule in order to see us get discouraged and give up our mission.
#2 – Keep the faith by relying on God and His help. (The Jewish people regularly prayed and spoke words of faith and encouragement.)
#3 – Go forward, even while armed for protection against potential attacks the Jewish people did not give up their work. (The way they had to arm themselves, while trying to accomplish their jobs, seems very awkward.)
#4 – Experience success as the Jewish people did with the help of God.
In other words, just Keep on Keepin’ On!
Written by Karran Martin
January 22, 2019