February 18, 2003
This chapter relates, how the Jews, while building, were mocked by their enemies, to which no answer was returned but by prayer to God, and they went on notwithstanding in their work, #Ne 4:1-6 and how that their enemies conspired against them, to hinder them by force of arms, #Ne 4:7-12 to oppose which, both spiritual and temporal weapons were made use of, so that the work was still carried on, #Ne 4:13-23. (Gill)
Vv. 1-3, the enemies of God's work were wroth that it was being carried on, and used words to discourage the workers. Sanballat spoke first. He can be considered a type of the world as it does all it can to mock those involved in the Lord's work.
Tobiah, a type of the flesh, got in his words of discouragement: A fox will break down the wall. The flesh will fight the Lord's work every step of the way "What's the use?"
Ridicule and mockery is probably the #1 tool of the enemy used against those who desire to serve the Lord.
V. 2, will they revive the stones out of the heaps of the rubbish that was burned? Limestone is softened by fire, so it all had to be removed, and new stones used. Jerusalem is built upon many layers of rubbish. All they probably did was level the rubble from the destruction, and build on top of the rubble.
Vv. 4-6, Nehemiah prayed against the enemies of God's work, and continued the work: for the people had a mind to work. The Lord is the one who moved the people to work.
V. 5, speaking against God's people who are doing God's work is speaking against God Himself.
Vv. 7, 8, Sanballat and Tobiah, the world and the flesh, conspire together to hinder the Lord's work, deciding to use physical force to stop the work. The enemy does not want us to work for God, and will do all he can to stop us, or at least hinder us.
When #1, ridicule and mockery (v. 2) do not work, the enemy will use #2, force to stop the work.
V, 9, the answer is to watch and pray. (Eph. 6:13ff.) Prayer was made to the Lord, yet they did not depend upon prayer alone, but they also set a watch in case they had to take physical action.
Responsibility to take appropriate action must go with the prayer of faith.
V. 10, #3, discouragement. #1, ridicule and mockery, #2, and now #3, discouragement. Up till now, the battle had been from without. Now the battle moved to within.
Discouraged over the rubbish on the outside. They would be so concerned with the problems that th enemy can cause the work to stopto busy looking at problems.
the amount of rubbish was overwhelming. The rubbish was what was left from the destruction 70 years previous. Judah was discouraged at the amount of work involved in removing it all before they could rebuild.
Note the amount of rubbish that must be removed before the church can be rebuilt. It can be quite discouraging, especially with the enemies doing all they can to discourage the "rebuilders".
The harder it gets, the harder we should pray and fight.
V. 11, the enemies threatened to come suddenly among them by surprise, and kill them in order to stop the work. I must say that most of the enemies discouragement comes from within, and by surprise.
Vv. 12-14, Nehemiah took proper precaution, and then turned the battle over to the Lord.
V. 12, #1, ridicule and mockery, #2, #3, discouragement, and now #4, fear. Fear and faith cannot live in the same heart:
2 Timothy 1:7 For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind
Answer to fear, prepare, pray and work.
And I looked, and rose up, and said unto the nobles, and to the rulers, and to the rest of the people, Be not ye afraid of them: remember the Lord, which is great and terrible, and fight for your brethren, your sons, and your daughters, your wives, and your houses.
We must not forget the purpose of the praying, working and warring it is for our families, friends, property and for others. So much more than just our own welfare depends upon our willingness to pray, work and fight.
Vv. 15-18, the people are prepared for war, working with their arms on; in fact, one hand on their weapon and the other hand on the task at hand. The work, though slowed by the threat of war, continued.
It was God who brought the enemies' counsel to nought. If we look any place other than to God to provide victory over His enemies, we are looking in the wrong place.
Preparation included being armed for self-defense, keeping the sword at hand at all times.
Luke 11:21 When a strong man armed keepeth his palace, his goods are in peace:
Sword, or the Word of God, must be our constant companion if we expect to keep the enemy at bay.
Vv. 19-21, the workers, which was also the army, were scattered over the work site. So arrangements were made to communicate
Our God shall fight for us. The result of "us" being prepared is that God will move in our behalf.
V. 20, our God shall fight for us.
2 Chronicles 20:15 And he said, Hearken ye, all Judah, and ye inhabitants of Jerusalem, and thou king Jehoshaphat, Thus saith the LORD unto you, Be not afraid nor dismayed by reason of this great multitude; for the battle is not yours, but God's.
Vv. 22, 23, they continued to work hard, and did not let their guard down day nor night. In fact, they even left their clothes on, except for washing.
However, many Christians are "quick change artists" that is, able to change clothes quickly to fit into whatever crowd they want to run with.
V. 23, us, in other words, Nehemiah did not require anything of the people who were working that he was not doing himself. He worked also, just as hard, if not harder, as those under him.
First, Nehemiah 3:31, The work of God is the job of all of God's people.
Second, 4:7, the devil's crowd does not want us to work or the Lord.
Third, 4:9, put the problem before the Lord.
Fourth, 4:17, though it was put before the Lord and dependance was place in His hands, it did not stop there. We must still fight and do our part. God will not do it all, but He wants us to depend upon Him as we do our part. ½ of the work of God is prayer, and the other half is going and doing. The weapon still must be at our side.
Fifth, v. 23, in God' work, even though we do vv. 1-21, we are not in the battle (work) all the time, the enemy will catch up with us either in our own lives or in our children. Only take it easy, rest, long enough to "renew" strength and spirit. (Isa. 40:31.) If to long is taken for "rest", we will fall completely out of the work. I have seen it over and over.