Today’s Readings: Nehemiah 6 & Matthew 12:1-37
You have to admire the resilience of Nehemiah and his faithfulness in staying true to the task he’d been called to, continuing to rely on God irrespective of what was thrown up against him. As the chapters have unfolded, we read of a man who, because of his relationship with God, has made wise decisions in leading the people in re-building the wall.
When others plan to discredit or distract, so much time and energy can be taken up defending the situation, but Nehemiah remained consistent in his response; ‘…. and each time I gave them the same answer.’ Vs 4
But then the accusations become a personal attack on Nehemiah ‘… you and the Jews are plotting to revolt, and therefore you are building the wall. Moreover according to these reports you are about to become their king and have even appointed prophets to make this proclamation about you in Jerusalem.’ Vs 6b – 7b
So how do your react? Deflect the arrows and just keep praying.
Nehemiah is able to remain true to his own character, even if there was a proposed threat on his life by realising the suggestion was so unacceptable it could not be of God. ‘Should a man like me run away? Or should one like me go into the temple to save his life? I will not go!’ Vs 11
And then, for such a great achievement, there is such a humble statement.
‘So the wall was completed on the twenty-fifth of Elel, in fifty-two days.’ Vs 15
It would be so easy to just keep reading, but given the situation and the circumstances, this is AMAZING! Only God … should be the natural response.
What is affronting though is the different reaction of those who lived behind the wall to those who lived outside the wall. The reaction of their enemies and 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.’ Vs 16
In contract, as the chapter closes, the behaviour of the nobles of Judah and their relationship with Tobiah the Ammonite who had plotted with others to fight against Jerusalem and stir up trouble, surely must ring alarm bells that there are real issues that need to be addressed!
Tobiah was STILL trying to cause trouble …. ‘And Tobiah sent letters to intimidate me.’ Vs 19b
For Nehemiah, his was a conviction right from the start that this was a work God had called him to, with a deep trust that a successful outcome would only come from the hand of God as the initiator.
‘Come let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, and we well no longer be in disgrace. I also told them about the gracious hand of my God upon me and what the king had said to me … Chapter 2:17b-18 and then after being ridiculed and mocked, Nehemiah answered them; ‘The God of heaven will give us success.’ Chapter 2:20a
And so it came to be …
At this current time, we as a church have recently been challenged about praying big, hairy, audacious prayers. Nehemiah has given us a glimpse into what happens when you prayer these prayers and then hand it all over to God …