Nov 2, 2009, 1:22 PM
If Nehemiah had embarked on this project all on his own, without counting on God for strength to persevere up to the very end, his efforts would have been doomed to failure. Throughout this project, at different stages, Nehemiah prayed to God for guidance, help and direction. He became like a tool in God’s hands, to work his purpose out. When we decide to accomplish our goals without reference to God we are on our own. Until we find out from God what task he has assigned us, until we consult him, the outcome will be uncertain.
Nehemiah did not just jump on the idea and started working anyhow. First, he sat down and planned. He literally counted the cost. He organised and strategized on how the work would be achieved. Most of us embark on sound projects without studying all its facets. Halfway a problem emerges that we had given little significance to and everything comes tumbling down. Planning, backed by constant prayer, constituted the key to Nehemiah’s success. The prayer element opened doors for him. The king asked him: “What is it you want?”Nehemiah asked for letters of introduction to the local authorities in the land; letters of safe conduit as he crossed foreign borders, a letter to the king’s forest keeper so he could procure timber to fabricate the gates. He even had military escorts. “And because the gracious hand of my God was upon me, the king granted my requests.” (Nehemiah 2:8)
Every assignment that we undertake for God, be sure to face opposition from diverse angles – probably where you least expected them.Someone somewhere will be opposed to the idea and would do all his power to upset the cart - obviously for selfish reasons much of the time. Nehemiah’s rebuilding project was no exception. The likes of Sanballat and Tobiah “… were very much disturbed that someone had come to promote the welfare of the Israelites.”They did not share Nehemiah’s motives and were ready to stall the process.
In spite of the opposition, Nehemiah never relented. Three days after he arrived in Jerusalem he mounted an inspection tour of the walls alone, to assess the level of damage done. “By night I went out through the Valley Gate toward the Jackal Well and the Dung Gate, examining the walls of Jerusalem.” (Nehemiah 2:13) With such first-hand information, he gathered the officials and the workers and spoke to them in these terms: “You see the trouble we are in: Jerusalem lies in ruins, and its gates have been burned with fire. Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, and we will no longer be in disgrace.” (Nehemiah 3:17)
Nehemiah succeeded in mobilising the people for a noble cause. Those who did not buy into the vision however “… mocked and ridiculed us. ‘What is this you are doing?’They asked. ‘Are you rebelling against the king?’ ” (verse 19) They had begun raising dust but Nehemiah responded. “The God of heaven will give us success. We his servants will start rebuilding, but as for you, you have no share in Jerusalem or any claims or historic right to it.” (verse 20) Sanballat and Tobiah owed no allegiance to Jerusalem and could not share the motives that had led Nehemiah and his colleagues to rebuild at all cost.
Several teams were set up with returnees from exile and given different assignments. Security measures were also taken by way of self-defence. Amidst persistent mockery, in a short while signs that the work was progressing were evident. This angered the groups of “Arabs, Ammonites and the men of Ashdod” who were opposed to the rebuilding project. “They all plotted together to come and fight against Jerusalem and stir up trouble against it. But we prayed to our God and posted a guard day and night to meet this threat.” (Nehemiah 4:8-9) Nehemiah encouraged them: “Don’t be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, our sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes.” (verse 14b)
Determination led to an unswerving resolve to get to the finish line. On several occasions his enemies tried to distract him in a bid to eliminate him. “Come let us meet together in one of the villages on the plain of Ono.” At another time they sent him a letter accusing him of plotting revolt. On one particular occasion they sent word to him. “Let us meet in the house of the God, inside the temple, and let us close the temple doors, because men are coming to kill you - by night they are coming to kill you.” (Nehemiah 6:10) All these were ploys to kill him. But Nehemiah turned down all these requests and remained resolute.
The enemy is constantly at work to frustrate God’s plan for our lives. We need God beside us all the time. Be careful not to give in. In fifty-two days the wall had been erected. “When all our enemies heard about this, all the surrounding nations were afraid and lost their self-confidence, because they realised that this work had been done with the help of our God.” (Nehemiah 6:16)
One has to be a formidable force in order fight against God, Jehovah. Our individual plans cannot prevail against God’s plans for a nation or a people.For or against, the walls went up. Tobiah’s opposition was doused under the determination of the Children of Israel to restore dignity to their land.
Was anything wrong with the project? No! It was for a just and noble cause. Yet someone somewhere found good reason to oppose it. Anything we undertake to frustrate the work of God will not prosper. God is still in control.
God wants us to rebuild our broken walls starting with the family – the foundation of society, the pillar on which a community stands prior to becoming a nation. Cracks in the walls will sooner or later lead to its collapse, therefore we need to rebuild fast under God’s leadership.